Distributing Pornography Can Be a Crime in Oklahoma

distributing pornographyThese days it seems that pornography can be found just about everywhere. Regardless, distributing pornography can be a crime in Oklahoma.

Distributing Pornography Can Get You into Trouble

In Oklahoma, the law defines distributing pornography as willfully and knowingly either:

  • writing, composing, printing, copying, drawing, painting, or otherwise preparing, publishing, distributing, keeping for sale, downloading, or exhibiting any obscene material or child pornography; or
  • making, preparing, selling, giving, loaning, distributing, keeping for sale on any medium any type of obscene material or child pornography.

Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1021

The distribution must be knowing and willful. Willful means that the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the nature and character of the contents of the property alleged to be pornographic. It is not necessary that the defendant knew the exact content or actually saw or read the material. OUJI-CR 4-133

The crime is a felony in Oklahoma and is severely punished. If convicted, a person can face a fine between $500 and $20,000, or imprisonment from 30 days to 10 years, or both a fine and imprisonment.

What is Pornography?

In order to be pornographic, it must be obscene.

Oklahoma law uses this test to determine whether material is obscene. Something is considered obscene if:

  • a reasonable person in that community applying community standards would find it offensive; and
  • the average person applying community standards would see the material as appealing to a person’s prurient sexual interests; and
  • the material lacks any real serious social or artistic or educational purpose.

All three prongs of the test must be met. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1024.1

Despite the precision of the statutory language, the test seems not a far cry from Justice Potter Stewart’s famous quote about obscenity in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Jacobellis v Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964), “I know it when I see it.”

The statutory test still relies on what a finding of what a reasonable person would consider obscene. So, where does Oklahoma draw the line?

The statutory test applies community standards. Thus, what is considered obscene in Oklahoma may be different than what is considered obscene in Las Vegas.

There are things that would seem obviously obscene, but other things, such as art, may tread a thinner line. An XXX-rated movie is probably considered pornographic, while a nude sculpture may not—but the closer the material is to that line, the more likely you are to step over it.

Bring your questions and concerns to an experienced Tulsa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, especially if you are being investigated or charged. Your attorney can help you understand what options may be open to you and will help you construct your best defense.

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