child pornography (CP)

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Child pornography (CP) is any sexual depiction of a minor. Title 18, Section 2256 of the U.S. Code defines child pornography as “any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means . . . of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.” Sexually explicit conduct does not require that the minor be engaged in sexual activity. A picture of a naked child may constitute child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive. 

Child pornography is not protected by the First Amendment and is criminalized in the federal criminal code. Title 18, Section 2260 makes it a crime for any person to knowingly receive, transport, ship, distribute, sell, or possess any child pornography. Title 18, Section 2251 makes it illegal to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for purposes of producing child pornography.

Offenders of federal child pornography laws face severe sentences. For example, a first-time offender convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 2251 could face fines and a statutory minimum of 15 to 30 years maximum in prison.

[Last updated in December of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]