This law prohibits the dissemination of material or “matter” which may be harmful to a minor. This includes matter by means of any handwritten or printed material, visual representation, live performance or sound recording.
Under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 272, Section 28, it is unlawful for an adult to distribute, share or provide a minor with matter or material that is considered harmful to minors. For purposes of this law, the term minor means a person under age 18.
Legal Elements for Dissemination of Material Harmful to Minors
In order to be found guilty of Dissemination of Material Harmful to Minors under Massachusetts criminal law, there must be strong evidence of the following three legal elements:
- the matter or material in question was harmful to minors
- the defendant intentionally disseminated the material to a person he or she knew or believed to be a minor
- the defendant did so knowing the matter to be harmful to minors
What is Matter for Purposes of Dissemination of Material Harmful to Minors
Under Massachusetts criminal law, the term matter means any handwritten or printed material, visual representation, live performance or sound recording.
This includes, but is not limited to, books, magazines, films, pamphlets, pictures, photographs, figures, statues, plays, dances, electronic or computer file, or electronic communication such as email, instant message, text message, and any other communication created by means of use of the Internet or wireless network.
What is Considered Harmful to Minors
Matter is harmful to minor if it is obscene. This means that if taken as a whole, the material describes or represents nudity, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement, so as to appeal predominantly to the prurient sexual interest of minors; is contrary to prevailing community standards of decency; and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
What is Considered Dissemination
For purposes of this law, disseminate means to import, publish, produce, print, manufacture, distribute, sell, lease, exhibit, or display. In order to prove dissemination of material harmful to minors, there must exist strong evidence that the defendant exhibited or displayed the matter to a person under age 18.
Potential Punishment if Convicted of Dissemination of Material Harmful to Minors in Massachusetts
The penalty regarding Dissemination of Material Harmful to Minors may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 272, Section 28. Convicted offenders may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment by not more than five years in state prison or 2½ years in a house of corrections.
Offenders may also face a potential fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for a first offense, $5,000 to $20,000 for a second offense, and $10,000 to $30,000 for a third or subsequent offense.
If you have been charged with Dissemination of Material Harmful to Minors call (508) 213-9113 to schedule a free consultation with top Massachusetts Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Law Firm of John L. Calcagni III.