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Child Pornography Laws in New Jersey

I have been charged with having possession of pornographic images on my computer, what do I do?


A conviction for possessing pornographic images of children in New Jersey are some of the harshest in the country.  A conviction can result in jail, fines, a criminal record, and sex offender registration.  Over the past dozen years, law enforcement agencies have made cases like these a priority.  Arrests and convictions are publicized by prosecutors in the media.  

In New Jersey, it is illegal to possess, distribute, receive, view, share a photograph or video of child pornography.  Child pornography is not protected speech as covered by the First Amendment.  A "Child" is defined as a person under the age of 18.  The legislature has determined that child pornography is a form of child sexual exploitation. 

“Prohibited sex acts” include sexual intercourse, anal intercourse, masturbation, bestiality, sadism, masochism, fellatio, cunnilingus, or nudity, if depicted for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification of any person viewing it.

Under New Jersey law, it is illegal to use any file sharing using peer-to-peer networks for distribution.  

What happens if I get convicted of a child pornography case? 

The degree of the offense is extremely important. In New Jersey, indictable offenses can be 1st degree, 2nd degree, 3rd degree, or 4th degree.  A conviction under a 1st-degree offense carries a state prison sentence between 10 to 20 years;   a 2nd-degree offense carries a state prison of 5 to 10 years; a 3rd-degree offense carries a state prison sentence of 3 to 5 years, and a 4th-degree offense carries a state prison sentence of up to 18 months.

Most convictions under child pornography cases will lead to registration on the New Jersy Sex Offender List, as well as jail, and a monetary fine.

Harsh Penalties

The laws in New Jersey are very harsh for both Possession and Distribution of Child Pornography. Under New Jersey law, it is illegal to possess, view, distribute, share, receive, photograph, or allow a child to engage in child pornography.

If charged with a first-degree offense, the possible penalties are up to 20 years in State Prison, a fine of up to $200,000, and a life status on the Megan's Law sex offender register, as well as and Parole Supervision for Life.

Child Pornography laws are detailed in N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4

  • Possession of Child Pornography is a Third Degree Offense

  • Distribution of Child Pornography is a Second Degree Offense

  • Manufacturing Child Pornography is a First Degree Offense


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