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Proposal: Stricter sex crime penalties for child pornography

New Jersey is hoping to make state child pornography laws as strict as federal sex crime laws. If the legislation passes, the laws would be among the strongest state child porn laws in the U.S.

The legislation focuses on the penalties for violating laws prohibiting child pornography with the goal of deterring repeat offenses. According to state senator Kevin O'Toole (R-Trenton):

Right now too many state [sex crime] offenders are able to get away with little or no prison time and for the same crimes face penalties that are much weaker than those at the federal level. This legislation modernizes New Jersey's child pornography laws and makes them among the toughest in the country.

Some of the proposed changes include:

  • Changing the age of victims to 18; currently, victims are those younger than 16
  • Changing the level of crime from second-degree to first degree for causing a child to engage in pornography
  • Individuals convicted of causing or engaging in child pornography would no longer be eligible for early release and would be required to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence
  • Establishes a mandatory prison sentence for those convicted of distributing at least 25 images of child pornography
  • Establishes an extended prison term (as with first degree penalties) with no chance of parole for second and subsequent distribution offenses
  • Upgrades the crime of possession to a third-degree offense from a fourth-degree crime and requires a mandatory prison sentence for a second or subsequent offense with no chance of parole
  • Changes the crime of possession to a third-degree crime from a fourth-degree crime and imposes a mandatory prison sentence and, for subsequent offenses, offers no chance of parole
  • Changes peer-to-peer file sharing a distribution crime rather than a possession crime
  • Requires parole supervision for life for people convicted of production and distribution of child pornography and forces them to disclose any online accounts and passwords.
  • Makes it impossible to expunge a conviction for possessing child pornography

Source: NJnewsroom.com, "Child Pornography Laws: Jersey Makes Push for Stricter Penalties," Feb. 2, 2013.

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