An overview of sexual exploitation of children charges in Pennsylvania

Getting or making a child available for sexual purposes may result in sexual exploitation of a minor charges, which carries potentially serious penalties.

Allegations of sex crimes involving children, including sexual exploitation of a minor, are treated very seriously in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Consequently, they may have a significant impact on people's lives and futures. Unfortunately, however, sometimes such charges are based on false claims or misunderstandings. Therefore, it behooves people to understand sexual exploitation of a child charges, as well as the potential penalties, in order to ensure their rights are protected.

What is sexual exploitation of a minor?

Under Pennsylvania law, obtaining a child under 18-years-old for another person for sexual purposes is considered sexual exploitation of a child. The law defines sexual exploitation as nudity meant to gratify or sexually stimulate, or simulated or actual sexual activity. This may include child prostitution, engaging a child in sexual acts, taking nude photographs of a child or filming a child in sexual acts. People may also be charged with this offense if they make a minor available to another for these purposes.

In some cases, people may exchange or provide photos or other materials, mistakenly believing those in them are of age. Generally, the law does not recognize mistook age as an acceptable defense against these types of charges. This includes situations in which people did not ask for an age or where told the incorrect age by the alleged victim.

What are the possible consequences?

In the state of Pennsylvania, sexual exploitation of a child is considered a second degree felony. As such, state law specifies that this offense may be punishable by a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Additionally, people may also be ordered to pay a maximum fine of $25,000. Depending on the circumstances, some who are convicted of this offense may also be required to register as a sex offender.

In addition to the legal consequences of such charges, there is a social stigma that may be involved with these types of allegations. Consequently, being convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor, as well as having allegations of this offense made against them, could affect people's personal and professional lives. For example, these charges may be brought into child custody disputes or affect someone's employment opportunities.

Safeguarding the future

Even just being accused of sexual exploitation of a child, or other sex crimes involving minors, may have life-changing consequences. People's freedom, as well as their futures, are often at stake. Therefore, it may benefit those who have been charged with such offenses to obtain legal representation. An attorney may explain the laws as they apply to their situations, help them understand their options and aid them in establishing a strong criminal defense.