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Houston Pornography and Obscenity Defense Attorney

In Texas, the term “pornography” applies to “any visual or written material that depicts lewd or sexual acts and is intended to cause sexual arousal.” This includes photos, drawings, paintings, films, websites, etc. that show or describe sexual acts intended to be sexually arousing or gratifying to the viewer.

Pornography is entirely legal, so long as it does not depict a minor and is not deemed to be “obscene.” Although the restriction applying to pornography involving minors is straightforward, the limitation on obscenity muddies the legal waters. In a 1957 decision, the United States Supreme Court, while upholding the right to create, possess, or access pornography, clearly defined “obscenity.”

What is Meant by “Obscenity?”

Obscenity, is material that much of society would consider disgusting, immoral, or foul, and which, according to a Supreme Court ruling has “utterly no redeeming social importance.” But these definitions are vague and subjective, and have given rise to a number of cases before the Supreme Court, none of which has successfully defined what is meant by the word. However, the following characteristics of the material in question can be considered as a guideline to determining whether something is obscene:

  • An average person, using today’s community standards, would find that the work appeals to prurient or sexual interests.
  • The work as a whole depicts in images or words in a clearly offensive way, sexual conduct, as defined by state statutes.
  • The work as a whole is lacking in any literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Obscenity is defined in Texas Penal Code Section 43.23 as follows:

  • A person commits an offense if, knowing its content and character, he wholesale promotes or possesses with intent to wholesale promote any obscene material or obscene device.
  • A person commits an offense if, knowing its content and character, he:
  • promotes or possesses with intent to promote any obscene material or obscene device; or
  • produces, presents, or directs an obscene performance or participates in a portion thereof that is obscene or that contributes to its obscenity.

The Texas statute fails to provide a clear definition of what is obscene and what is not. In Texas, obscenity is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, unless it involves a performance by a minor, which elevates it to a third-degree felony, punishable by two and 10 years in prison, and/or up to a $10,000 fine.

Other Restrictions on Pornography in Texas

In Texas, to legally look at or buy pornography, you:

Additionally, municipalities may restrict the sale of pornography in certain locations. Undercover police officers will often visit licensed “adult” businesses to ensure that the law is being followed, IDs are being checked, and minors are being excluded from watching or purchasing their wares.

Legal Penalties for Pornography Offenses

  • Selling sexually explicit material to a minor in Texas is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
  • Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony that carries a potential prison sentence of between two and 10 years in prison, and/or up to $10,000 fine.
  • Possession of six or more identical depictions of a child engaged in a sexual act comes with a presumption of intent to intent to promote child pornography, a second-degree felony, punishable by between two and 20 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Sexual performance of a child is a second-degree felony, punishable by anywhere from two to 20 years in prison, and/or a fine up to $10,000. If, however, the child was under age 14 at the time of the performance, it becomes a first-degree felony, punishable by from five and 99 years imprisonment, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Improper videoing or photographing a minor is considered a jail felony which can result in a jail sentence from 180 days to two years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Get the Help You Need

There are various legal defenses available to Texas pornography charges, depending on the nature of the charge and the circumstances surrounding it. This is something that you should discuss with an experienced Texas sex crimes attorney. The attorneys of the firm of Mary E. Conn Law in Houston are highly competent in defending clients against these potentially life-changing charges.

Mary E. Conn has more than 30 years of experience in defending the accused, and has earned the highest possible ratings from clients and others in the legal community. At Mary E. Conn Law, you will receive quality legal representation, be treated with courtesy and respect, and be kept up-to-date on the status of your case at all times. You may be able to avoid the harsh penalties and sexual offender registry requirements that come with a conviction by calling Mary E. Conn Law today for your free consultation.