New Jersey College Defense: Pornography

Campus Pornography Use

Many of us know that our teens may have sex while they're off at college. We may think about how we can protect our kids from the emotional and physical repercussions of having sex, and we may even try to arm them with that knowledge before they head off to college at Princeton, Rutgers, or Montclair. In New Jersey, while a “child” is anyone under the age of 18, the age of consent in our state is 16. As a result, even if we send a 17-year-old off to college, they may be legally able to have sex with someone 18 or over. However, a college student under 18 is still a minor when it comes to many laws in New Jersey, including laws related to pornography.

More than 40% of college students reported that they viewed porn at least one to two times a week. But college kids need to understand that their college campuses may scrutinize their actions online and on-campus more closely than they expect. If they face pornography-related criminal charges, they could also face student disciplinary actions at their college or university. Unfortunately, student discipline actions can have serious consequences, including suspension and expulsion. To protect your student's rights in court and college, you need the premier New Jersey student discipline and criminal defense attorney, Joseph D. Lento. Attorney Lento and the skilled team at the Lento Law Firm can help protect your child's reputation and rights in both the criminal justice system and their school's student disciplinary system.

Crime Detection on New Jersey Campuses

Your child's campus activity is probably more closely monitored than you realize, both online and on campus. Today, most pornography-related charges originate from online activity. So, your child's university monitors activity online to:

  • Ensure the safety of the students,
  • Identify campus-wide threats,
  • Manage threats,
  • Limit liability for student and employee online misconduct,
  • Ensure compliance with federal and state laws, and
  • Prevent campus internet users from accessing or downloading illegal or copyrighted materials.

If your child uses a school-wide network in a classroom, dorm, library, or home while working remotely, they'll undoubtedly face more scrutiny of online activity. If your child uses a school-issued computer, iPad, cell phone, or network device, they'll probably face additional scrutiny and automatic monitoring. If your child is facing pornography-related criminal charges, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who is well-versed in defending students in school disciplinary actions, too, like Joseph D. Lento.

New Jersey Pornography Crimes

We've established that you may be under closer scrutiny for crime on a New Jersey college campus, but is viewing pornography a crime? In New Jersey, it can be under certain circumstances. Some of the most common pornography-related charges in New Jersey include:

  1. Viewing Pornography in Public In New Jersey, it's illegal to view porn in public if it can be readily seen or heard by others on a public street, thoroughfare, recreation or shopping area, or public transportation. N.J.S.A. § 2C:34-4 (1979). This crime is known as “public communication of obscenity,” and is a fourth-degree criminal offense in New Jersey. If convicted, you could face up to 18 months in state prison and fines of up to $10,000.
  2. Child Pornography The statute covering child pornography in New Jersey calls it “endangering the welfare of children,” and all of the crimes covered under this statute are indictable offenses. N.J.S.A. § 2C:24-4, et seq. (2018). In New Jersey, an “indictable offense” is the equivalent of a felony charge in most other states. The statute prohibits photos, recordings, or images depicting a child in a sexually suggestive manner, engaging in a prohibited sexual act, or simulating a sexual act. It is illegal to possess, distribute, watch, record, share, receive, photograph, video, produce, or allow a child to engage in child pornography. Child porn charges are typically second to third-degree indictable offenses with penalties ranging from three to ten years in prison and fines up to $150,000. While it may seem obvious that porn involving children is illegal, it's important to understand that a “child” in New Jersey is anyone under 18. Because many teens are sexually active before the age of 18, they may not realize that New Jersey child pornography statutes can make taking, recording, or sending sexual images to other teens illegal. For example, let's say your 18-year-old daughter heads off to Keane for college and begins dating a 17-year-old. If your 18-year-old daughter takes a nude photograph of herself and sends it to her 17-year-old partner, she may be charged under New Jersey's child pornography law.
  3. Revenge Porn “Revenge porn” refers to posting nude or sexually compromising photos or videos of someone else after a breakup or as revenge for some other action. Under the law in New Jersey, this is known as “invasion of privacy.” N.J.S.A. § 2C:14-9 (2016). Viewing, photographing, or recording someone with their sexual parts exposed or in underwear, engaged in sexual acts, or engaged in sexual penetration, without their knowledge is against the law. You can face a third-degree indictable offense for these actions or for posting, publishing, or revealing these images to anyone. In New Jersey, a third-degree indictable offense is punishable by three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
  4. Internet Solicitation of a Minor Internet solicitation of a minor is becoming a more common offense these days. It happens if someone: [A]ttempts, via electronic or any other means, to lure or entice a child or one who he reasonably believes to be a child into a motor vehicle, structure or isolated area, or to meet or appear at any other place, with a purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the child. N.J.S.A. § 2C:13-6 (2008). Again, remember that a “child” is anyone under 18 under New Jersey law. Internet solicitation of a minor is a second-degree indictable offense, punishable by five to ten years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine.

Pornography Crimes on New Jersey College Campuses

If your child is facing criminal charges in New Jersey, they could also face consequences at the college or university for violating the school's student code of conduct or Title IX rules.

