Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney Call us today for a free consultation
Home Attorney Profile Case Results Criminal Defense Contact Us
Learn why it's important to hire an attorney who isn't afraid to take your case to trial Learn how important it is to hire the right attorney Learn what to do following an arrest
Information Center
DUI Center
Sexual Assault
Video CenterLegal Blog

Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer

Q&A: Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child

What is child sexual exploitation?
Child exploitation includes possessing, making or distributing child pornography or enticing a child into a sexual act, child molestation, child prostitution or sex tourism.

What is child pornography?
Child pornography is defined as any depiction – including photograph, film, video, picture or computer-generated imagery – which depicts a minor engaged in sexual conduct. Note that child nudity does not necessarily fulfill the definition of child pornography.

Why is investigative focus often online?
The FBI reports a 2,000 percent increase in the number of investigations over the last decade that have involved online pornographic images depicting children. It's estimated that 1 in 7 youth, ages 10 to 17 years old, receive a sexual solicitation over the Internet.

What law governs the issue in Pennsylvania?
Child pornography and Internet sexual exploitation are often charged under sexual abuse of children (18 Pa. C.S. § 6312). The law makes it a second-degree felony to photograph, videotape or knowingly permit a child to engage in sex acts or simulated sex acts. The law makes it a third-degree felony to distribute, transfer or disseminate such material.

Is mistaken age a defense?
No. Generally it is not a defense for the defendant to be mistaken about the age of a victim as it relates to child pornography.

Is accidental viewing a defense?
Yes. The law requires "intentional views." Accidental or inadvertent viewing is not punishable under the law. Nor is viewing for educational, scientific, governmental or judicial purposes.

What other criminal charges could apply in Pennsylvania?

  1. Sexual offenses under 18 Pa. C.S. § 3101
  2. Open lewdness under 18 Pa. C.S. § 5901
  3. Prostitution under 18 Pa. C.S. § 5902
  4. Unlawful contact with a minor under 18 Pa. C.S. § 6318
  5. Obscene material or sexual performances under 18 Pa. C.S. § 5903
  6. Sexual abuse of children under 18 Pa. C.S. § 6312
  7. Sexual exploitation of children under 18 Pa. C.S. § 6320

What about government sting operations?
Many so-called sting operations are actually referrals to local law enforcement from third-party organizations, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. These organizations have an agenda and are likely to err on the side of assuming a defendant is guilty. Operations in which an undercover officer poses as a teenager may also lead to entrapment. For many, the Internet is a fantasy world, and they may say and do things they would never say or do in real life. This, too, can lead to unfair charges. The real damage to a defendant comes when, ashamed and embarrassed, he begins talking to law enforcement after being confronted. Please do yourself a favor, remain silent until you can speak to a defense attorney.

Will a conviction mean registration as a sex offender?
Yes. If you are convicted of a sexual offense, you will be required to register as a sex offender. In many cases, lifetime registration is required. Additionally, if you are labeled a sexual predator by the court, the law's community notification clause will apply and neighbors and other interested parties will be notified about your status whenever you move or change jobs.

What should I do?
There is hope. These cases can be beat. And a reduction or dismissal is often possible. It's critical that you consult an experienced Internet sex crimes lawyer in Pittsburgh at the earliest possible stage of such cases. Please don't make any statements to law enforcement until you have had the opportunity to obtain professional legal help.

Blaine Jones Law, LLC - Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney
Located at 600 Grant St #660 Pittsburgh, PA 15219. View Map
Phone: (412) 475-0062
Website: