Dissemination or possession of obscene matter is a criminal offense under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 29. To be convicted of this offense, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant either:
- Disseminated material; or
- Possessed material, intending to disseminate it;
- That material was obscene. Material can still be obscene even if its audience of made up of consenting adults. The prosecutor is not required to present expert testimony that the material has no serious literary, artistic, scientific or political value; and
- The defendant knew that the material was obscene. A defendant had knowledge of the material’s obscenity if he was generally aware of its character or contents. The prosecutor can prove that the defendant was aware of the contents through evidence that the defendant:
- Had actual knowledge of the contents; or
- Had a duty to inquire further into the contents due to the circumstances.
There are various defenses available under this law, including that:
- The defendant was a bona fide school
- The defendant was a museum
- The defendant was a library
- The defendant was an employee of a bona fide school, museum, library or retail outlet associated with or serving the purpose of a school, museum or library and was acting in the course of his employment.
If you are convicted of this offense, you face imprisonment in the state prison for up to five years or in a jail or house of correction for up to two and one half years. You could be fined between $1,000 and $10,000, if this is your first conviction. If you are convicted of this offense for a second time, you may be fined at least $5,000 and at most $20,000. If you are convicted for a third time, you may be fined at least $10,000 and up to $30,000. You could face both the fine and imprisonment.
If you are facing charges for Disseminating Matter Harmful to Juveniles in Newburyport, Salem, Boston, Amesbury, Salisbury, Lawrence, Ipswich, or any town in the Essex, Suffolk, or Middlesex counties in Massachusetts, call Criminal Attorney Bonavita immediately at 978-376-6746 or email her with your case information!