You might think that you can look at whatever you want when you are on the internet. While there are many things that you can legally view while you are online, some are actually illegal despite their presence. This is the case for child pornography. It is fully illegal to view, possess or take lewd pictures of people who are under 18 years old. These activities are covered under federal and state laws.
Some people have argued that it is a First Amendment right to possess these types of images. The United States Supreme Court ruled that sexually explicit pictures of minors aren’t protected by freedom of speech rights. Besides the precedent set in 1982 by that court, there have been many other rulings that uphold and expand upon what is legal and illegal under the child porn umbrella.
One interesting note is that there aren’t many precedents set for minor-to-minor sexually explicit pictures. This means that if a teen sends a nude selfie to their boyfriend or girlfriend, both parties could end up being prosecuted. In all cases, prosecution is likely if one of the parties has already turned 18 and the other is still a minor. As time progresses, precedents for various actions using technology will start to be set.
Even when the person never had actual physical contact with a minor, they can face having to register on the sex offender registry if they are convicted of a child pornography charge. For this reason, as well as the possibility of incarceration, anyone facing these charges should start working on their defense immediately.