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New Jersey child pornography laws may become stricter

Parole is an important part of our legal system. It allows those who are convicted of crimes to serve part of their sentence in the community rather than in prison. This prevents overcrowding and helps those helps those who are rehabilitated during their incarceration. Persons convicted of crimes are typically eligible for parole after they have served one-third or 33 percent of their sentence.

If a bill that recently passed without opposition in the both the house and the senate is signed by the Governor, however, those convicted of child pornography crimes in New Jersey would not be eligible for parole until they have completed 85 percent of their sentence. Another major change addressed in the bill is that anyone who shares pornographic images of minors—even on a peer-to-peer level—qualifies to be charged with distribution. Proponents of the bill argue that the current laws are antiquated and need to be updated. They also state that it will eliminate discrepancies in sentencing between federal and state courts.

While the intent of the bill is to protect children and their families, it could actually hurt some people accused of child pornography, especially those who are falsely accused. Furthermore, distribution and possession of child pornography are two very different crimes. Is it fair to punish someone who simply looked at an image or e-mailed it to a friend using the same parole guidelines as someone who is broadly distributing the images? Those who are accused of sex crimes may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney who can aggressively defend their constitutional rights, especially if this bill becomes a law.

Source: The Star-Ledger, Bill overhauling state child pornography laws arrives on Gov. Christie's desk,”June 24, 2013.