The Law offices of Arnold & Smith - John Price Carr House
You cannot reason with the unreasonable;
When it is time to fight,
WE FIGHT TO WIN.

Our office continues to operate during our regular business hours, which are 8:30 am - 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday, but you can call the office 24 hours a day. We continue to follow all recommendations and requirements of the State of Emergency Stay at Home Order. Consultations are available via telephone or by video conference. The safety of our clients and employees is of the utmost importance and, therefore, in-person meetings are not available at this time except for emergencies or absolutely essential legal services.

City Leader Arrested for Multiple Child Porn Charges

Child sex crimes are incredibly serious under the North Carolina criminal code. Public officials are not immune from facing sex crime charges in North Carolina. At the end of December 2019, law enforcement arrested an elected city leader on multiple sex crimes charges. Law enforcement officers took Peter Devlin Van Vliet into custody without incident.

A member of the Havelock Board of Commissioners, he faces 12 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Law enforcement officers released him after he posted a bond for $100,000. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the Havelock police department found evidence of multiple sex crimes. They found video files of children, some who appeared to be as young as two years old, engaged in sex acts with adults and other children on his computer.

The Crime of Child Pornography in North Carolina

Under North Carolina criminal law, child pornography falls under the crime of sexual exploitation of a minor. In North Carolina, people aged 18 and younger are considered minors. However, conviction of child exploitation of a minor usually applies when the child is under age 16, which is the age of consent in North Carolina. In North Carolina, child pornography is any visual representation of a minor engaging in sexual intercourse or any other sexual act.

The Degrees of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor in North Carolina

The North Carolina criminal code recognizes three degrees of sexual exploitation of a minor. First-degree sexual exploitation of a minor is the most serious charge that involves producing child pornography. First-time offenders face a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

Second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor means distributing or copying pornographic images of a child or children. Defendants convicted of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor face two to three years of prison time, as it is a Class E felony.

Third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor is possession of child pornography, or possession of sexually explicit material depicting children, which is a Class H felony. Defendants convicted of this crime face between four to eight months of prison time.

Additional Penalties for Child Pornography Charges

A conviction for any sexual offense in North Carolina can include significant jail time as well as the following penalties:

  • Expensive fines
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Registration on North Carolina’s sex offender registry
Additional Child Sex Crimes in North Carolina

Most child pornography crimes are considered Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. However, several other criminal laws address crimes against children and sexual abuse of children. Disseminating and exhibiting material harmful to minors can result in up to a year of prison time. This crime involves a defendant showing or distributing pornography of any kind to a minor.

Disclosure of private images happens when the defendant discloses sexual and private images to another person. Convicted defendants can receive sentences of up to two years in prison. Finally, solicitation of a child by a computer to commit a sex act is another serious child sex crime. To secure a conviction, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:

  • Enticing a child
  • Over the internet (or through electronic means)
  • To commit a sex act, including the creation of child pornography

Convicted defendants face sentences of up to two years in prison. With all child sex crimes, additional factors can increase the sentencing for convicted defendants. Judges consider the age of the minor who was a victim of the sex crime, the defendant’s age, and the criminal history of the defendant.

Defenses to North Carolina Child Pornography Charges

If you are facing child pornography charges in North Carolina, it is essential to develop an effective defense strategy. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC our experienced attorneys know how to mount an effective defense. Whether we are helping a client negotiate a favorable plea deal or we are arguing a case at trial, we fight hard for the rights of our clients. The following defenses can be effective:

  • The prosecution cannot prove that the defendant possessed child pornography
  • The defendant did not have the necessary intent to possess child pornography
  • Law enforcement officials used illegal search and seizure practices to find child porn
  • Law enforcement officials unconstitutionally entrapped the defendant
  • The explicit images do not meet the definition of child pornography
Our Lawyers can Help

If you are facing child pornography charges in North Carolina, our lawyers can help. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn how our criminal defense lawyers can help fight for your rights.