Recently, a case in Tennessee demonstrated just how serious a conviction of possession of child pornography can be. A lower court in the Eastern District of Tennessee ordered two convicted sex offenders to each pay over $1 million in restitution to the victim of their sex crimes.

However, on appeal, the case was sent back to the lower court for an explanation as to why each man was ordered to pay so much when they were among several others who viewed the child pornography. While both men were found with pictures of the child pornography in their possession, neither of them were found to have taken part in the creation of the pornography, nor did they have any contact with victim.

While the courts are not disputing the fact that the victims in the case have suffered, the law is unclear on how to enforce sex offenders to pay restitution to victims of child pornography. The law states that those found guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor must pay “full amount of the victim’s losses” in restitution. However, this is difficult to interpret, when in cases like above the defendants share responsibility with hundreds of other child porn viewers. Legal experts believe the decision will ultimately have to be made by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Being charged and convicted of a sex crime, like the one above, can have devastating effects on one’s personal life. It is important for anyone accused of a sex crime to know their rights in order to successfully defend themselves against the charges. Failure to take proper action could have damaging lifelong consequences.

Source: The Tennessean, “Appeals court seeks explanation of $1M restitution order in child porn case,” Sheila Burke, Feb. 20, 2013.