A person might be charged with Dealing in Material Harmful to a Minor, Utah Code Ann. 76-10-1206, if they know or believe a person is a minor, or fail to determine the age of the person, and they intentionally do any of the following:
- Provides or distributes to the minor any harmful material.
- Performs or direct to be performed anything before the minor that is harmful.
- Participates in any harmful material before the minor.
The term “harmful material” most generally means sexually explicit or pornographic material. Generally speaking if any person, whether an adult or minor, shows pornographic material to a minor, they may be charged under this statute. Often minors are charged under this statute for sending “sex messages” or “sexting” another individual at school or otherwise. The penalties for this charge can be quite severe and vary depending on certain factors such as the age of the defendant.
Penalties for Dealing in Material Harmful to a Minor
If you are over the age of 18 and are charged with providing, participating, or performing any pornographic material to a minor, you will likely be facing a third degree felony at a minimum. The Penalties for Dealing in Material Harmful to a Minor if charged as a third degree felony include a minimum fine of $1,000.00 plus $10 per article provided to a minor and a minimum jail sentence of 14 days. If you have a prior offense under this statute, you can be charged with a 2nd degree felony carrying a minimum fine of $5,000.00 plus $10 per article distributed and a minimum of 1 year in jail. You should be noted also that the minimums are stated in the statute but a third degree felony carries the potential for up to 5 years in prison and a second degree carries the potential for up to 15 years in prison. Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to obtain qualified representation with a Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney if facing this charge. A minor who is charged under this law may face a Class A Misdemeanor if a first offense. If the minor has a subsequent offense on their record, they may be charged with a third degree felony.
Section Not Applicable to ISPs
The statute specifically exempts internet service providers so long as the ISP is not directly dealing in the harmful material and is not purposefully providing or negligently providing any pornographic material to minors. The key to this exception is that the material must be incident and opposed to a direct function of the internet company. If you are an internet company are being charged under this law, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to determine whether not this ISP exception applies to your defense.
Hiring a Defense Lawyer
Often the Utah Attorney General’s Office is the prosecuting branch bringing these types of charges. As such, if you are charged you may be facing a tough prosecution team that has a reputation of pursing such crimes aggressively. You will need a Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah capable of protecting your interests and working to see your case is resolved in a reasonable manner. We can help. An attorney in our office can take your defense and help to ensure the speedy and proper resolution of your charges. Contact us anytime by phone or email. We look forward to helping you through these stressful times.