Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York
What puts a person or entity at risk of prosecution?
Individuals are at risk for prosecution for Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York if they either knowingly possess and distribute sexual conduct to minors, or who use communication to induce minors to engage in sexual contact for their benefit.
Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York is a serious charge and carries with it serious social ramifications.
You could even face being placed on the sex offender registry. If you or a loved one are charged with Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York, you should immediately consult with a skilled defense attorney in order to help clear your good name and protect against the severe consequences of a conviction.
The Legal Definition of Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York
N.Y. Penal Law § 235.15 to N.Y. Penal Law § 235.24 set out the legal definition of Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York. Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York is a felony under state criminal law.
The “elements” of Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York are the things that the prosecutor must prove in order for you to be found guilty of this offense. Basically, for a defendant to be convicted in a criminal trial for Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York under N.Y. Penal Law § 235.15 to N.Y. Penal Law § 235.24, all of the following must be true:
- You must knowingly possess content that is sexual in nature, and
- You must distribute this material to a minor
Additionally, if you distribute this material for the purposes of inducing a minor to engage in sexual conduct, you may be charged with Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in the first degree. Let’s delve a bit more deeply into these elements of the crime of assault to understand their meaning better.
Element #1: Knowing possession of content that is sexual in nature.
The definition of the knowing possession of content that is sexual in nature is physical ownership of materials that are sexual in nature in either a physical or digital format and awareness of their content.
In People v. Hartman, a shop owner was deemed to have knowledge that the content of magazines she sold to a 13-year-old boy was sexual in nature despite having never read the magazines because it had an “adults only” sticker on it.
This element requires only that you have either physical or digital possession of materials and that you either know or have reason to know that they are sexual in nature.
- For example, Kate owns a book entitled 500 Amazing Erotic Photos, even if she does not open this book it is reasonable to assume that she has knowledge that it is sexual in nature.
Element #2: Distribution to a minor
The definition of distribution to a minor is the discrimination of that content through either gift, presentation, or sale, of the contents to someone who has not yet reached the age of 18 years.
In People v. Foley, a man sent images of child pornography to an individual with whom he was chatting who he believed to be an underage girl but who was in actuality a state trooper. He argued that he did not intend the material to be distributed to a minor. The court held that it was not necessary for the state to prove that he intended the material to be received by a minor.
This element does not require certainty.
- For example, if Kate from the above example, had dropped off her book of erotic photographs in the cafeteria of a boarding school for middle schoolers then even though it was not certain it would be read by a minor it is reasonable to assume that she intended distribution to a minor by her actions.
Element #3: Inducement of a Sexual Act
The definition of inducement of a sexual act is taking action through distributing sexual content to a minor that is intended to cause them to engage in either sexual conduct with the person distributing the content or engaging in a sexual display for the distributor’s benefit.
In People v. Kozlow, a man sent sexual images to a 14-year-old boy and eventually after a series of conversations arranged to meet the child for sex. It was determined that he had induced the sexual act of a child and he was found guilty of Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in the First Degree.
- If Kate, from the above example, had dropped off the book in one of the boy’s boarding rooms with a note to meet her that night at a certain location it is likely she would be found to have induced a sexual act, and likely she would be convicted of Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in the First Degree.
Charges of Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York may be brought in addition to, or in place of, charges for certain other related offenses, including:
Related Offense #1: Obscenity
The definition of Obscenity is the explicit depiction of sexual activity in a manner that is without artistic value in a way that would offend a reasonable person in the community.
An individual may find themselves charged with obscenity if they produce or distribute obscene materials.
If Kate’s book of erotic photographs contained photos of bestiality and child pornography, then it is likely she would be charged with Obscenity.
Related Offense #2: Dissemination of an unlawful surveillance image
The definition of Dissemination of an unlawful surveillance image in the first degree is the distribution of illegally obtained surveillance images of intimate or private areas of another person.
This offense is intended to prevent people from capturing photos of another person while they are naked and then distributing those photos to others.
If Kate, from the above example, had placed a camera in the boy’s shower room and then sold the pictures she would likely be charged with dissemination of an unlawful surveillance image.
Related Offense #3: Prostitution
The definition of Prostitution agrees to participate in sexual conduct with another person in exchange for a fee. This offense is a class B misdemeanor. Someone who agrees to engage in sexual intercourse in exchange for money may be charged with Prostitution.
In the above example, if Kate had charged the boys for sexual intercourse, she would likely be charged with prostitution.
What are some of the essential and impactful cases?
