It may be legal to possess erotic material in Ohio, but if the authorities have reason to believe you have a commercial interest in sexually arousing material or performances, you may get charged with a felony. At its core, the prohibition of pandering obscenity makes it illegal to create, promote, or distribute erotica or pornography for a commercial purpose in the State of Ohio. Relatedly, it is also illegal to create, advertise, distribute, or possess any erotic materials that depict a minor – whether or not the minor is actually engaged in the sexual activities.
Pandering obscenity is a complex crime involving several statutes and penalty ranges, but the thing to remember is that this offense is always a felony. This means that you will face extreme difficulties in getting a job or going back to school once you’ve served your time. You will be unable to own a firearm or to qualify for most professional licenses. Additionally, you will need to register as a sex offender. In other words, a conviction for pandering obscenity can ruin your life.
For these reasons, you should hire a skilled Cincinnati public nuisance lawyer if you get charged or are under investigation for this offense. The sooner you act, the higher your chances of avoiding the loss of freedom, depleted finances, and ruined reputation that will result from a conviction. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we stand ready to assist you in overcoming your pandering obscenity charges.
Call us today at (513) 338-1890 for a free and confidential consultation on how we might defend your case.
How does Ohio Law Define Obscenity?
To understand the crime of pandering obscenity, it’s necessary to first turn to the definition of obscenity under Ohio Law. According to Ohio Code section 2907.01, a video, audio recording, image, or performance may be considered obscene if:
- Its dominant feature is an appeal to sexual interest
- It arouses lust by depicting sexual activity, masturbation, or nudity in a way that presents the human body as an object of sexual appetite
- Its dominant tendency is to arouse lust by displaying bestiality, brutality, cruelty or extreme or bizarre violence
- It appeals to scatological fetishes by depicting human bodily functions in a non-scientific manner that would revolt an ordinary person
- It contains or describes any of the above, and the material or performance, taken as a whole appeals to a lewd or scatological interest as opposed to demonstrating a scientific, educational, sociological, moral, or artistic purpose.
Pandering Obscenity in Ohio
The prohibition of pandering obscenity is set out in section 2907.32 of the Ohio code. Specifically, this statute makes it illegal to knowingly do any of the following:
- Create, reproduce, or publish obscene material with the knowledge that it will be used commercially or distributed publicly
- Promote, advertise, exhibit, rent, or deliver any obscene material
- Create, direct, or produce an obscene performance with the knowledge that it will be presented publicly, or viewed in exchange for an admissions fee
- Advertise or promote an obscene performance
- Buy obscene material for the purposes of distributing, promoting, or advertising it
A first charge for pandering obscenity is considered a felony of the fifth degree, punishable by six to 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines. For repeat offenders, pandering obscenity is a felony of the fourth degree involving a six to 18-month prison sentence and fines of up to $5,000.
Pandering Obscenity Involving a Minor
A related statute, Ohio Code 2907.321, prohibits the creation, promotion, advertising, possession, or importation into the state of Ohio any obscene material or performance that depicts a minor – whether as a participant to or an observer of the lewd acts. It doesn’t matter if the alleged minor is actually over 18 if the material or performance depicts that person as being a minor. Finally, you cannot escape a conviction under this section by claiming that you did not know that the alleged minor was actually under 18.
Pandering obscenity or importing obscene material involving a minor is a felony of the second degree punishable by two to eight years in prison and/or $15,000 in fines. The simple possession of obscene material with a child participant is a fourth- degree felony, carrying a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Registering as a Sex Offender After a Conviction
Many people convicted of pandering obscenity find that the consequences of registering as a sex offender are just as difficult to deal with as the burden of serving time and paying fines. Depending on the severity of the pandering obscenity offense that you allegedly committed, you may have to register as either a tier I or tier II sex offender.
Tier I offenders must register their addresses with the authorities every year over a 15-year period. Tier II offenders, on the other hand, must register every six months for a 25-year period. In either case, you will need to report where you work, your vehicle’s registration number, your phone numbers, and your online identities such as pseudonyms and email addresses.
For a first conviction for pandering obscenity, you will be considered as a tier I sex offender. For a second conviction or a first offense involving a minor, you will be classified as a tier II sex offender.
A Skilled Cincinnati Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
You may be able to defend against pandering obscenity charges. Every case is different, so you should talk to a reputable lawyer about what defense options might be available to you specifically. Don’t buckle under the prosecutor’s pressure and plead guilty to a crime you did not commit. Instead, call a Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer at Luftman, Heck & Associates at (513) 338-1890 today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.