A Texas father and son were charged with felony child pornography crimes. They now face a total of 70 years in prison.
Earlier this month, police found child pornography on several laptops in the home of the two men, who lived 60 miles northwest of San Antonio. The duo confessed to downloading the child pornography leading to their arrest and indictments.
The son faces more severe penalties, partially due to his criminal history. A registered as a sex offender, he has prior convictions for two counts of indecency with a child. These convictions stem from an incident in 2013 involving a 7-year old girl. He was placed on probation until 2024.
His current charges include three counts of possession of child pornography with the intent to distribute. He faces up to 60 years in prison. He remains in the Kerr County Jail under a $150,000 bail.
If convicted on the present counts, the father will also be placed on the sex offender registry in Texas as was his son.
Texas and Possession of Child Pornography
Each state, as well as the federal government, has different laws regarding possession, promotion, or production of child pornography.
Texas law states that a person can be charged with possession of child pornography if: “the person knowingly or intentionally possesses, or knowingly or intentionally accesses with intent to view, visual material that visually depicts a child younger than 18 years of age at the time the image of the child was made who is engaging in sexual conduct, including a child who engages in sexual conduct as a victim.”
Child pornography charges in Texas start at a third degree felony.
As we mentioned, the son in the case faces charges different from those brought against his father. His possession with intention to promote child pornography makes his charges more severe than those against the father. When investigators find six or more of the same image or visual material, the law allows them to presume that the owner had the intention to promote or distribute the child pornography. This is a second degree felony.
What Happens with a Second (or Third) Conviction
The father faces 10 years in prison. His son faces 60 years, and could spend the rest of his life behind bars.
As we touched on above, this large difference is partially due to the son’s past history of sex offenses.
Possession of child pornography charges are upgraded to a second degree felony if the defendant has previous child pornography convictions. Charges are upgraded to a first degree felony if the defendant has two prior convictions.
A second conviction of possession with intention to promote child pornography is also upgraded to a first degree felony.
The charges also become more severe when a child pornography case is picked up by the federal court. You can read more about federal and international child pornography charges in a previous blog post.
The Texas Sex Offender Registry
In addition to jail time or fines, people who are convicted of crimes involving child pornography will have to register as a sex offender.
The son is already a registered sex offender, another factor that will contribute to additional consequences if convicted on the pending charges. The father is not on the registry, but will have to register if he is convicted.
The Texas sex offender registry places severe limitations on where offenders can live or visit. If someone on the registry travels or moves, like the son did in March 2018, they must notify the proper authorities. Offenders must continue to register and update their information periodically or face additional criminal charges.
Charged with Child Pornography in Texas?
The penalties for sex offenses, particularly involving children, can include years behind bars and decades of having to re-register as a sex offender. Convictions can have a massive effect on your entire life.
Fortunately, a charge is not a conviction. Defendants have the opportunity to form a defense and have the charges dropped against them. Defense strategies can also lessen the penalties if found guilty. If you are charged with child pornography crimes in Texas, it is important to reach out to a skilled defense lawyer immediately and start building your case.