Illinois imposes strict penalties for child Pornography crimes. The penalties range from probationable felonies to non-probationable Class X felonies with consecutive sentencing. Illinois employs a broad definition of child pornography, including traditional and electronic media. Specifically, the law mentions film, tape, and photograph as well as other visual depictions in electronic format.
In order to qualify as child pornography, the visual depiction must be sexually explicit in nature as well as feature a child under the age of 18 or a person with a Severe Mental Disability.
Armed with a comprehension of what constitutes child pornography in Illinois, the next section will explore what it means to disseminate.
What is Dissemination of Child Pornography?
Dissemination penalties are often worse than simple possession, particularly if the items disseminated are moving depictions. Pursuant to 720 ILCS 5/11-20.1(f)(1), there are two versions of Dissemination under Illinois law. On one level, dissemination can refer to a sale, distribution, or exchange. On the other level, dissemination can refer to an upload, download or other means of electronic distribution.
It is a crime to disseminate, attempt to disseminate, display or reproduce child pornography. It is also a crime to possess child pornography with the intent to disseminate. It is important to note that dissemination need not actually occur, but it can also be inferred. If a person possesses multiple copies of the same child pornography material, then the judge or jury may infer the intent to disseminate.
There is an important limitation to this crime. The person who disseminates child pornography must have actual knowledge of the contents. Stated otherwise, the perpetrator must know—or have reason to know—that the sexually explicit materials depict children under 18 years old or people with severe mental disability.
Penalties for Dissemination of Child Pornography
Under 720 ILCS 5/11-20.1(c), there are two different branches of penalties for dissemination of child pornography. For offenses involving “film, videotape, or other moving depiction,” dissemination is a Class X felony, punishable by six to 30 years in jail and $1,000 to $100,000 in fines. For all other offenses, dissemination is a Class 1 felony, punishable by four to 15 years in jail and $1,000 to $100,000 in fines.
For materials involving children under the age of 13, there are other penalties. If a person disseminates this type of child pornography, it is a Class X felony, punishable by six to 30 years in jail and $2,000 to $100,000 in fines. If that same person had a previous conviction for a qualifying sex crime, it is also a Class X felony. The fines remain the same, but the mandatory minimum sentence increases to nine years.
Under 720 ILCS 5/11-20.1(b)(6), certain child pornography materials are considered violent or abusive in nature. If a person disseminates child pornography that features penetration or sexual abuse of a child, then the offense becomes a crime of violence and features additional penalties.
There are also special rules in place for repeat offenders of child pornography laws. If a person is convicted for multiple child pornography crimes within 10 years, the court will order a required psychiatric test.
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