Can I get in trouble for viewing child porn?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Indianapolis, IN

I was on an adult website last night and was watching porn. I was clicking through videos and I came across one that had a girl who did not look 18. She obviously wasn't a "kid," but in my opinion appeared to be under 18. I reported this to the website immediately. I also reported this to the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection. When searching for "report child porn," I came across a number of articles that talked about people being prosecuted for simply viewing this material. This has really concerned me. I didn't mean to view it. I am not even sure if it was underage, but I exited and tried to do the right thing by reporting it. But these articles about people going to prison over this kind of mistake have really freaked me out. Did I commit a crime?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Jerome L. Ezell

    Contributor Level 13

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . You may be interested in the following which was posted at the below Human Resources website.

    http://www.hreonline.com/HRE/story.jsp?storyId=...

    Question:During a routine company IT audit of our company's computer systems, we discovered that one of our employees had child pornography saved on his computer's hard drive. Our IT department reported this to us in HR as soon as they discovered it. We fired the employee for violating our computer policy but are we, as a company, also required to report the images and the employee to the authorities?We are in New York.


    Answer:Possessing or viewing child pornography is illegal under both New York and federal law. Therefore, if your company's employees use your company's computers and servers to possess child pornography, both the employee and your company could potentially face liability.

    There are three federal laws that govern child pornography: The PROTECT ACT of 2003, The Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998 and 42 U.S.C. § 13031.

    The PROTECT Act of 2003 makes it a federal crime to, among other things, possess or view child pornography, including internet pornography. See U.S.C.A. §§ 2252A, 2256(8)(B). The PROTECT Act provides a defendant who possessed less than three images of child pornography with an affirmative defense if they either (i) took reasonable steps to destroy each image; or (ii) reported the matter to a law enforcement agency and afforded that agency access to each image. U.S.C.A. § 2252A(d). As the computer used by the employee is company property, your company could be held criminally liable if it knowingly allows employees possess or view child pornography on their computers, storage devices and servers. The Company may also face liability if it chooses to destroy or instructs the employee to destroy the pornographic images if there are three or more images in their possession.

  2. Robert David Richman

    Contributor Level 16

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Typically people are charged with "possessing" it, not simply viewing it. As long as you didn't take steps to download it onto your computer, and didn't transmit it to anyone else, you have nothing to worry about.

    This answer is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended as the practice of law in any... more
  3. Barry Franklin Poulson

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . I do not see you as having committed a crime, but there is risk. You do not want to be the suspect unable to raise $500,000 bond while you wait to have your technical expert explain at great expense the subtle difference between downloading and viewing. If there is any. You act in an area society generally disapproves of near the border of an area society utterly condemns. I once won a life sentence case (had to try it twice - hung jury) while I carefully explained to the jury of very polite elderly church ladies how, why my client was a pervert, not a child molester. Not guilty - but he aged a lot over that year. So consider the risk of risky behaviors. And, the cost. While my client was appointed to me, do you have the $30,000 to pay the attorney, plust $5000 for the expert witness? Did the sites leave a virus on your computer, one which would permit them to emplace kiddy porn on the hard drive? You could take it to a Tech. But, what if there were 4 images on the drive? How would you explain your arrest to the guys in the holding cell? So, think about risk.

    We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I... more

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