Josh Duggar from the once-popular now-canceled reality TV series 19 Kids and Counting was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. He was released from jail on May 6th, but he is barred from returning to his family home on the judge’s orders that he not live at home with his minor children. He has been outfitted with a GPS electronic monitoring device that ensures he’s not away from the premises except for approved outings like work, medical appointments, and legal meetings. He is only allowed supervised visitation with his wife standing watch, and his interaction with any other minor children is forbidden, even his younger brothers and sisters. The judge also restricted his access to internet-accessible devices and viewing any type of pornography or erotica pending his trial date.
Duggar maintains his innocence and vows to fight the charges aggressively. His lawyers issued a statement after Josh’s release on bond:
"In this country, no one can stop prosecutors from charging a crime. But when you’re accused, you can fight back in the courtroom – and that is exactly what Josh intends to do,"
Josh Duggar is facing federal child pornography charges that state he knowingly received pornographic images depicting the sexual abuse of children younger than 12 years old. He faces two counts, each carrying a maximum of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. The case is part of a nationwide initiative called Project Safe Childhood.
Tennessee Law, Child Pornography Charges, & Teen Sexting
As seen in the case of Josh Duggar, the government is actively working to crack down on child pornography across the United States. Being in possession of child pornography on your phone or computer can result in serious charges. Taking or sharing the images is not a requirement for violation of the law; possession is the baseline for prosecution. Most Tennessee child pornography laws are charged as felonies under the Tennessee Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation Act of 1990. Child pornography can also be charged as a federal crime carrying five years or more in federal prison on the first offense. High school students in Tennessee were vulnerable to these laws as sexting is a popular trend amongst teens; however, the state passed a law in 2017 which stated that minors engaging in consensual sexting would not be subject to felony child pornography laws. Transmitting sexual images of minors using your phone is illegal – even if the picture is shared by the minor in the images, so teens in possession of sexual text messages may still receive an unruly offense charge.
Tennessee laws are very severe for those convicted of these crimes, and there are varying levels of severity based on intent:
- Sexual Exploitation of a Minor: The crime of knowingly possessing sexually explicit materials featuring a minor. The charge carries up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. There is a penalty enhancement if there are more than 50 pieces of charged material.
- Aggravated Sexual Exploitation of a Minor: The crime of making money through the exchange of materials that involve minors engaged in sexual activity. The charge carries up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. There is a penalty enhancement if there are more than 25 pieces of charged material.
- Especially Aggravated Sexual Exploitation of a Minor: The crime of creating or producing child pornography. The charge is the most serious of Tennessee’s child pornography offenses and carries a sentence of 8 to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Serious Defense in Challenging Times
Contact our offices today if your teen has received an unruly offense charged under Tennessee child pornography laws. Call us today at (931) 361-4477 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form to request more information.