Pornography Laws in Texas
Some people have a moral objection to certain forms of pornography. They may find them in poor taste or believe that they are harmful to society. Other people object to pornography for religious reasons.
While it is normal for some people to find pornography objectionable, some forms of it can actually land a person in jail. Texas laws regulate the distribution of pornography in this state and breaking these rules can lead to an arrest, prosecution and jail time. Some pornography offenses may even lead to lifetime sex offender registration. Read on to learn more about the ways that pornography is regulated in the state of Texas.
Before a discussion can be had on Texas pornography laws, it’s important to understand exactly what constitutes pornographic material in the state. Pornography is typically defined as:
*”Visual or written material which depicts lewd or sexual acts and which is intended to cause sexual arousal”
This applies to any painting, drawing, book, magazine, movie, video, website or computer rendering which depicts sexual activity for the purpose or arousing or gratifying the sexual desires of any person. Under this definition, depictions of nudity or sex aren’t necessarily considered pornographic. To be considered pornography, the depiction must be lewd in nature and must be intended to cause sexual arousal.
Is Porn Legal In Texas?
If you’re wondering if pornography is legal for sale, distribution or viewing in Texas, the short answer is yes. However, this answer comes with a caveat. Buying, selling or viewing pornography is only legal under certain circumstances.
For example, in Texas, in order to view or purchase pornography, you must:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Purchase items from a licensed resale shop or distributor
- Refrain from giving such material to minors under 18
- Only view or purchase material which depicts consenting adults aged 18 or older
This applies to all types of pornography, both online and offline. From erotic paperback novels to high-definition websites, all legal pornography must comply with these rules or legal action can be taken.
What Is And Isn’t Legal
To put it simply, it is 100% legal for consenting Texas adults aged 18 or over to view, purchase and possess pornography. However, they cannot necessarily do anything they want with this material.
For example, Jackson is 18 years of age and he visits a local adult novelty store. He purchases a pornographic magazine legally and leaves the store. However, once outside, Jackson begins showing the magazine’s contents to everyone who passes on the street. This might sound like a harmless prank but it’s against Texas law. Jackson can be arrested and charged with a Class A misdemeanor under section 43.23 of the Texas Penal Code, which deals with obscenity.
An act of obscenity is the intentional possession and promotion of obscene material and is a criminal offense.
If Jackson had been only 16 years of age and the adult novelty store clerk sold him the same magazine, the store clerk could be arrested and charged with a violation of Texas Penal Code 43.24 for selling explicit material to a minor. This is also a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
It is also illegal at all times to possess, distribute, sell or promote any pornographic material depicting minors under the age of 18. This is a felony that can be punished with years in prison and mandatory sex offender registration.
How Pornography Crimes Are Investigated
Stores which sell pornographic material are highly regulated in Texas. Owners of these stores must apply for special “Sexually Oriented Business” licenses and all employees in these stores must have this license as well. Many cities and towns require such businesses to operate away from populated areas, which is why it is common to see these stores on the side of the highway or in industrial areas.
These stores are frequently visited by undercover law enforcement officers as well as uniformed officers to make sure that everything inside is legal. Some undercover officers may try to purchase explicit material to make sure that the store clerks are checking for IDs and only selling legal items.
Similarly, it is legal to produce pornographic material in Texas, as long as licenses are obtained and regulations are followed.
Online investigations are slightly different. State and federal agents search the Internet for sites which distribute illegal pornography and then they work carefully to learn the names and addresses of people who use these sites. State and federal raids routinely bust up child pornography rings and make many arrests.
The criminal penalties for Texas pornography crimes can vary, but they are all serious. Violating one of these laws can lead to jail or prison time, probation, fines and possible sex offender registration.
Have you violated any pornography-related laws? Quick legal assistance can be the difference between freedom and jail. Contact attorney Brett Podolsky today at 713-227-0087.