Legal Question

This one has been bugging me for a little while and i haven’t been able to really get an answer.

Naturally, children 15 years old or so are attracted to peers their age. Well, what would happen if a 15 year old child was caught with child porn on their computer of other 15 year olds?


As far as I know, the law is the law, and if the 15-year-old posessed illegal photos of other 15-year-olds, then he’s in posession of child pornography.

A situation similar to the one you describe happened here in my hometown of Springfield, IL, a few years ago. A freshman student at the University of Illinois at Springfield was using a campus computer to collect pornographic pictures of young women. Being 18, he was attracted to women around that age. The IT department got wind of the fact that there were pornographic pictures on a campus computer, which were downloaded or saved or whatever, when he was logged onto it. Ergo, he posessed the pictures. I suppose he would have gotten off with some sort of campus disciplinary action were it not for the fact that some of the models in those pictures were a few months shy (in one case, 24 months shy) of their 18th birthdays.

He was charged with posession of child pornography. I don’t know the resolution of the case, but I imagine that since it was his first offense and since there weren’t any, you know, children involved, he probably plea-bargained to a misdemeanor and got off with a fine.

Now, someone is going to demand a cite, and I’m sorry to report I don’t have one. This is all based on recollections from local news reports from about five years ago.

Thanks for the answer, for informative!

Unlike “statutory rape” laws that vary depending on the age of both the victim and suspect, child porn is child porn no matter who possesses it.

In some circumstances such a case might not be prosecuted, but I think that would be extremely rare. Child porn is considered far too serious a crime to warrant any type of leniency.

I don’t really understand that. I’m not promoting child porn or anything, but wouldn’t rape be considered far more serious than child porn? With rape you are physically hurting the victim.

Some states have what’s called “Romeo and Juliet” laws. This protects teenagers from being prosecuted for having sex with each other.

For example, if I, a 35-year-old man, have consensual sex with a 16-year-old girl, then that’s considered “Statutory Rape,” and I’d be facing a long prison sentence. If a 16-year-old boy has sex with a 16-year-old girl, then he’s just doing what teenagers do, so there’s no crime. I’m undoubtedly leaving out some legal nuance here, but you get the drift.

Also, I think you may be confusing “Statutory Rape” and “Rape.” Statutory Rape is “consensual” sex with someone who is legally too young to give consent. In other words, someone under 18, whereas “Rape” is just that: forced intercourse, regardless of the victim’s age.

Ah yes, my mistake. Sorry about that.

Ah yes, my mistake. Sorry about that.

This brings me to another question. Ok, a person 16 and 17 are dating for a long time, having sex on several occasion. Then the 17 year old turns 18 making it illegel for them to have sex with the 16 year old. But they had been dating for a long while. How would this be viewed in the court?

I had heard that if two 16 year olds engage in sexual activity, and take photographs and each keep some, they can both be charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.

It’s up to the DA. Most likely, they wouldn’t bother to prosecute, but it all depends on how strictly they want to interpret the law. A few years 18 or 19, they’ll most likely just let it drop, but the bigger the age gap, the more likely it will go to trial.

I guess I always thought of child pornography as being graphic depictions of a sexual act between a child and an adult – inherently illegal anyway.

Does “child pornography” include pictures of a child naked, all by themselves? Obviously, the “baby on a bear rug” type pictures, no one would try to say were pornographic, but given the controversy over the photos Robert Mapplethorpe took of naked children a number of years ago…does anyone know where exactly is the line drawn?

I’m curious on that too, because i have read that “Children can be depicted nude as long as it is for the purpose of art” I think that’s one of those things that we could ask 20 different people where to draw the line and we would get 20 different answers.

Child pornography can include a child by themself. From what I have read, the determination between kiddie porn and pictures of your kids taking a bath is the intent to show them in a sexual nature. This can be subtle and there is controversy over what does and doesn’t cross the line.

Oh, and as to the 18 year old having sex with the 17 year old, some statutory rape laws require that there be an adult having sex with minor and that they be some certain number of years different in age. Depends upon the jurisdiction.

Yes and no. While I have no cite handy (and I’m NOT going to google “child pornography trials” to find one), I have read cases where people were at the very least investigated and their children at least temporarily placed in protective custody for naked pictures of the “bearkskin rug” or “bathtub” type.

And there is no well articulated “line”. Thanks to “I know it when I see it” attitudes from judges and “reasonable person” language in laws, overzealous photo shop employees are often required by their stores to report ANY child or infant nudity in their customer’s pictures. While one would hope that the local law enforcement had good judgement about such things, one would unfortunately occasionally be disappointed.

While I’m not a child pornographer, I’m sure thankful for digital cameras. I shudder to think that my cute little baby girl’s bare butt in my photo album could get her taken away.

So I’m technically guilty of producing child pornography since I took nude photos (including an erection shot) of myself when I was only 16? :smack:


Haha, oh man, better be careful before ‘the man’ finds those.

I think taking babies away from their parents just because their parents took a shot of them naked in the tub is a bit ridiculous.

When my son was a teen he worked at an amusement park. He told me that when cameras were found it was pretty common for someone to take the camera into the locker room to take some incriminating photos before turning it in to the lost and found. You have to wonder what people thought when the got their film developed.

He may have exaggerated the frequency though, he always figured it was a pretty poor story that could only be told the way it actually happened.

In some jurisdictions it is illegal for underage people to have sex with each other. For example (and correct me if I’m wrong) in the entire state of California. Legally they are ‘raping’ each other, and if the age difference is more than 3 years it would be a felony for the older one and he/she could be tried as an adult. Theoretically.