O’Toole bill seeks tougher child-porn penalties

TRENTON – A New Jersey senator has introduced legislation to combat child pornography.

Sen. Kevin O’Toole, (R-40), Cedar Grove, introduced S2493, which also would work to prevent repeat incidents by increasing penalties.

“Predators convicted at the state level will face the most severe punishment for getting their fixes by abusing and profiting off of vulnerable children,” O’Toole said in a release. “Families and communities must be protected from the disgusting impulses of the most disturbing criminals.”

The bill, which O’Toole’s office said was prepared in conjunction with the Attorney General’s office, has several elements:

  • Broaden the laws to cover victims younger than 18. Current law only covers those younger than 16.
  • Upgrade causing a child to engage in pornography from a second-degree crime to a first-degree crime.
  • Add the crime of causing or engaging child pornography to the “No Early Release Act,” meaning a convict would have to serve at least 85 percent of his or her sentence to be eligible for release.
  • Impose a mandatory prison sentence for those convicted of distributing at least 25 images of child pornography; for a second or subsequent offense, an extended prison term (associated with first-degree penalties) with no chance of parole.
  • Upgrade the crime of possession to a third-degree crime, from a fourth-degree crime, and impose a mandatory prison sentence; for a subsequent offense, establish an extended prison term (associated with second-degree penalties) with no chance of parole.
  • Make peer-to-peer file sharing a distribution crime, as opposed to possession.
  • Impose parole supervision for life for those convicted of production and distribution of child pornography; force them to disclose any online accounts and passwords.
  • Disallow a conviction for possessing child pornography from being expunged from an offender’s record.

“Right now too many state offenders are able to get away with little or no prison time and for the same crimes face penalties that are much weaker than those at the federal level,” O’Toole concluded. “This legislation modernizes New Jersey’s child pornography laws and makes it among the toughest in the country.”

A companion Assembly bill, A3740, is sponsored by fellow 40th District lawmakers Scott Rumana and David Russo.

O’Toole bill seeks tougher child-porn penalties