Michigan Child Pornography Law

Most people are aware of the general concept that child pornography, also known as “kiddie porn,” is illegal. However, it is not common knowledge that a criminal charge for child sexually abusive activity can present serious and life-altering challenges. Our highly skilled Michigan defense attorneys can help avoid jail and prison.

Michigan Child Sexually Abusive Material (CSAM) Definition

Under Michigan law, child pornography is called “child sexually abusive material.” In basic terms, child sexually abusive material is an image or recording of a person or what appears to be a person who is under the age of 18 and is engaging in sexual intercourse, erotic fondling, sadomasochistic abuse, masturbation, passive sexual involvement, sexual excitement, or erotic nudity. There are numerous defenses to a child pornography charge that may be available. Some of these defenses require the assistance of a computer or medical expert. All of the available defenses will require the assistance of an effective trial attorney.

The Michigan child pornography law outlaws many activities surrounding child sexually abusive material. The possible child pornography charges in Michigan are:

Creating child pornography

  • Arranging for, producing, making, copying, reproducing, financing, or attempting to, preparing to, or conspiring to arrange for, produce, make, copy, reproduce, or finance child sexually abusive activity or material for personal, distributional, or other purposes if the defendant knows or should reasonably know that the material includes a child who is under the age of 18 or if the defendant does not take reasonable precautions to determine the age of the child
  • Maximum penalty: 20 years in prison and $100,000 fine

Enticement of child pornography

  • Persuading, inducing, enticing, coercing, causing, or knowingly allowing a child to engage in child sexually abusive material for the purpose of producing any child sexually abusive material if the defendant knows or should reasonably know that the material includes a child who is under the age of 18 or if the defendant does not take reasonable precautions to determine the age of the child
  • Maximum penalty: 20 years in prison and $100,000 fine

Distribution of child pornography

  • Distributing, promoting, or financing the distribution or promotion of child sexually abusive material or activity, or receiving child sexually abusive material or activity for the purpose of distributing or promoting it, or conspiring, preparing, or attempting to distribute, receive, finance, or promote child sexually abusive material or activity if the defendant knows or should reasonably know that the material includes a child who is under the age of 18 or if the defendant does not take reasonable precautions to determine the age of the child
  • Maximum penalty: 7 years in prison and $50,000 fine

Possession of child pornography

  • Knowingly possessing or knowingly seeking and accessing any child sexually abusive material if the defendant knows or should reasonably know that the material includes a child who is under the age of 18 or if the defendant does not take reasonable precautions to determine the age of the child
  • Maximum penalty: 4 years in prison and $10,000 fine

Sexting

One relatively new phenomenon in Michigan is what is referred to as “sexting.” Sexting is when a person texts a sexual image of themselves to another person. The problem arises when the sexual image is of a person who is under the age of 18.

Imagine a scenario where a 17 year-old high school girl takes a sexually erotic photo of herself and sends it to her boyfriend. She does this on her own and it is consensual. Under the current Michigan law, she could be charged with the 20 year felony of creation of child sexually abusive material, the 7 year felony of distribution of child pornography, and, if she doesn’t immediately delete the image from her phone, the 4 year felony of possession of child pornography. If her boyfriend doesn’t immediately delete the image from his phone, he could be charged with the 4 year felony of possession of child pornography. As a practical matter, many teenage recipients of these kinds of photos send them on to other people. If the boyfriend sends the image to one of his buddies, the boyfriend can be prosecuted for the 7 year felony of distribution of child pornography and, if the buddy doesn’t immediately delete the image from his phone, he faces prosecution for the 4 year felony of possession of child pornography.

It is easy to see how these things can snowball throughout a school. The child pornography laws were created to protect children under the age of 18 from being exploited for sex. However, prosecutors in Michigan have begun regularly bringing serious criminal charges against teenagers for these consensual images. The real irony is that the age of consent to sex in Michigan is 16, so there are 16 and 17 year-olds who legally can have consensual sex but cannot take an image of themselves doing so for fear of getting prosecuted for a 20 year felony charge for creation of child porn.

Michigan Child Pornography Defense Lawyers

We are frequently contacted by parents wanting to know what to do when they find CSAM images on their son’s or daughter’s computer. The best thing a person accused of a child pornography offense can do is to immediately retain qualified counsel. It is essential to have an attorney on the case who is experienced with these types of cases. Child porn defense sometimes involve complex technical analysis, and our office regularly works with computer analysts to form our defense strategy. Our attorneys have been defending people accused of child porn offenses and other sex offenses for many years. Contact us today for a free initial phone screening of your case.

Back to
Top ▲