Can You Go to Jail for Looking at a Website in Utah?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

The internet is so vast that it is probably impossible to count every website or web page. Every minute, more information is uploaded and downloaded from the internet. The internet can be a very helpful research tool or a great place to consume media like movies and television shows. However, not all content on the internet is safe. Many websites contain “adult content,” or pictures and videos of pornography. While people may disagree on whether pornography is obscene or immoral, it is not inherently illegal. However, pornography becomes highly illegal when it involves people who cannot consent, like children. Simply viewing such websites may be a crime in Utah.

Although viewing porn is not necessarily illegal, it can become illegal if minors or other people incapable of providing consent are involved. In fact, many police departments and law enforcement agencies have entire units and teams dedicated to identifying child pornography and finding the people who create, distribute, or view it. Depending on what kind of content is on a website, simply viewing that website may be criminal. However, accidentally navigating to an illegal website is not a crime as there was no unlawful intent on the part of the viewer.

If you are facing legal trouble for viewing or downloading content from a questionable or illegal website, you need help from a skilled attorney. Our Utah criminal defense attorneys can help you assess your charges and figure out how to fight your case. Schedule a free legal consultation today at Overson Law, PLLC by calling (801) 758-2287.

When Is It a Crime to Look at a Website in Utah?

Viewing most websites, even one’s with adult content, is not necessarily a crime. Viewing a website may become a crime when the site’s content is illegal. Illegal content online often includes child pornography. Under the Utah Code § 76-5b-201, someone who views child pornography online may be guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor.

A person can be charged with sexual exploitation of a minor if they knowingly produce, possess, possess with the intent to distribute, or view child pornography. Such an offense may be charged as a second-degree felony, which carries a minimum prison term of 1 year and a maximum term of 15 years, and a fine of up to $10,000. There may be additional restitution fees for victims, depending on your case.

A person could be charged separately for each minor victim depicted in the pornographic content viewed online. This makes for very heavy penalties as the more victims there are, the more charges you may face. However, there are affirmative defenses for charges of intentionally viewing child pornography.

According to the Utah Code § 76-5b-201(4)(b), it is a defense that you did not solicit or ask to be sent the child pornography. This would be applicable in cases where someone sent you a link to an illegal website. It could also apply in cases where a minor sends pornographic photos of themselves to others. It is also a defense if you are no more than 2 years older than the minor victim depicted in the pornography. Additionally, your cooperation with law enforcement will help your case. You may avoid charges if you remove and destroy any child pornography from your electronic device that does not involve criminal sexual acts committed against the victim.

If you are facing criminal charges because you looked at certain websites containing illicit or criminal content, call an attorney for assistance right away. Our Park City criminal defense attorneys can help you fight your charges.

Are All Pornographic Websites Illegal to View in Utah?

While it is a crime even to look at websites involving illegal content like child pornography, not all adult sites are inherently criminal. You will not be criminal charged for viewing legal adult content that does not involve minors or unwilling participants. However, there may be other criminal charges associated with viewing this kind of material.

Under the Utah Code § 76-10-1204, you could be charged for distributing pornographic material if you make the material available to others. Distribution can include bringing pornography into the state to distribute or exhibit. Distribution could be achieved my means of print or digital publication. The laws surrounding pornography are very strict. While viewing it might be fine, distributing it to others may be a crime.

There is a separate offense for distributing or showing harmful or pornographic materials to minors. According to the Utah Code § 76-10-1206, you could be charged with dealing in harmful materials to minors if you share or distribute pornographic material with minors. This could include pornographic material that would otherwise be legal to view on your own. Defendants can be charged with a third-degree felony for each offense of sharing pornography with minors.

For more information about what kind of websites are illegal to view, contact our Riverton criminal defense lawyers.

What If I Looked at a Website on Accident in Utah?

Simply looking at a website is not a crime, even when that website contains illegal material such as child pornography. To make your actions criminal, you must have the intent to view and consume the illicit media. Intent is usually present when you know you are about to view child pornography or other illegal content before navigating to the illegal website.

In this day and age, people are online every day. Anything from business transactions to media consumption to general conversations happen in the digital sphere. Those that are somewhat less technologically savvy may accidently navigate to illegal websites containing illicit material. Viewing this kind of material by accident is usually not a criminal offense. However, anyone who accidently stumbles upon illicit content, like child pornography, should report their findings to the authorities.

If you mistakenly found yourself on a website you think might be illegal to view, you will most likely not face criminal charges. However, our Murray criminal defense attorneys can help you identify the law enforcement agency you can report this information to.

Call Our Utah Cybercrimes Attorneys

Simply viewing certain websites could land you in trouble with the law. Our Utah cybercrimes attorneys can help you understand the charges against you and assert the most effective defense possible. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to schedule a free legal consultation today.

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