time to learn about child pornography laws in California

California has its own state laws that prohibit certain activities in connection with child pornography. This is in addition to the even stronger federal laws that have higher penalties. California’s child pornography laws prohibit a broad range of conduct in connection with this material. If you have been accused of the crime, you need a child pornography lawyer to understand your legal options and work to protect your rights.

What Is Prohibited in California Child Pornography Laws?

California child pornography laws prohibit the following:

  • Sending, transporting, producing, or duplicating child pornography
  • Developing, printing, and exchanging child pornography
  • Hiring, employing, or persuading a minor to engage in child pornography
  • Advertising child pornography for sale or distribution
  • Possessing child pornography

The Laws Require Knowledge, Which Is the Same as Intent

California’s child pornography laws require that a person engage in prohibited conduct knowingly in order for them to be guilty of a crime. This means that a defendant cannot be guilty of child pornography crimes by accident. Not only does it mean that they must know that the material is child pornography, but they must also have the intent to do the acts prohibited by the law. This is a high bar for the prosecutor to prove, but they may try if they feel that they have the evidence. 

A defendant cannot be guilty of child pornography crimes by accident.

Defenses to California Child Pornography Charges

There are other defenses to child pornography charges the way that the law is written. California child pornography laws define “child pornography” as “any matter or material depicting sexual conduct by a child under 18 years old. The definition is arguably narrower than the one used in federal laws. Your child pornography lawyer could use a number of defenses based on this definition:

  • What was depicted in the picture was not “sexual conduct”
  • The person in the picture was actually not under 18 years old
  • You did not know that the content was child pornography

In California, child pornography laws require an actual sexual act to be depicted. Nude pictures of children with nothing else involved would not meet the definition of child pornography. 

In addition, you could also use some of the same defenses that would be available if you were charged federally. When enforcing child pornography laws, police and prosecutors must still respect your legal rights. This means that they cannot do the following:

  • Pressure or induce you into committing a crime that you never otherwise would have committed, which constitutes entrapment. Your child pornography lawyer could argue that entrapment was the only reason why you engaged in the conduct.
  • Violate your rights by illegally conducting a search and seizing evidence from you. Like any other criminal justice matter, law enforcement must obtain a warrant based on probable cause. There are exceptions to the rule, but they would be limited. Your child pornography lawyer could always mount an attack on the legality of the evidence because this is always the basis for any charges against you.

California Child Pornography Laws Allow it to Be Charged as a Misdemeanor or Felony

In California, child pornography is what is known as a “wobbler” crime. The prosecutor has the ability to charge it as either a felony or misdemeanor. It is up to the prosecutor at their discretion what to charge. Presumably, they would reserve felony charges for more serious instances. However, prosecutors have been known to be overaggressive in their charging. They may charge the case as a felony with the aim of obtaining a plea agreement to a misdemeanor crime. 

Penalties for Violations of California Child Pornography Laws

Here are the penalties for child pornography under California state law:

  • Misdemeanor convictions can result in up to a one-year sentence in county jail and/or a fine of $1,000-$2,500
  • Felony convictions will result in a jail sentence of up to eight years in California state prison. The minimum jail sentence for a felony conviction is 16 months. 

California child pornography laws will also classify someone who has been convicted as a sex offender. This means that they must register as a sex offender after they complete their sentence. This will have many impacts on someone’s life, including:

  • Inability to live in close proximity to certain places, such as schools
  • Difficulty getting hired for certain jobs
  • Public embarrassment over an action from your past
  • Negative impact on your custody situation

You Could Face Both State and Federal Charges

Importantly, if you stand accused of conduct that could violate both state and federal law, you could face both state and federal charges. While the doctrine of double jeopardy prevents people from being prosecuted twice for the same crime, the dual-sovereignty doctrine holds that a crime under one government’s laws is not the same crime under the laws of another government. Since the state and federal governments are distinct, both could prosecute you for violating their respective child pornography laws.

you need a child pornography lawyer

If you are facing state or federal child pornography accusations or charges, the laws can be complex. Since these cases are based largely on physical evidence, you need an attorney immediately to protect your rights. Law enforcement may be more careful when they know that you have an attorney on your side who can call attention to any mistakes or misdeeds. You are better off doing this early in the process when law enforcement may be still in evidence-gathering mode.

Call Us Today to Speak with a Los Angeles Child Pornography Lawyer

If you have been charged with state or federal sex crimes relating to child pornography, the attorneys at the LibertyBell Law Group are here to help you. We can immediately get to the bottom of your case and develop a legal strategy. In the meantime, we will work to protect your legal rights. Call us today at (855) 529-7761 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. You cannot afford to be without a lawyer when your reputation and freedom are at stake.

Best Civil Attorneys - Gina Tennen

Gina Tennen


At A Glance

  • Expert legal strategist.
  • Experienced in both prosecution and defense.
  • Relentless fighter for her clients with results to prove it.
  • Received the National Top 100 Trial Lawyers Award
  • Featured in Time Magazine’s “Leaders of Criminal Defense” in the 100 Most Influential People edition.

Executive Managing Attorney Gina Tennen is a renowned leading advocate of personal liberties. Her meticulous trial preparation and exceptional ability to pursue every possible defense has earned her the admiration of clients and respect from prosecutors, judges, and other criminal attorneys all over the nation.

