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Failure to Report Child Pornography

When the Texas Legislature was considering creating the current law for the failure to report child pornography under Texas Business and Commerce Code Section 109.003, the sponsor's statement of intent provided:

Due to recent technological advancements, information has become readily accessible and available via the Internet. However, this increase in access to information has also led to increased access to child pornography, which is illegal under both state and federal law.

Cases of child exploitation often go unreported or unprosecuted due to the anonymous nature of the Internet and computer hard drives. While federal, state, and local agencies work to combat child pornography through underground sting operations and other aggressive measures and are effectively identifying, catching, and prosecuting sexual predators, child pornography discovered by computer service technicians often goes unreported, partly due to the fact that current Texas law does not require a computer service technician to report such a discovery.

Interested parties contend that several other states have enacted laws requiring computer or information technology technicians to report child pornography found on personal computers during the normal course of repair. H.B. 2539 amends current law relating to requiring computer technicians to report images of child pornography and provides a criminal penalty.

If you are charged with the failure to report child pornography as a computer technician, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Stuckle & Associates PLLC in Plano, TX. We represent clients throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Call (972) 423-4405 today to discuss your case and potential defenses.


Penalties for Misdemeanors under Section 109.003 in Texas 

Texas Business and Commerce Code, Section 109.003, requires a Computer Technicians to report child pornography. A violation of this statute can be prosecuted as a Class B Misdemeanor. It is a defense to prosecution that the defendant did not report the discovery of an image of child pornography because the child in the image appeared to be at least 18 years of age. In many of these cases, the computer technician will assert that it did NOT appear that the image was child pornography, which is a defense to the charge.


Elements of Failure to Report Child Pornography in Texas

The elements for the offense of failure to report child pornography include:

  • The defendant is a computer technician, and 

  • In the course and scope of employment or business, the defendant intentionally failed to report an image that was or appeared to be child pornography.

Texas law provides that any computer technician who, in the course and scope of employment or business, views an image on a computer that is or appears to be child pornography must immediately report the discovery of the image to a local or state law enforcement agency or the Cyber Tipline at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The report by the computer technician must include the name and address of the owner or person claiming a right to possession of the computer, if known, and as permitted by federal law.


Definitions to the Texas Statute for the Failure to Report Child Pornography

The definition of “computer technician” means an individual who in the course and scope of employment or business installs, repairs, or otherwise services a computer for a fee.

The term “child pornography” is defined to mean an image of a child engaging in sexual conduct or sexual performance.

The term “sexual contact” means any touching, including touching through clothing of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person or any touching of the body of a child, including touching through clothing, with the anus, breast or any part of the genitals of a person, with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.


Additional Resources

Bill Analysis for the Failure to Report Child Porn by a Computer Technician — Read the Senate Research Center bill analysis from May 13, 2013 authored by the sponsor of the legislation to make it a crime not to report what appears to be child pornography found by a computer technician. Find out the policy reasons behind the legislation.

Sec 109.001 Business and Commerce Code — Read the statutory language for the crime of the Failure to Report Child Pornography when discovered by a computer technician.


Finding an Attorney for the Failure to Report Child Pornography

If you were charged with the failure to report child pornography, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Stuckle & Associates PLLC by calling (972) 423-4405 today.

The prosecutor is required to prove at trial that the computer technician acted intentionally, or with intent, with respect to the nature of his conduct or to a result of his conduct when it is his conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or cause the result. The defense in many of these cases centers around the fact that the computer technician did not or could not have known that the computer contained child pornography.