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  • Writer's picturePeter Lindstrom, Esq.

The Over 16 and Under 18 Dilemma: Child Porn Charges for an image of a 17 Year Old Girl in Minnesota


As a criminal defense attorney, I've encountered numerous cases that shed light on the complexities and contradictions within the legal system. One such absurdity revolves around the age of consent and child pornography laws in Minnesota. The state law stipulates that the age of consent for sexual intercourse is 16 years old. However, possessing pictures of a naked 17-year-old—even if given with consent—can result in severe child pornography charges. This incongruity highlights the blurry lines and unintended consequences that arise within our legal framework.


Minnesota’s Laws


In Minnesota, the age of consent for sexual activity is established at 16 years old, implying that individuals aged 16 or older can legally engage in consensual sexual relationships. However, the possession of explicit images or videos involving individuals under the age of 18 can lead to serious legal repercussions under child pornography laws, irrespective of the age of consent.


The Perplexing Situation


This discrepancy creates a perplexing situation. On one hand, the law recognizes that a 16-year-old can legally consent to sexual activity. On the other hand, possessing explicit content involving a 17-year-old, even if voluntarily shared, can be considered a felony criminal offense that requires registration as a sex offender. The inherent contradiction between these laws raises questions about their rationale and implementation.


The Intent To Protect Children


From a legal standpoint, the reasoning behind these laws is rooted in protecting minors from exploitation and harm. Child pornography laws aim to prevent the production, distribution, and possession of explicit material involving individuals under the age of 18, with the primary focus on safeguarding minors from sexual exploitation and abuse. However, the unintended consequence arises when consensual behavior that aligns with the age of consent law leads to severe legal consequences due to the application of child pornography statutes. As hard as parents try to stop their teenage children from doing things like sexting, they keep doing it. Whether 17 year old should be sending and receiving naked pictures is a separate question from whether they should be harshly punished in our criminal justice system for it.


Possessing a Picture of Someone You Didn’t Know Was a Minor


There is the added difficulty of possessing pictures of someone you assume is over the age of 18 but actually isn’t. Some may think that they would the difference and assume it would be easy to tell the difference. Some of those same people would claim they would never be attracted to someone who is underage. But both males and females go through puberty at different stages and it is not uncommon for a 17 year old girl to be fully developed and practically indistinguishable from an adult female.


The Movie Mean Girls as an Example


When the movie Mean Girls was being shot in 2003, Lindsay Lohan was just 17 years old. It doesn’t take an expert in human development to recognize that she had gone through puberty and would appear to be an adult from a development standpoint. And I don’t think I’d be going too far out on a limb when I say that most heterosexual men who watched Mean Girl’s found Lindsay Lohan to be sexually attractive. A man unwittingly possessing a picture of a 17 year old and being attracted to the 17 year old is such a different situation than the situation that child pornography laws were intended to punish. But Minnesota doesn't distinguish the two. Which doesn't mean that there aren't ways to try and fight your charges. But the laws are strict.


Conclusion


The incongruity between the age of consent and child pornography laws in Minnesota presents a paradox within the legal system. As a criminal defense attorney, addressing cases where someone is charged with child pornography for someone under the age of 18 but over the age of 16, has special challenges. Additionally cases where the age is unknown but questionable, require an evaluation of your legal options and strategies. If you are charged with child pornography charges under such circumstances hire a criminal defense attorney who focuses on defending these types of crimes. A lawyer that primarily does DWI defense likely won’t be the right choice for you. I’ve been trained at the nation’s best seminar on defending sex crimes, including the defense of child pornography. There are defenses and strategies available in child porn cases that people who have been trained do not know about. Make sure you hire a criminal defense attorney who knows how to fight your case.


Contact Subzero Criminal Defense and I may be able to start working on your case as soon as today. 651-248-5142. Subzero Criminal Defense provides a defense with intelligence, creativity, and grit.




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