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Disseminating Indecent Material to Minors

Technological advances have made smartphones commonplace in American homes, with teenagers being among the most avid users of them. It is not uncommon for minors to engage in "sexting"—the practice of sending sexually explicit, messages, photographs, or videos via electronic messages.

Adults who are in possession of sexually explicit photographs of minors can be charged with child pornography in some cases, but one of the most common criminal charges to result from sext messages is the offense of disseminating indecent material to minors. Disseminating indecent material to minors can be charged by one of two classes of felonies: Class D or Class F felony.

Attorney for Disseminating Indecent Material to Minors Arrests in Queens, NY

If you were arrested in New York City for allegedly disseminating indecent material to minors, it will be in your best interest to quickly seek legal representation. Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner defends clients charged with sex offenses in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and many surrounding areas of New York City.

Queens criminal defense lawyer Rochelle S. Berliner has experience handling these types of cases on both sides of the aisle because of her prior role in the New York County District Attorney’s Office.

You can have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call 718-261-5600 to receive a free, confidential consultation.


New York Disseminating Indecent Material to Minors Information Center


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Disseminating Indecent Material to Minors Charges in New York City

As it relates to sections of New York Penal Law for disseminating indecent material to minors, New York Penal Law § 235.20.6 defines "harmful to minors" as meaning "that quality of any description or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse, when it:"

  • Considered as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex of minors;
  • Is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material for minors; and
  • Considered as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political and scientific value for minors.

Under New York Penal Law § 235.21, a person commits the class E non-violent felony offense of disseminating indecent material to minors in the second degree if he or she:

  • With knowledge of its character and content, he or she sells or loans to a minor for monetary consideration:
  • Any picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, or similar visual representation or image of a person or portion of the human body which depicts nudity, sexual conduct or sado-masochistic abuse and which is harmful to minors; or
  • Any book, pamphlet, magazine, printed matter however reproduced, or sound recording which contains any matter enumerated in paragraph (a) hereof, or explicit and detailed verbal descriptions or narrative accounts of sexual excitement, sexual conduct or sado-masochistic abuse and which, taken as a whole, is harmful to minors; or
  • Knowing the character and content of a motion picture, show or other presentation which, in whole or in part, depicts nudity, sexual conduct or sado-masochistic abuse, and which is harmful to minors, he or she:
    • Exhibits such motion picture, show or other presentation to a minor for a monetary consideration;
    • Sells to a minor an admission ticket or pass to premises whereon there is exhibited or to be exhibited such motion picture, show or other presentation; or
    • Admits a minor for a monetary consideration to premises whereon there is exhibited or to be exhibited such motion picture show or other presentation; or
  • Knowing the character and content of the communication which, in whole or in part, depicts actual or simulated nudity, sexual conduct or sado-masochistic abuse, and which is harmful to minors, he or she intentionally uses any computer communication system allowing the input, output, examination or transfer, of computer data or computer programs from one computer to another, to initiate or engage in such communication with a person who is a minor.

New York Penal Law § 235.22 establishes that a person commits the class D non-violent felony offense of disseminating indecent material to minors in the first degree if he or she:

    1. knowing the character and content of the communication which, in whole or in part, depicts or describes, either in words or images actual or simulated nudity, sexual conduct or sado-masochistic abuse, and which is harmful to minors, he or she intentionally uses any computer communication system allowing the input, output, examination or transfer, of computer data or computer programs from one computer to another, to initiate or engage in such communication with a person who is a minor; and
    2. by means of such communication he importunes, invites or induces a minor to engage in sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct or anal sexual conduct, or sexual contact with him or her, or to engage in a sexual performance, obscene sexual performance, or sexual conduct for his or her benefit.

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Queens Disseminating Indecent Material to Minors Penalties

Class E felony convictions for disseminating indecent material to minors in the second degree are punishable by sentences of up to four years in prison. When an alleged offender is charged with the Class D felony offense of disseminating indecent material to minors in the first degree, a conviction is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

State law does allow for certain defenses against these charges. Under New York Penal Law § 235.23.2, it is an affirmative defense against any prosecution for disseminating indecent material to minors in the second degree pursuant to subdivision one or two of New York Penal Law § 235.21 that:

  • The alleged offender had reasonable cause to believe that the minor involved was 17 years old or more; and
  • Such minor exhibited to the defendant a draft card, driver`s license, birth certificate or other official or apparently official document purporting to establish that such minor was 17 years old or more.

New York Penal Law § 235.23.3 establishes that in any prosecution for disseminating indecent material to minors in the second degree pursuant to subdivision three of New York Penal Law § 235.21 or disseminating indecent material to minors in the first degree pursuant to New York Penal Law § 235.22, it is a defense that:

  • The alleged offender made a reasonable effort to ascertain the true age of the minor and was unable to do so as a result of actions taken by the minor;
  • The alleged offender has taken, in good faith, reasonable, effective and appropriate actions under the circumstances to restrict or prevent access by minors to materials specified in such subdivision, which may involve any appropriate measures to restrict minors from access to such communications, including any method which is feasible under available technology;
  • The alleged offender has restricted access to such materials by requiring use of a verified credit card, debit account, adult access code or adult personal identification number; or
  • The alleged offender has in good faith established a mechanism such that the labeling, segregation or other mechanism enables such material to be automatically blocked or screened by software or other capabilities reasonably available to responsible adults wishing to effect such blocking or screening and the defendant has not otherwise solicited minors not subject to such screening or blocking capabilities to access that material or to circumvent any such screening or blocking.

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New York Disseminating Indecent Material to Minors Resources

Internet Crimes Against Children | New York State Police — On this section of the New York State Police website, you can learn more about the federally-funded Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The Task Force joins the New York State Police, the New York State Attorney General's Office, and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services in an effort to combat Internet crimes against children. The website discusses disseminating indecent material to minors, sexual performance by a child, and endangering the welfare of a child offenses.

Minors and Sexting: Legal Implications | Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law — View the full text of a paper published in the March 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. The paper uses case examples to illustrate the range of legal outcomes for sexting by minors crimes as well as the role of the forensic mental health professional. The paper notes that New York was among four states to enact youth sexting legislation in 2012.


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Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner | Queens Disseminating Indecent Material to Minors Defense Lawyer

Were you arrested for disseminating indecent material to minors anywhere in New York City? Do not say anything to authorities until you have legal counsel. Contact Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner as soon as possible.

Rochelle S. Berliner is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Queens who represents individuals throughout Queens County, Bronx County, Kings County, and New York County.

Call 718-261-5600 or fill out an online contact form to have our lawyer review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.



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Free Consultation

Submit your information using this form to schedule a free consultation with attorney Rochelle Berliner.

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