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Posted by Christopher Combs on February 23, 2024

Child pornography defense lawyer in St. Louis, MO. Facing allegations of or charges for the possession or distribution of child pornography threatens to destroy both your reputation and your future. If you’ve been accused of having or distributing child pornography in the St. Louis, MO area, you could be looking at a felony charge and mandatory Missouri sex offender registration if convicted. Don’t leave that to chance.

Reach out to the criminal defense attorneys at Combs Waterkotte as soon as possible by calling (314) 900-HELP or contacting us online to schedule a complimentary, no-strings-attached case review. Our skilled child pornography defense lawyer is ready to meet with you personally, analyze the details of your case, and offer insights on the appropriate course of action.

What Can Lead to Child Pornography Charges in St. Louis, MO?

While there might be prevalent stereotypes, child pornography charges come up in all walks of life in and around St. Louis, MO. Missouri Revised Statute § 573.010 defines child pornography as any obscene material or performance depicting sexual conduct, contact, or sexual performance, including a minor under 18 years old as a participant or portrayed observer of the material.

As per RSMo § 573.037, a person is charged with the offense of child pornography if they knowingly or recklessly possess any child pornography of a minor below 18 years of age or obscene material portraying what appears to be a minor below 18 years of age.

A few examples of specific child pornography charges in St. Louis and across the state of Missouri are:

  • Possessing Child Pornography: Having child pornography in your possession, regardless of the quantity or form – digital, physical, etc.
  • Promoting Child Pornography: Distributing or selling child pornography to an adult, or promoting adult pornography to a minor.
  • Sexual Exploitation of a Minor: Filming, photographing, or taking part in any aspect of the creation process of child pornography.

If you are facing charges or have been questioned regarding any of these examples – or any other child pornography charges in the St. Louis, MO area – call Combs Waterkotte right away at (314) 900-HELP or reach out to us online. Having an experienced advocate by your side is crucial to safeguarding your reputation, your rights, and your future.

Child Pornography Defense Lawyer in St. Louis, MO | St. Louis, MO Criminal Defense | Combs Waterkotte

What Are the Legal Ramifications for Child Pornography in St. Louis, MO?

From a statutory perspective, as outlined in RSMo § 573.037, the offense of child pornography is considered a class D felony when possessing just one still image of child pornography or one still image considered obscene. The severity of the offense escalates to a class B felony in St. Louis, MO if any of the following conditions apply:

  • Possess over 20 still images of child pornography
  • Possess more than 20 obscene still images
  • Possess child pornography in the form of one motion picture, film, videotape, videotape production, or other moving image
  • Possess obscene material in the form of one motion picture, film, videotape, videotape production, or other moving image
  • Have previously been found guilty of an offense under this section

Penalties for Promotion of Child Pornography in and Around St. Louis, MO

The promotion of child pornography to an adult is a class C felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison and fines. Moreover:

  • If you knowingly promote child porn to a minor, or promote obscene material of a child under 14 years of age, you could be facing a class B felony, leading to imprisonment for a duration of 5-15 years.
  • Individuals with a prior child pornography conviction, engaging in widespread promotion of child pornography or promoting it to a minor, may face a class D felony, punishable by 4 years in prison and fines.

Legal Ramifications for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in the St. Louis, MO Area

If you are facing sexploitation charges, you are facing a class B felony. However, if the child involved was under the age of 14 the charges increase to a class A felony, which carries a minimum prison sentence of 10 years with a maximum of life in prison.

Who Has to Register as a Sex Offender in St. Louis, MO and Throughout Missouri?

Under RSMo § 589.400, any individual charged with the following crimes is required to register with the Missouri Sex Offender Registry within three days of their conviction or release from jail, prision, or probation:

  • Possessing and/or promoting child pornography
  • Using children in sexual performances
  • Promoting sexual performance by children
  • Sexually exploiting a minor
  • Public display of sexually explicit material
  • Promoting pornography for minors
  • Promoting obscenity
  • Coercing others to accept obscene materials
  • Promoting prostitution
  • Sexual contact with nursing home residents

Missouri classifies offenders into different tiers for sex offender registration requirements. Those include:

  • Tier I Offenders: These individuals have a 15-year registration requirement and must report to the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) in person once a year. These offenses do not include child pornography, and are more for misdemeanor sexual offenses or minor statutory offenses.
  • Tier II Offenders: These have a 25-year registration requirement and must report to the CLEO in person semiannually. These offenses include possession of child pornography, indecent exposure, and other nonviolent sexual crimes against minors.
  • Tier II Offenders: These have a lifetime registration requirement and must report to the CLEO in person every 90 days. Offenses in this category usually involve violent acts such as rape, child molestation, sexual assault, as well as repeat offenses.