  1. Student Conduct Violations At most colleges and universities, violating state or federal law also violates the school's student code of conduct. For example, at Rutgers, the Student Code of Conduct indicates that students can be held responsible for potentially criminal behavior through the criminal justice system and the university: Students may be held accountable for their behavior through both the criminal system and the University conduct process. University conduct proceedings may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings at the discretion of the Chief Conduct Officer (or their designee), on each campus. Disciplinary action, decisions, and/or sanctions shall not be subject to change because criminal charges were dismissed, reduced, or resolved in favor of the student. University community members are not precluded from filing a civil or criminal charge against a student before, while, or after the University pursues disciplinary action. Montclair State University also warns students that they will face the school's disciplinary process for criminal charges: The purpose of the University's campus conduct process is to determine if a violation of the University Code of Conduct has occurred and to determine what consequences are appropriate. Students have a relationship with the University that is different from their responsibilities as citizens of the larger Montclair and New Jersey communities. Therefore, if a student's behavior violates local or state laws, he or she will also face adjudication in the appropriate court system. The court system will determine whether laws have been breached. Because the campus conduct system is distinct from the courts, students should keep in mind that the University may pursue or enforce disciplinary action even if criminal charges are reduced or dismissed. This is because University hearings are internal processes meant to serve an educational rather than a punitive purpose and because they deal with the University's Code of Conduct.
  2. Title IX Violations Some pornography-related actions on campus can also violate a college or university's Title IX regulations. For example, Keane University's Title IX regulations list several violations a porn-related charge could implicate, including:
  • Sexual Harassment: Unwelcome, gender-based verbal or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, denies or limits someone's ability to participate in or benefit from a Kean University educational program or activity.
  • Sexual Exploitation: Taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of an individual to benefit anyone other than the person being exploited. Examples include: invading privacy, video or audio recording of sexual acts without consent, knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), sexually based stalking or bullying, or exposing one's genitals.

Defending New Jersey Pornography Criminal Charges

But it's also essential that you have a criminal defense attorney representing you who also understands the impact your criminal charges can have on your academic life. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a skilled New Jersey criminal defense attorney and an experienced student disciplinary action attorney-advisor. Attorney Lento has helped many New Jersey students through school disciplinary actions and the criminal justice system.

New Jersey College and University Conduct Policies

New Jersey colleges and universities take violations of state law and student codes of conduct very seriously. For example, Rutgers Internet Technology Policy prohibits students and staff from using the school's network or technology to violate state or federal law. It also prohibits “uploading, downloading, distributing or possessing child pornography.” Violating these policies or state laws can be a fast track to a college or university's school disciplinary process.

At Princeton, the school's Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities set forth the school's disciplinary procedures for violating the student code of conduct, including:

  • Investigation by an associate or assistant dean or a university investigator, as well as a committee to assist,
  • Ensuring the student can obtain documents related to the allegations and investigations,
  • Submitting additional written materials,
  • Notice and convening of hearings,
  • Conducting the hearings, and
  • Rights to appeal.

However, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct allegations at Princeton can also trigger a Title IX investigation, which has its own set of procedures at each university guided by federal law and regulations. Sending porn to another student or employee, posting revenge porn online or on social media, and similar conduct could all be possible violations of Princeton's Title IX policy and the Title IX policies of most New Jersey colleges and universities.

New Jersey Campus Disciplinary Procedures

If you're facing state charges related to pornography, your university can also initiate an investigation and disciplinary action against you, regardless of whether you're found guilty of the state charges. However, your school will proceed against you using its own disciplinary procedures, which don't offer the same protections as state criminal procedures. The standard of proof at many colleges is lower than the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard necessary to find you guilty in a New Jersey criminal court. Moreover, the consequences of disciplinary action at school can seriously impact your life. Your college or university could suspend you or expel you, permanently marking your academic record and making it nearly impossible to continue your education elsewhere.

You need an experienced student discipline attorney-advisor guiding you through your school's disciplinary process. An attorney-advisor can be an invaluable resource and ensure that your school affords you all the rights and protections you're entitled to by law and under school policies. For example, Princeton's disciplinary procedures will allow your attorney-advisor to:

  • Negotiate an agreement for sanctions on your behalf with favorable terms,
  • Help you resolve your complaint through informal mediation with your school,
  • Analyze the complaint against you, respond, and evaluate the school's evidence against you,
  • Ensure your university follows its disciplinary procedures and affords you all the rights you're entitled to,
  • In some cases, attend hearings with you and speak on your behalf when allowed,
  • Ensure that the school shares all the evidence against you as well as any exculpatory evidence and the details of the allegations against you,
  • Assist in hearings as your attorney-advisor, including questioning and cross-examining witnesses and presenting evidence,
  • Invoke your right to appeal if necessary and document all procedural or legal errors encountered during the school's disciplinary proceedings.

You Need an Experienced New Jersey Criminal and Student Discipline Defense Lawyer

If your student is facing criminal pornography-related criminal charges in New Jersey, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney who is experienced in handling and resolving student disciplinary matters. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the experienced Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team have been defending the rights of New Jersey students in courtrooms and universities for years, and they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 to schedule a consultation, or contact them online today.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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