Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor graphic with Texas flag
Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor graphic with Texas flag

Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor

The Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor crime in the state of Texas gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you have material that is “harmful” to children and you and sell, exhibit, or display this harmful material to a minor (or hire a child to help you do this). Learn more detailed information about the Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor offense below.

Have you been charged with Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305 to discuss legal representation.

This is the law that has historically prohibited selling “skin mags” to children in attempt to shield them from pornogrpahy. Although there are now much fewer (if any) places that sell print Playboy magazines anymore, the law does not necessarily limit its application to print magazaines. It could also apply to internet websites.

Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 9 “Offenses Against Public Order and Decency”, Chapter 43 “Public Indecency.”

What is the current Texas law about Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor?

The current Texas law is as follows:1

(b) A person commits an offense if, knowing that the material is harmful:

(1) and knowing the person is a minor, he sells, distributes, exhibits, or possesses for sale, distribution, or exhibition to a minor harmful material;

(2) he displays harmful material and is reckless about whether a minor is present who will be offended or alarmed by the display; or

(3) he hires, employs, or uses a minor to do or accomplish or assist in doing or accomplishing any of the acts prohibited in Subsection (b)(1) or (b)(2).

The law does not require you to have sold “harmful” material to children. You could also be convicted of this if the state’s lawyers prove to a jury that you were “reckless” about whether a minor is present who would be alarmed by the display. Note that this recklessness subsection requires not just a minor to be present but also a minor who would be alarmed or offended.

This law does not address adults who might be offended. “Minor” for the purposes of this law is anyone under 18 years old.2

The statute also defines “harmful material.” This is “material whose dominant theme taken as a whole: (A) appeals to the prurient interest of a minor, in sex, nudity, or excretion; (B) is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors; and (C) is utterly without redeeming social value for minors.”3 For the material to be harmful, it must simultaneously meet all three of these criteria.

How can I be charged with Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor?

You can be charged with Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor if the state’s attorneys believe that you have met each of the elements in 43.24(b)(1),(2) or (3), as described in the section above, have been met.

What is the punishment for Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor?

A conviction for Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor is punished as a Class A Misdemeanor,4 with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to one year. However, a conviction for Sale, Distribution, or Display of Harmful Material to Minor under subsection(b)(3) (that’s the section that addresses hiring a minor to commit the offense) can be punished as a Felony of the third degree 4 with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 20 years. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors


Legal References:

1 Texas Penal Code §43.24.

2 Texas Penal Code Section 43.24(a)(1)

3 Texas Penal Code §43.24(a)(2)

4 Texas Penal Code §43.24(d)

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