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. Pornography is typically defined as: “material that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement”. This includes various forms of media such as paintings, drawings, books, magazines, movies, videos, websites, or computer renderings. It’s important to note that not all depictions of nudity or sex are considered pornographic; the depiction must be lewd and intended to cause sexual arousal.
One notable advancement in technology with legal implications is the rise of deepfake content. Deep fakes use artificial intelligence to create or alter video content so convincingly that it becomes difficult to distinguish real from fake. This technology poses new challenges for pornography laws, especially in cases where consent and authenticity are in question. Texas, like many other states, is grappling with how to regulate such content, particularly when used to create non-consensual pornographic images or videos.
Such developments highlight the evolving nature of pornography laws in Texas, as the state navigates the challenges of regulating online content in an era where digital media is easily accessible and widely disseminated.
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:
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.
Recent legal developments, as of 2023, have brought significant attention to Texas pornography laws. One such notable instance was the ruling against a law requiring age verification on pornographic websites, deemed unconstitutional due to First Amendment concerns. This ruling underscores the ongoing legal debates surrounding the regulation of online pornography in Texas. Additionally, the state’s attempt to mandate health warnings on adult sites has been a subject of legal scrutiny, reflecting the complexities of regulating digital content while respecting freedom of expression.
These developments illustrate the evolving nature of pornography laws in Texas, highlighting the state’s efforts to navigate the challenges of regulating online content in an era where digital media is easily accessible and widely disseminated. The legal landscape continues to adapt, reflecting the complexities of balancing freedom of expression with ethical and legal standards in the realm of digital pornography.
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.
There have been advancements in digital technology and online platforms, which have led to new challenges in enforcing pornography laws. The rise of deepfakes, revenge porn, and encrypted online platforms has necessitated updates in legal approaches and enforcement techniques.
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.