Lawyer Tennen began her career as a Senior Law Clerk for one of the toughest District Attorney’s offices in the country where she gained remarkable experience in juvenile crimes, elder abuse, parole hearings, child abuse, sex and other serious crimes. Her experience at the District Attorney’s Office armed her knowledge and case strategy in exploiting the other side’s weaknesses for the client’s advantage and building a rock solid defense. Criminal attorney Tennen’s experience on both sides and brilliant maneuvering throughout is evidenced in her winning track record. In fact, even before earning her law degree, she was instrumental in getting excellent results on several criminal cases outshining her peers.

A consummate strategist and top criminal attorney, lawyer Tennen works tirelessly on many high profile criminal cases. She is known as a relentless fighter who never gives up on any case. Whether the case is hers or handled by another criminal defense attorney from LibertyBell Law Group, no matter how small the case may seem she asserts that every client deserves the right to the best legal representation.

It is her deep belief and what she has built her entire career and lifelong dedication to that there is always hope for every client and every avenue should be pursued regardless of the time and energy it takes. For criminal attorney, Gina Tennen, devoting the finest criminal defense for clients is a habit and talent that you must apply and do all the time.

You demand the best defense. Take hold of your life and speak to our defense attorneys by calling 855-LAW-PRO1 (855-529-7761) now.

Founder Gina Tennen and all the sex offender attorneys at LibertyBell Law Group uphold that when the bell rings, it rings for life and liberty for all.


Gina was like a lioness protecting her cub.


I hired Gina and her team for my son who was facing 10 years for something they said he did when he was 17 years old. Gina was like a lioness protecting her cub. She did not stop. She fought hard and was able to defend the charges. We are so grateful to her and her team. They gave us our son. He recovered his life!

– L. W.
Best defense lawyers in the country.


I hired this law firm in 2014 for my son who was facing 16 years in prison for a felony robbery. Lina Helou answered all our questions. I was extremely distraught regarding what my son was facing but Lina comforted me and told me that it would be okay. And thank goodness LibertyBell saved my son from going to jail and they were able to obtain only 3 years of probation. I could not have hired a better law firm for my son and if you want the best defense call LibertyBell Law Group. Thank God for this great group of lawyers.

– V. J.
A great team of lawyers.


I do not have enough words to describe how incredible the experience with this firm was. They work very hard to make sure you have winning results. I could not have asked for better service from the moment I called, until my case was over. I was glad I made the right choice. Thank you again LibertyBell Law Group!

– S. O.
She took her time to review all of my evidence and proved my innocence.


My father had found this group through his company and coworkers. I was assigned Gina Tennen and I cannot explain in just a review on how gratefull I am to be working with her. My case was an accusation of unlawful sex. This had looked extremely bad on my part since I was in a fraternity and she was in a sorority. During these times with Greek life, there are too many bad stigmas surrounding these organizations. Gina had believed in me and knew that I was innocent and that these accusations just were not true. She took her time to review all of my evidence and proved my innocence. I totally recommend this law group because they are willing to put in the work to help your situation.

– C. D.
Gina always kept me fully aware of how the case was proceeding.


When I first heard I was under a criminal investigation, I initially thought I would try and resolve this in the best way possible, without legal representation, as we were all interested in a "just" outcome. I quickly discovered that was not the case and contacted Gina at LibertyBell. She clearly described the expectations and the choices available to me. She was always available to me, and when I called, if she couldn't talk with me at that time, she would quickly get back to me. Gina always kept me fully aware of how the case was proceeding. Her fee's were stipulated up front, as well as what those fees covered and what they did not.

– S. B.
Attorney Gina Tennen was on point from day one.


Attorney Gina Tennen was on point from day one putting pressure on the sherrif's office to get things handled. With Child molestation accusatinos being thrown around Gina and Attorney Castro were great at keeping the pressure on and had no charges filled. The DCFS indications were appealed and we won with flying colors. Great service, great work, and will use again for all legal matters.

– A. B.
Will Recommend, Total Experience, Awesome Team


Being involved in legal matters can be scary. When researching who to put my trust in, I came across Liberty and I am glad that I did. From the first time that I met with Gina and her team she made me feel comfortable and listened to all that I had to say. She assured me that her team would be on it and that they would do everything that they could! A little while in, Alan took over my case. When meeting with him you can tell that this is his passion and I immediately knew he was going to do everything in his power to make the outcome right! He was relentless and worked day and night working on the case. He kept in constant communication with me and truly cared not only about me but about my family as well. I am forever grateful for the support that this whole team has given me and would definitely recommend them to anyone who is looking for truly the best lawyers!

– L. B.
Write a comment:


Your email address will not be published.



If the police have contacted you regarding a crime, get a criminal lawyer now to help prevent charges from being filed.



Address: LibertyBell Law Group
20350 Ventura Blvd Woodland Hills, Suite 230
CA, 91364
Call Us: (855) 529-7761

This website is an advertisement for legal services. The information on the website does not constitute a guarantee. or prediction of outcome of legal matters.

See the NOTICE OF LIABILITY for additional information on limitations on the use of this website.


© 2023 LibertyBell Law Group

Call Now Button