Sexual exploitation of a minor in North Carolina is most commonly seen as the production, possession, or distribution of child pornography. The NC legislature has categorized this crime as first degree, second degree, and third degree.
In first degree sexual exploitation of a minor, a person:
- Uses, employes, induces, coerces, encourages, or facilitates a person under the age of 16 to engage in or assists others to engage in sexual activity for either a live performance or for the purpose of producing material such as pictures or a video that depicts this activity.
- Permits a minor under his control or custody to engage in sexual activity for a live performance of to produce pictures or video.
- Transports or facilitates the transportation with finances of a minor through or across the state with the intent of having the minor engage in sexual activity for a live performance or to create pictures of video.
- Records, photographs, develops, or duplicates material for sale of pecuniary gain that contains a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity.
Essentially this means that anyone that participates in or facilitates the process of a minor performing in a live show such as at a strip club or working for example as an escort or private dancer, or someone that takes pictures or produces other materials such as video of a minor engaged in any sort of sexual activity, this is considered first degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
In second degree sexual exploitation of a minor, a person:
- Records, photographs, films, develops, or duplicates material that contains a minor engaged in sexual activity.
- Distributes, transports, exhibits, receives, sells, purchases, exchanges, or solicits material that contains a visual representation of a minor engaged in sexual activity.
The difference between first degree and second degree is primarily that in first degree, the person is taking an active role in arranging the performance of sexual acts for the purpose of live performance or to create material to be distributed while in second degree, the crime is more focused on the act of recording or creating the material and not as much in the arrangement of the actual sexual activity. In this case. the crime is about the distribution or sharing of the materials.
In third degree sexual exploitation of a minor, a person;
- Possesses material that contains a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexual activity.
This is the charge most commonly used when someone is in possession of child pornography but has it for personal use and is not distributing it.
It is quite common for a significant amount of information in these types of cases to come from the internet, bit torrent, chat rooms and the like. Usually, law enforcement builds a case by trolling sites and monitoring download activity, and the investigations are usually lengthy. Often, a law enforcement officer will contact a suspect to gather more information as a course of the investigation. If this is the case, you should immediately hire a sex crimes attorney for pre-arrest representation and not speak with law enforcement without that attorney involved.
If you have already been charged, a good criminal defense lawyer will evaluate the facts of the case to determine a defense strategy for how best to manage the case. Once concern in sex offense cases involving child pornography, especially in cases of creation and distribution, is that these charges can actually become federal charges, which greatly increases the consequences.