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Is it child porn? Sex crimes laws in Maryland may say 'no'

Is it child porn? Sex crimes laws in Maryland may say 'no'

Maryland residents may be surprised to learn that the state’s definition of child pornography does not necessarily include all nude photographs of children. The revelation came after a group of middle-school girls sent nude photographs of themselves to other children. The recipients are accused of distributing the images on Instagram and through other platforms. School officials in Anne Arundel County have not announced whether they have decided to discipline the students allegedly involved with the incident. Further, authorities say that the youngsters did not necessarily commit sex offenses by distributing the images.

Maryland’s definition of child pornography concedes that simple nudity does not make the image pornographic. Rather, the child in the photograph must be involved in actual sexual activity. It is important to note that sex crimes definitions — including those for child pornography — vary significantly from state to state. Although 17 states have passed laws against certain types of “sexting,” Maryland has not.

Still, it appears that the state is attempting to tighten some of its sex crimes regulations. Cyber-bullying laws have gone into effect in recent months. A “revenge porn” law is also being considered by state lawmakers. Legislators have not mentioned any intent to tighten the law for youngsters who are sending illicit photographs to each other, however. One area prosecutor said that families should be in charge of preventing such practices; the law cannot do much unless the image actually qualifies as child pornography.

A Maryland attorney may be able to help criminal defendants who are facing charges for possession of child pornography. It is critical to first determine whether the images can even be considered child pornography under state statute. This critical distinction may have a significant impact on the outcome of some criminal cases in Maryland.

Source: WYPR 88.1 FM, “Why Middle School Sexting Is Not Considered Child Porn In Maryland” Mary Rose Madden, Apr. 02, 2014

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