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Do you go to jail for child pornography in South Carolina?

Do you go to jail for child pornography in South Carolina?

I’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of men arrested for possession of child pornography. This is due to the number of people with Internet access (especially 24/7 access on mobile phones), and the number of police officers investigating Internet content.

The number one question people have after being arrested is whether they are going to end up in jail. The good news is that it’s possible to avoid jail or prison sentences, even if you’re caught with or have confessed to possessing child pornography.

Most child pornography cases we’re seeing now are brought by South Carolina prosecutors applying South Carolina criminal statutes. The prosecutors for these cases work for the Attorney General’s office. The cases are still heard in the local county courthouse.

South Carolina’s criminal charge for child pornography is called Criminal Exploitation of a Minor. There are three levels. If it’s just possession it’s 3rd degree, distribution (including uploading to Internet sites or emailing), is 2nd degree, and involvement in the creation (such as asking a minor to take a picture), is 1st degree.

All three levels carry a possible jail sentence. However, there is no jail or prison time required for a 3rd degree. In many situations, the prosecutor’s office may agree to dismiss or reduce 2nd or 1st-degree charges.  This means that the court would not be required to impose a jail or prison sentence.

In deciding whether to seek jail or prison time, the prosecutors and court may consider several factors. These include, but aren’t necessarily limited to:

  • The defendant’s prior record
  • Whether or not the defendant participates in counseling or other treatment
  • Results of a forensic psychological evaluation
  • The defendant’s employment history
  • The defendant’s family status
  • The number and types of images or videos involved
  • Potential legal defenses \ strengths of the government’s case

Prosecutions in South Carolina state court are somewhat different than cases brought in Federal Court. Although most all child pornography cases could be brought in either court, we’re seeing the majority of cases now brought in state court. One of the main differences is that in federal court the court takes into account federal sentencing guidelines. This is not true for cases in state court.

Even though not everyone arrested for child pornography will be going to jail, every case presents a risk of a sentence. It’s important that everyone charged take all necessary steps to protect their interests. No one should panic or think that their situation is hopeless.

We’re able to assist clients facing child pornography charges in any South Carolina court, state or federal. The first step is to reach out to our office for a free consultation. During that consultation, you’ll have a chance to meet directly with the attorney who would be handling your case, and ask any questions you may have. Mr. Snell is known for giving people an open floor to ask questions and he’ll “tell you anything he knows about anything.” Consultations are completely confidential and private.  


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