Any conviction for possession of child pornography can result in harsh consequences such as jail, fines, a criminal record and registration on the sex offenders list. Distribution charges are much harsher with significant State prison time.
Under New Jersey State law, it is illegal to possess, view, receive, share, photograph, distribute or allow a child to engage in child pornography because child pornography is not considered protected speech by the U.S. Constitution. New Jersey has some of the strictest pornography laws in the country.
New Jersey law enforcement agencies are recently putting more of a focus on prosecuting the distribution of child pornography. The offense of distribution of child pornography is found under the New Jersey Statute entitled Endangering Welfare of Children under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5).
As the law states: A person commits a crime of the second degree if, by any means, including but not limited to the Internet, he: knowingly distributes an item depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child;
It is a crime to knowingly distribute by any means pornographic material involving a child; to knowingly store or maintain an item depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child using a file-sharing program which is designated as available for searching by or copying to one or more other computers. In prosecuting these cases, the State shall not be required to offer proof that an item depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child had actually been searched, copied, transmitted or viewed by another user of the file-sharing program, or by any other person.
It shall be no defense that the defendant did not intend to distribute the item to another user of the file-sharing program or to any other person.
Moreover, the State is not required to prove that the defendant was aware that the item depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child was available for searching or copying to one or more other computers, and the defendant shall be strictly liable for failing to designate the item as not available for searching or copying by one or more other computers.
In other words, a person can be convicted of distribution if he fails to guarantee that another person cannot access any child pornography on his computer.
The internet has become the main source of distribution of child pornography. File-sharing networks that are used by offenders to distribute child pornography work in the same way as website’s that are used to privately share music or movies. Common file-sharing programs are the following: Limewire, Frostwire, Shareaza, BitTorrent, Ares or BearShare.
Peer-to-peer file sharing is different from traditional file downloading. In these file-sharing programs, you use a software program other than your Web browser to locate computers that have the file you want. Because these are ordinary computers like yours, as opposed to servers, they are called peers. The process works like this: A user seeking a file with a torrent client program is connected to a list of all other users interested in that file, either through a tracker's information or peer-seeking technology within the client. The client then downloads small pieces of the file from multiple other peers simultaneously, combining them locally to recreate the full file. This speeds up downloads compared to downloading from a single user. Meanwhile, each user's client is also actively sharing pieces of the file with the group.
However, those in possession of the illegal images can make them available on computers that they control for others to download. With so many of these videos and photos or child pornography out there, they keep recirculating, resulting in the re-victimization of the children who were sexually assaulted or abused to produce them.
The distribution of child pornography is considered a second-degree crime, which can result in 5 to 10 years of imprisonment and hefty fines up to $150,000.