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Can Wisconsin juveniles face child pornography possession charges?

Felony charges can be brought against a person here in Wisconsin if they are accused of conduct that falls under the state's definition of possession of child pornography. This is the case whether the accused is an adult or a juvenile. The state's child pornography laws apply to minors as well as adults.

While a person accused of child pornography possession being under 18 would not exempt them from facing charges, it would impact the level of charge that could be brought against them. This is because state law sets the charge level for child pornography possession at a different level for minors than it does for adults.

Under state law, for individuals 18 and older, the crime of child pornography possession is a Class D felony. Meanwhile, for individuals under 18, it is a Class I felony. What a person's age is for the sake of this distinction is based on their age at the time of the offense.

This is a pretty big difference in charge level. Class D is the fourth most severe felony class in the state. It could land a person in prison for up to 25 years. Meanwhile Class I is the lowest in severity of the state's felony classes.

However, this does not mean that being accused of behavior that might qualify as child pornography possession, such as activities related to sexting, isn't still an incredibly serious matter for a juvenile. Any type of felony charge, even ones of a less severe class, can have significant implications for a person's future if they end up being convicted. And a Class I felony conviction could still put a person in prison for a fair amount of time (up to three and a half years).

Sources: Wisconsin State Legislature, " Wisconsin Statutes - 948.12 Possession of child pornography. ," Accessed Nov. 17, 2016

Wisconsin State Legislature, " Wisconsin Statutes - 939.50 Classification of felonies.," Accessed Nov. 17, 2016

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