Penalties for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender in St. Louis and Throughout Missouri

Failure to register as a sex offender is a class E felony unless the individual is required to register after being charged with an offense in chapter 566 which was an unclassified felony, a class A or B felony, or a felony involving a child under the age of 14, in which case it becomes a class D felony.

Combs Waterkotte is a leading criminal defense law firm based in St. Louis. Along with expert legal representation from our skilled St. Louis, MO child pornography attorneys, we provide assistance in the following areas for clients in St. Louis, MO:

Child Pornography Defense Lawyer St. Louis, MO | Criminal Defense Law Firm in St. Louis, MO | Combs Waterkotte

What Are Common Defenses Against Child Pornography Charges in St. Louis, MO?

The Combs Waterkotte skilled St. Louis, MO child pornography defense team boasts a collective experience of over 60 years, dedicated to defending clients in St. Louis, MO in cases similar to yours. While every case is different with unique circumstances, some defense strategies our attorneys have used include:

An Unintentional Possession Defense

The basis of this defense, also commonly referred to as “unintended possession,” is that you didn’t mean to have child porn in your possession, or that the material didn’t belong to you. You also may not have even been aware of the existence of child porn. This may be used if child porn was discovered on a computer or hard drive that is shared, or to which individuals other than you may have had access without your knowledge. You also could have used an unsecured or shared network which enabled another individual to download child porn. An angry co-worker, employee, friend, ex-spouse, or other revengeful individual may be motivated to download child porn on your computer or hard drive in order to frame you in St. Louis, MO.

Your knowledgeable Combs Waterkotte defense attorney can establish the most important factor – that you didn’t possess child pornography to your knowledge. Call us today at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online.

Accidental Possession Defense

The internet can be a treacherous environment. Your computer is continuously subjected to viruses, spyware, malware, spam, or various other inputs without your knowledge or consent. These intrusions could easily include child pornography or other obscene materials. You, like many other individuals in St. Louis and throughout Missouri, have numerous files on your computer you didn’t even know existed.

“Not Child Porn” Defense

This defense challenges the prosecution’s burden to prove that the subject of the material in question was under 18 years of age. Also, if the material in question serves a scientific, religious, or educational purpose it should not be considered child pornography.

Illegal Search and Seizure

Law enforcement often makes procedural errors, violating an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights under the Constitution. The Combs Waterkotte defense team is vigilant in safeguarding your rights, future, and best interests. Law enforcement can occasionally push the limits on getting a warrant or may search beyond the scope of said warrant. If evidence against you was seized illegally, your child pornography defense lawyer will argue it is inadmissible.

Entrapment

Entrapment can occur in a variety of situations throughout Missouri. This defense asserts that you would not have committed the offense if law enforcement hadn’t contacted you and persuaded you to do so. Officers could also try to induce individuals to purchase content that wasn’t clearly labeled or believed to be child porn, only to arrest them for buying child porn. Entrapment occurs more frequently than we might realize, especially in instances where law enforcement conducts child porn sting operations, rounding up a multitude of individuals, not all of whom are guilty.

Psychological Addiction/Mitigating Circumstances

While it isn’t necessarily a winning defense, claiming a psychological addiction to child pornography can serve as a strategy to minimize your sentence or, in some cases, avoid imprisonment through participation in a treatment program and probation. Your Combs Waterkotte St. Louis, MO defense attorney may present a variety of mitigating factors, like mental health issues, a history of abuse or neglect, extreme stress or anxiety, family conflict, lack of guidance as a child, and others.

Child Pornography Defense Lawyer St. Louis, MO | St. Louis, MO Criminal Defense Attorneys | Combs Waterkotte

Don’t Hesitate – Contact a St. Louis, MO Child Pornography Defense Lawyer Now at Combs Waterkotte

Child pornography charges are serious and can have lasting, if not permanent, implications on your reputation and future in St. Louis, MO. But, as serious as they are, there are defenses available from the skilled and tenacious Combs Waterkotte legal team. Don’t try to navigate the uncertainties and complexities of the St. Louis or Missouri legal system alone.

We know that good people often find themselves in unfortunate circumstances in St. Louis and throughout Missouri. We are here to help. Call our expert St. Louis, MO child pornography defense lawyers right away at (314) 900-HELP or fill out our online contact form to arrange a free, confidential consultation.

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