Think twice before sending sexually-explicit photographs to a minor. A Long Beach doctor was recently arrested after he sent lewd photographs to a person he believed to be a 16-year-old girl. The doctor actually sent the photographs to an undercover police officer posing as a teen. He is facing felony pornography charges and a misdemeanor charge for arranging a meeting with a minor for a lewd purpose.
Sending Sexually-Explicit Photographs to a Minor
Sexting is a popular form of communication amongst America’s youth. Sending sexually-explicit messages and photographs can be perfectly fine, as long as both parties involved are (a) adults and (b) willing participants. Things can become messy when a recipient of sexually-explicit communications is a minor.
In California, sending sexually-explicit communications to a minor is a crime under Penal Code 288.2 PC. You can be arrested for sending pornographic material to a minor if you:
- Knew, should have known, or believed that a person was a minor
- Distribute, send, exhibit, or offer
- By physical delivery, photo, electronic communication, or in person
- Sexually-explicit communications
- To a person under the age of 18
- With the intent of arousing and seducing
Penalty for Sending Porn to a Minor
What is the penalty for distributing or showing pornography to a minor in Los Angeles? When charged as a felony under Penal Code 288.2 PC, sending porn to a minor is punishable by:
- 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in a California state prison
- $10,000 in criminal fines, and
- Formal probation.
Mandatory Sex Offender Registration
Penal Code 288.2 PC prohibits sending sexually-explicit communications to a minor with the intent to arouse and seduce. If convicted of targeting a minor in this way, the state requires a defendant to register as a sex offender.
Specifically, violating 288.2 PC mandates the life-long registration as a Tier 3 sex offender. In California, registered sex offenders are required to keep the state apprised of any changes about where they live, work, and travel. Registered sex offenders must also submit usernames, aliases, and other online user information to the state for monitoring purposes. In some cases, registered sex offenders may also be prohibited from using the internet or online communications.
Failure to register as a Tier 3 sex offender in California can result in additional jail time, fines, and consequences.
Is Mistake of Age a Defense?
The LA doctor believed that he was sending lewd photos to a 16-year-old girl. The fact that he was actually communicating with an undercover police officer is irrelevant. Penal Code 288 PC specifically states that a person’s belief that a recipient is a minor is sufficient.
The fact that his intent was to distribute pornographic materials to a 16-year-old is enough to warrant his arrest and the filing of criminal charges.
Is Entrapment a Defense?
The Long Beach doctor sent pornographic materials to a person he thought was a 16-year-old girl. As it turns out, the recipient was an undercover cop. Can he argue that he was entrapped? Entrapment occurs when police trick someone into committing a crime that they would not have committed on their own. In this case, the Long Beach doctor reportedly found the 16-year-old online himself and engaged in conversation. He was not approached by the 16-year-old or influenced by anyone to communicate with her.
Had police initiated the conversation and encouraged him to engage in illegal behavior, the end result may be different. However, as long as police did not trick him into committing a crime, entrapment is not a defense to his actions.
Fighting Criminal Charges in Los Angeles
Have you been arrested for a sex crime involving a child in Los Angeles? You have the right to defend yourself, and the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center can help. Contact our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys today to request a free consultation. We will review your case, explain your rights, and answer the questions you have.