Child pornography is a serious offense under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). If you are charged with such an offense, the military court may punish you more severely than a civilian court, as the UCMJ criminalizes any conduct that can discredit the armed forces. Because of the inherent nature of the charges, your military career and moral reputation are at profound risk. You should know of the gravity of these accusations.
What is child pornography?
According to the UCMJ, child pornography is any material that involves an obscene graphic portrayal or representation of a child or minor (under the age of 18) engaging in sexually explicit behavior. A visual depiction can be in the form of photographs, videos, film or any other digital medium.
Possession of child pornography involves the following elements:
- The accused much have knowingly and intentionally possessed, received, or viewed child pornography
- That the conduct of the accused goes against the good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature that can bring discredit upon the armed forces
The child in the visual depiction does not need to be performing any sexual act; the material itself must only be sexually suggestive. Similarly, the sexual conduct in the material can be actual or a simulation. You may not even realize the person in the material was a child.
Punishment for child pornography offenses
A conviction for possessing child pornography can result in a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and allowances, and a maximum of ten years imprisonment. The court may also order the service member to register as a sex offender.
If the military court finds the service member guilty of possessing child pornography with the intent to distribute, the sentence will be harsher. A conviction for distributing child pornography would carry the same punishments as possessing child pornography, but with 20 years of imprisonment. Producing child pornography can lead to 30 years in confinement.
A court-martial may be your only chance to defend yourself against an allegation. This is when finding a skilled, knowledgeable military justice attorney is vital.