What Is Sexual Exploitation of a Minor?

In North Carolina, it is a felony offense to make, distribute, or possess child pornography. This is referred to as sexual exploitation of a minor in North Carolina. Even if you believed that the individual featured was of age, that would not prevent you from being charged with a felony if you are found to be in possession of child pornography or to have made and shared it with others. You won’t be able to claim that you mistook their age as a defense in a court of law. 

If you were charged with sexual exploitation of a minor in North Carolina, contact Kurtz & Blum, PLLC to discuss your rights and legal options. Sexual exploitation of a minor is also a federal crime, and the punishments are severe. To have any hope of successfully fighting the charges against you, you need an experienced Raleigh criminal defense lawyer to represent you. Contact us today for a confidential case review.

Degrees of Sexual Exploitation

Under North Carolina law, there are three degrees of sexual exploitation of a minor. They include:

First Degree

You could be charged with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor if you understand the character and content of the material and you: 

  • Use, employ, induce, force, encourage, or facilitate a minor to engage in sexual acts for a live performance or with the intention of creating a visual representation of this sexual activity (child pornography)
  • Allow a child in your custody to engage in sexual activity in a live performance setting or for the purposes of producing child pornography
  • Transport a minor or pay for a minor to travel within North Carolina to engage in sexual activity as part of a live performance or produce child pornography
  • Record, photograph, film, develop, or copy material that depicts sexual activity involving a minor for financial gain

First-degree sexual exploitation of a minor is a Class C felony in North Carolina. 

Second Degree

You could be charged with second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor if you are aware of the content and character of the material and you:

  • Record, photograph, film, develop, or copy material containing visual depictions of a child performing sexual acts
  • Distribute, transport, display, receive, sell, buy, exchange, or solicit material containing visual depictions of a child performing sexual acts

Second-degree sexual exploitation of a child is a Class E felony in North Carolina. 

Third Degree

Finally, you might be charged with third-degree exploitation of a minor if: 

  • You possess a visual representation of a child participating in sex acts and are aware of the content and character of the material. 

Third-degree exploitation of a minor is a Class H felony. 

Potential Penalties for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Upon conviction, sexual exploitation of a minor can result in imprisonment in the following times based on the degree of the offense:

  • First degree – Up to 231 months 
  • Second degree – Up to 88 months
  • Third degree – Up to 39 months 

Additionally, a conviction will require you to register as a sex offender, which can negatively impact your life for years to come. These penalties only apply if you are convicted of the offense and your charges are not reduced or dismissed. Our criminal defense lawyers will fight vigorously to resolve your case in a way that avoids these negative consequences. 

What to Do if You Are Charged

If you believe you are under investigation or if you’ve been arrested and charged with the sexual exploitation of a minor, it is crucial that you promptly contact an experienced criminal lawyer in Raleigh who has handled child sexual exploitation cases. Law enforcement and prosecutors in North Carolina take these offenses seriously and often pursue charges and the maximum penalties allowed by law. 

Fortunately, an arrest does not automatically guarantee a conviction. There may be numerous defenses to a child sexual exploitation charge. For instance, if you have an unsecured Wi-Fi network, someone who lives near you could potentially have used your network to download child pornography. It’s also possible that the individual featured in the sexually explicit material you downloaded is not a minor. 

You’ll want to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away to discuss the charges against you and begin building a solid defense on your behalf. 

Our Sexual Exploitation Lawyers in Raleigh Can Help

If you were charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, the Raleigh criminal defense lawyers at Kurtz & Blum, PLLC will be ready to help. We have extensive experience representing individuals who have been charged with serious crimes, including child exploitation. Our team will fiercely protect your rights, your freedom, and your reputation. Call us or reach out to us online for a confidential consultation to discuss your situation. 

Seth A. Blum is a graduate of Tufts University and Duke Law School. He also holds a Master’s Degree from the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy Studies. Seth is an experienced trial attorney who is licensed and has tried cases in both North Carolina State and Federal Courts. Seth is an Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy at the University of North Carolina School of Law. He regularly teaches other lawyers advanced trial techniques.