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Pornography Laws in Indiana 

In an era where the digital landscape continuously evolves, understanding the complexities of pornography laws in Indiana has never been more pertinent. These laws, often intricate and multifaceted, touch upon sensitive aspects of legality, morality, and personal privacy. As such, it is crucial for individuals to navigate this labyrinth of statutes with a clear and informed perspective. 

At the forefront of providing clarity and legal guidance in this challenging terrain is Keffer Hirschauer LLP, a distinguished law firm based in Indianapolis, Indiana. With a profound commitment to criminal defense law, our attorneys are well-versed in the nuances of Indiana’s legal system, particularly regarding pornography laws. Our firm recognizes the profound impact these laws can have on individuals and communities alike, and we are dedicated to offering comprehensive legal support to those entangled in such complex legal matters. 

This blog post aims to untangle some of the intricacies of pornography laws in Indiana, shedding light on various aspects from legal definitions to the consequences of non-compliance. Whether you’re a concerned citizen seeking to understand your rights or facing legal challenges in this domain, our Indianapolis criminal defense law firm stands ready to offer expert guidance and robust representation. As we delve into the nuances of these laws, our goal is to empower you with knowledge, preparing you to navigate these legal waters with confidence and awareness. 

However, if you’ve already been charged with a sex crime in Indiana, or a related offense, the best thing you can do is contact our office as soon as possible. To speak with an Indiana criminal defense attorney today call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Looking for a Criminal Defense Attorney in Indiana? Call Keffer Hirschauer LLP Today.

 Obscene Matter and Performance in Indiana  

Generally, pornography is typically defined as any visual representation, including photos, videos, or digital imagery, that depicts sexual conduct in a manner deemed explicit and intended to cause sexual arousal. However, not all sexually explicit material is considered illegal. Indiana’s approach to regulating pornography is rooted in a delicate balance between protecting individual freedoms and maintaining public morals and safety. The legality hinges on several factors, such as the nature of the content, the age of the individuals depicted, and the context in which the material is produced, distributed, or possessed. 

Obscene Matter or Performance 

At its core, the legality of adult pornography in Indiana revolves around the state’s definition of obscene matter or performance. Under Indiana Code 35-49-2-1, a matter or performance is obscene if the average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that the dominant theme of the matter or performance, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex; and the matter or performance: 

  • depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct; and 
  • taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value 

For the purposes of pornography laws in Indiana, the term, “matter” includes books, magazines, newspapers, pictures, drawings, photographs, motion pictures, recordings or articles; while the term “performance,” includes “any play, motion picture, dance, or other exhibition or presentation, whether pictured, animated, or live, performed before an audience of one or more persons.” On top of that, as clearly defined in Indiana Code 35-49-1-9, sexual conduct includes acts of sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct; exhibition of the uncovered genitals in the context of masturbation or other sexual activity; exhibition of the uncovered genitals of a person under sixteen years of age; sad-masochistic abuse; or sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with an animal.  

As outlined in Indiana Code 35-49-3-1, a person may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if they knowingly or intentionally send (or bring into Indiana) obscene matter for sale or distribution; or exhibit, distribute, or offer to distribute obscene matter to another person. If the matter in question depicts or describes any person who is or appears to be under 18, this charge may be elevated to a Level 6 felony. 

Furthermore, if a person knowingly or intentionally engages in, participates in, manages, produces, sponsors, presents, exhibits, photographs, films or videotapes any obscene performance in Indiana, they commit a Class A misdemeanor under Indiana Code 35-49-3-2. Again, if the matter in question depicts or describes any person who is or appears to be under 18, this charge may be elevated to a Level 6 felony. 

Dissemination of Matter or Conducting Performance Harmful to Minors 

As clearly defined in Indiana Code 35-49-2-2, a matter or performance is harmful to minors if it describes or represents nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse; considered as a whole, to appeal to the prurient interest in sex of minors; is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable matter for or performance before minors; and is considered, as a whole, to lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.  

Under the revised laws on the matter, effective January 1, 2024, a person may be charged with a Level 6 felony for the dissemination of matter or conducting a performance harmful to minors, if they knowingly or intentionally:  

  • Disseminate matter to minors that is harmful to minors 
  • display matter that is harmful to minors in an area to which minors have visual, auditory, or physical access, unless each minor is accompanied by the minor’s parent or guardian; 
  • sell, rent, or display for sale or rent to any person matter that is harmful to minors within five hundred (500) feet of the nearest property line of a school or church; 
  • engage in or conduct a performance before minors that is harmful to minors; 
  • engage in in or conduct a performance that is harmful to minors in an area to which minors have visual, auditory, or physical access, unless each minor is accompanied by the minor’s parent or guardian; 
  • misrepresent the minor’s age for the purpose of obtaining admission to an area from which minors are restricted because of the display of matter or a performance that is harmful to minors; or 
  • misrepresent that the person is a parent or guardian of a minor for the purpose of obtaining admission of the minor to an area where minors are being restricted because of display of matter or performance that is harmful to minors 

Indiana Pornography Laws Involving Children  

The pornography laws in Indiana adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards child exploitation. Any material that visually depicts or represents minors engaged in sexual activity is strictly illegal, irrespective of the medium. This prohibition extends to possession, creation, distribution, and even viewing such content. The laws are stringent, with severe penalties for violators, reflecting the state’s commitment to protecting minors. 

