Like most states, North Carolina has made it illegal to make, distribute, or possess child pornography. North Carolina classifies these actions as sexual exploitation of a child and it is a felony that also carries with it the requirement of registering as a sex offender. These kinds of charges are very serious and can be life-altering. Therefore, it is vitally important that you hire an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to assist you. If you have been charged with any level of sexual exploitation of a minor then reach out to the team at Jetton and Meredith today.
There are three levels of sexual exploitation crimes in North Carolina; first, second, and third degree. The first degree is the most serious and carries the most severe punishment, while the third degree is the least serious and carries the least severe punishment.
First Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Child N.C.G.S. 14-190.16
This is the most serious offense when regarding child pornography. This charge involves the production of child pornography. You can be charged with First Degree of Sexual Exploitation of a Child if you do any of the following:
- Uses employ, coerces, or facilitates a minor to engage in sexual activity for a live performance or for the purpose of producing pornographic material.
- Permits a minor under their custody or control to engage in sexual activity for a live performance or for the purpose of producing pornographic material.
- Transports or finances the transportation of a minor through or across the State of North Carolina with the intent that the minor is going to engage in sexual activity for a live performance or for the purpose of producing pornographic material.
- Records, photographs, films, develops or duplicates for sale or pecuniary gain material that contains a visual representation depicting a minor engaged in sexual activity.
One important prong of this statute is the inference prong. This allows the trier of fact, or the jury, to infer that the person engaged in a sexual activity is a minor, it does not require absolute proof that the person involved is a minor.
If you are convicted of this crime, you will be sentenced as a class C felony. This level requires that you must serve an active sentence in prison, regardless of your prior record. It also requires that you register as a sex offender for a period of no more than 30 years.
Second Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Child N.C.G.S. 14-190.17
This is the next most serious offense regarding Child Pornography in North Carolina. Punishable as a class E felony, you can get an active sentence for this charge regardless of your prior record, and similar to first-degree sexual exploitation, it also requires registration as a sex offender. You can be found guilty of this charge if you either:
- Record, photograph, film, develop, or duplicate materials that contains a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity.
- Distribute, transport, exhibit, receive, sell, purchase, exchange, or solicits material that contains a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity.
Similar to first-degree sexual exploitation, the statute for second-degree sexual exploitation contains the inference prong, allowing the jury to infer the person contained in the imagery is a minor without absolute proof of them being a minor.
Third Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Child N.C.G.S. 14-190.17A
The final level of sexual exploitation of a child in North Carolina is third-degree. Third-degree sexual exploitation is punished as a class H felony, where again, regardless of your prior record, the judge may sentence you to an active sentence in prison. Furthermore, you will have to register as a sex offender.
Third-degree sexual exploitation is the crime of possession. This law makes it illegal to possess material depicting a minor in sexual activity if you know the character or content of such material. This means that it is illegal for you to download, hold, or otherwise possess anything that you know shows child pornography. This law also allows the jury to infer the age of the person depicted in the sexual activity without absolute proof.
Mistake of Age
Important notice in all three of these statutes is that making a mistake in the age of the person depicted or engaging in sexual activity is NOT a defense. This means that when you are defending against these kinds of allegations it is not a defense or excuse that you thought the person in the video or image was not a minor.
Sexual Exploitation charges are extremely serious charges, they not only carry the possibility or requirement of an active sentence in prison, but they all require registration on the sex offender registry for a period of no more than 30 years. This can greatly affect your living situation, your employment situation, and your ability to attend certain events involving your children or the children of family members. It is very important that you hire a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to help guide you through these cases and to defend you and your future. If you have been charged with any level of sexual exploitation, call the criminal defense team at Jetton and Meredith today!