It is a felony in Massachusetts to disseminate to a minor any matter that is harmful to a minor (or to possess such matter with the intent to distribute it to a minor). A defendant who is convicted of violating this law is required to register as a sex offender.
To satisfy the elements of this statute, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant: (1) knowingly; (2) disseminated or possessed with intent to disseminate; (3) matter; (4) which is harmful to a minor; (5) to a minor.
Prurient interest means a morbid or shameful interest in sex or nudity which is repugnant to the prevailing moral standards.
Representations of nudity alone do not qualify under this statute, unless they appeal to a prurient interest.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects freedom of speech and expression. Therefore, if the depictions of nudity or sexual conduct in any way advocate ideas that contribute to scientific discussion, or contribute to works of literature and art, they are constitutionally protected.
The definitions provided on this page are the same definitions judges give to jurors who are considering these charges. They are almost impossible to understand. As a practical matter, this charge is most often present in cases of child abuse, where the perpetrator is sexually abusing a minor in a way that involves showing the minor hardcore pornographic movies. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once wrote, when trying to define obscenity, “I know it when I see it.” Massachusetts jurors likely use a similar calculation in trying to decide if matter is obscene or otherwise harmful to minors.
While a felony conviction is serious enough on its own, the sex offender registration requirement for all defendants convicted of this statute presents a permanent and significant hardship. For this reason, if you are charged with this crime and there is any viable defense at all, you ought to consider fighting the case in court with the assistance of an experienced Middlesex County criminal defense attorney. If you have been accused of any type of sex offense, we fill fight for you.