As detailed in Indiana Code 35-42-4-4, a person may be charged with child exploitation, a Level 5 felony in Indiana, if they:   

  • knowingly or intentionally manage, produce, sponsor, present, or exhibit photographs, films, videotapes, or create a digitized image of any performance or incident that: 
  • includes sexual conduct by a child under eighteen (18) years of age; or  
  • any performance or incident that includes the uncovered genitals of a child less than eighteen (18) years of age or the exhibition of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple by a child less than eighteen (18) years of age 
  • knowingly or intentionally disseminate, exhibit to another person, offer to disseminate or exhibit to another person, or send or bring into Indiana for dissemination or exhibition matter that:  
  • depicts or describes sexual conduct by a child under eighteen (18) years of age; or 
  • any performance or incident that includes the uncovered genitals of a child less than eighteen (18) years of age or the exhibition of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple by a child less than eighteen (18) years of age 
  • knowingly or intentionally makes available to another person a computer, knowing that the computer’s fixed drive or peripheral device contains matter that: 
  • depicts or describes sexual conduct by a child less than eighteen (18) years of age; or  
  • depicts the uncovered genitals of a child less than eighteen (18) years of age or the exhibition of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple by a child less than eighteen (18) years of age 
  • knowingly or intentionally produce, disseminate, or possess with intent to disseminate an image that depicts or describes sexual conduct  
  • by a child who the person knows is less than eighteen (18) years of age; 
  • by a child less than eighteen (18) years of age, or by a person who appears to be a child less than eighteen (18) years of age, if the image is obscene; or  
  • that is simulated sexual conduct involving a representation that appears to be a child less than eighteen (18) years of age, if the representation of the image is obscene 

Under some circumstances, the pornography laws in Indiana allow for those suspected of child exploitation to be charged with a Level 4 felony. These circumstances vary, but generally, include factors related to the specific content of the pornography and the age and mental capacity of the victim. 

Possession of Child Pornography in Indiana 

In addition to child exploitation, a person may be charged with possession of child pornography, a Level 6 felony under most circumstances. This can occur when a person, with the intent to view an image, knowingly or intentionally possesses or accesses an image that depicts or describes sexual conduct by a child who the person knows is less than 18 years of age. It may also occur when the image in question is of a child who less than 18 years old or by a person who appears to be a child less than 18, if the representation of the image is obscene. Finally, a person may be charged with possession of child pornography in Indiana if they possess or access an image that includes simulated sexual conduct involving a representation that appears to be a child less than 18 years of age, if the image is obscene.  

Once again, the pornography laws in Indiana allow for those suspected of being in possession of child pornography to be charged with a Level 5 felony if certain enhancing circumstances apply. Similar to the laws on child exploitation, these circumstances vary, but generally include factors related to the specific content of the pornography and the age and mental capacity of the victim. 

 Revenge Pornography Laws in Indiana  

The advent of the internet and digital media has added complexity to enforcing the pornography laws in Indiana. However, in recent years, the state addressed concerns of revenge pornography in Indiana by enacting a law that prohibits individuals from “distributing an intimate image,” without consent. 

As stated in Indiana Code 35-45-4-8(c), a person who “knows or reasonably should know that an individual depicted in an intimate image does not consent to the distribution of the intimate image; and distributes the intimate image; commits distribution of an intimate image, a Class A misdemeanor. However, the offense is a Level 6 felony if the person has a prior unrelated conviction under this section.”  

For the purposes of this law, an “intimate image,” refers to a photograph, digital image or video that depicts sexual intercourse, other sexual conduct (see below), or exhibition of the uncovered buttocks, genitals, or female breast of an individual.” Per Indiana law, this photograph, digital image or video, must have either been taken, captured, or recorded by an individual depicted and given or transmitted directly to the defendant; OR taken, captured, or recorded by the defendant in the physical presence of an individual depicted in the photograph, digital image, or video. 

Sale of Sexually Explicit Materials in Indiana 

The state of Indiana actively regulates the sale of sexually explicit material, requiring all persons or businesses that intend to sell this material to properly register with the secretary of the state and provide a statement detailing the types of materials they intend to offer for sale. As defined in Indiana Code 24-4-16.4-2, this includes products or services that are: (a) harmful to minors, even if it is not intended to be used by or offered to a minor; (b) that are designed for use in, marketed primarily for, or provide for the stimulation of the human genital organs or masochism or masochistic experience, sadism or a sadistic experience, sexual bondage, or sexual domination.  

If a person or an employee/agent of a person knowingly or intentionally offers for sale or sells sexually explicit materials without properly filing or registered with the state, they may be charged with the unregistered sale of sexually explicit materials. Under Indiana code 24-4-16.4-4, this is considered a Class B misdemeanor. It is important to note, however, that this does not apply to individuals selling birth control or contraceptive devices or services/programs/products/materials provided by a communication service provider (such as a television or internet provider).  

Questions about the Pornography Laws in Indiana? 

In summary, the pornography laws in Indiana encompass a range of statutes and legal nuances, from defining the difference between obscene and legal adult content to strictly prohibiting child pornography and the distribution of intimate images. Understanding and respecting the boundaries set by these laws is crucial in today’s interconnected world. By staying informed and vigilant, individuals can protect themselves from unintended legal entanglements and contribute to a safer and more responsible society. 

The seasoned criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP possess a deep understanding of Indiana’s sex crime laws and stand as a vital resource for those navigating these complex legal waters. Whether you are seeking clarity on the law, advice on how to comply with these regulations, or defense against charges, our team is equipped with the expertise and experience to guide and support you. To speak with an Indianapolis attorney today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Summary
Overview of the Pornography Laws in Indiana
Article Name
Overview of the Pornography Laws in Indiana
Description
This article provides readers with an overview of the pornography laws in Indiana.
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Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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