The law surrounding Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York has been refined by a number of cases. One particular issue that comes up fairly frequently when trying to understand the law surrounding Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials is constitutionality.
- In People v. Foley, Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials laws were challenged over the statute being unconstitutionally vague in its definition of “indecent.” It was held that imprecise language does not render a statute vague as long as the language is sufficient to provide definite warnings to a common understanding.
Here it is important to note that the fact that some terms in relation to Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials such as obscenity, and indecency are “fuzzy” does not negate their importance to the application of the law or to the law’s validity.
- Another issue that comes up frequently, especially in cases involving the internet, is the identification of the parties. In People v. Skya, it was held that the mere fact that others could have also possibly used the electronic device that sent the indecent materials does not negate probable cause for an arrest when there is sufficient evidence to give an officer probable cause for an arrest.
- Another issue often raised is the actual age of a recipient. In many cases, officers gain probable cause and make arrests by posing as underage children in chat rooms frequented by sexual predators.
In People v. Gallicchio, it was held that an individual’s statements that he wished to meet a person he believed to be a child for sex were sufficient to support a charge of ____. It was deemed irrelevant that there was no child, and that the person he believed to be a child was in actuality a police investigator.
What agencies detect, investigate, and prosecute this crime?
Investigations and prosecutions for Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York are generally carried out by local police departments and prosecutors, and the New York Office of the Attorney General. Federal and international agencies may also be involved depending upon the scope of distribution.
With the advent of the internet, it is now possible to distribute materials further than ever before, and someone in New Zealand could Disseminate Indecent or Unlawful Material to a minor living in New York. If the crime involves child pornography, there are also state, federal, and international task forces that may be involved in an investigation.
Since many materials that are often involved in the Dissemination of Indecent or Unlawful Materials involve the abuse or injury of children or animals, these crimes are treated as incredibly serious, and agencies put considerable effort into identifying and prosecuting perpetrators.
Penalties for Violating N.Y. Penal Law § 235.15 to N.Y. Penal Law § 235.24:
Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York is a felony. The potential penalties include: The penalties for Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York in most cases include probation without jail time, up to and including 4 years in jail.
The penalties for Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York are steeper if you induce a minor to engage in a sexual act with yourself or for your benefit.
If your case falls into one of these categories—and you knew or reasonably should have known that they did—then you will be charged with Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in the First Degree. The maximum fine for Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in the First Degree also increases to up to seven years in prison.
What are some of the additional consequences of being convicted?
There can be many serious additional consequences of being convicted of Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials. If the conviction involves child pornography or a number of other sexual elements, then you may be required to register on the sex offender registry.
Registration will restrict where you can live and where you can work and carries with it a serious social stigma. Any felony conviction may also impact your status in the United States if you are not a citizen. Your green card may be revoked, and you may be subject to deportation. Your ability to legally possess and own a firearm may also be restricted.
Legal Defenses to Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York
Nobody wants to go to jail or pay a fine—and nobody wants a conviction for Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York on their record. People may start to associate you with this crime, even though they do not understand the specifics of your case.
There are several powerful legal defenses you can use to fight these charges; they include:
One of the defenses for Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York is that the defendant presented materials that were not indecent or unlawful. The law applies to materials that are indecent or unlawful.
There are specific exceptions to obscene material laws in New York that include scientific, educational, and governmental purposes.
This means that if a middle school biology teacher were to present a class on human biological reproduction to a classroom full of minors, that teacher could not be found guilty of Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York because the materials were not obscene under New York law and were disseminated for an educational purpose.
Defense #2: Negating elements of the statute
The second defense for Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York is that the defendant must have met all elements of the statute in order to be found guilty.
Therefore if it can be shown that one of the elements such as knowing possession of Indecent or Unlawful Materials, or distribution to a minor can be negated, then the defendant cannot be convicted.
For example, if Kate had been a mail delivery driver making deliveries and she had delivered a package containing pornographic materials to an underage child while performing her deliver duties, and if there were no indication as to the package’s content, then she did so unknowingly and therefore could not be convicted.
Call us for help.
For questions about Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York, to discuss your case confidentially with one of our criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us. Convictions for Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York carry with them heavy jail sentences and severe consequences such as placement on the sex offender registry.
These consequences can be life altering and follow you for decades to come. In addition, many agencies and organizations may be involved in the investigation and prosecution of Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York.
To ensure you have your best chance at securing your liberty you should immediately consult a skilled criminal defense attorney if you or a loved one are charged with Disseminating Indecent or Unlawful Materials in New York. Our attorneys in your area have a deep understanding of criminal law and will work hard to help ensure you have the strongest defense possible.