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TexLaw
TexLaw, Attorney
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Satisfied Customers: 4201
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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Do I have a legal obligation to call the police if a family

Customer Question

Do I have a legal obligation to call the police if a family member attempted to videotape my daughter's underage friends in the bathroom? It did not work, and he was caught before any videotaping occurred. We kicked him out of our house forever, but should we call the police?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  TexLaw replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. If not film was actually recorded, then you are not under any obligation to report this to the police under the federal and state child pornography laws.

Please let me know if you need more detail.
-ZDN
TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4201
Experience: Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
TexLaw and 3 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Has any crime actually been committed, as he has admitted that his intent was to videotape the girls? I understand your response above, but just want to make sure that we shouldn't report this to police. I also want to make sure that my wife and I, the homeowners where this attempt occurred, are clear of any wrongdoing.
Expert:  TexLaw replied 2 years ago.
The Federal Child Pornography law only applies when a person is in possession of the pornographic image. It is questionable had the relative succeeded whether the captured image would actually qualify as pornographic, as the statute requires it to be "sexually explicit".

The South Carolina laws are the same:

Engaging a Child for Sexual Performance. S.C. Code § 16-3-810.

(a) It is unlawful for any person to employ, authorize, or induce a child younger than eighteen years of age to engage in a sexual performance. It is unlawful for a parent or legal guardian or custodian of a child younger than eighteen years of age to consent to the participation by the child in a sexual performance.

(b) Any person violating the provisions of subsection (a) of this section is guilty of criminal sexual conduct of the second degree and upon conviction shall be punished as provided in § 16-3-653.

Possession of child pornography.

South Carolina law provides that the mere possession of any undeveloped film, photographic negative, photograph, motion picture, videotape, or other recording of a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct is a criminal act that may charged as a Class I felony. In order to be found guilty of possession of child pornography, the alleged defendant must know that he or she possesses the material, know the character and content of the sexually explicit conduct in the material, and know or reasonably should know that the child engaged in sexually explicit conduct is under 18 years of age.

Exhibition of child pornography.

If a person exhibits or plays a recording of a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct when the person knows that he or she has exhibited or played the recording, and knows or reasonably should have known the nature of the content beforehand, and knows or reasonably should have known that the child engaged in the conduct was under the age of 18 years, they may be charged with a Class I felony.


The relative could be potentially criminally liable for an attempt to violate the above-referenced state laws. However, the fact that the image was not captured and that it would be debatable that the image would be in fact "sexually explicit" removes the likelihood for any actual prosecution.

To sum up, no crime has been committed under a conservative reading of the federal and state laws. Under the most expansive reading of these laws, only a potential attempt crime of the State law could be said to have been committed. Again, this would be a very expansive, over-reaching take on this law.

For sure you and your wife, as the home owners are not guilty of any wrongdoing under these statutes.

I hope this helps and am glad you prevented something bad from happening.

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TexLaw
TexLaw
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Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs