As a result of the General Assembly’s actions this year, there is now a harsher penalty for soliciting a photograph of a child being molested than for actually molesting a child.
See HB 933 passed this year, G.S. 14-190.17 (Second degree sexual exploitation of a child), G.S. 14-109.13(5) (Definitions for certain offenses concerning minors, Sexual activity), and G.S. 14-202.1 (Taking indecent liberties with children).
Harshest sentence possible:
Soliciting the photo: 7 years, 5 months. Supervised for 5 years after release from prison.
Molesting a child: 4 years, 11 months. No post-release supervision.
Lightest sentence possible:
Soliciting the photo: Probation with sanctions or 15 months in prison. If prison, supervised for 5 years after release.
Molesting a child: Probation with sanctions or 10 months in prison. No post-release supervision.
HB 933 increased the penalty for Second degree sexual exploitation of a child from a Class F to a Class E felony, moving the crime into what is considered the more serious or violent felonies. In addition to a longer prison sentence, a felon convicted of a sex-related Class E offense is supervised for 5 years in the community after release from prison. (About half of all Class E and half of all Class F felons serve time in prison.)
Other than for offenses involving child pornography, the General Assembly did not change the penalties for child molestation. Child molestation is still punished under Taking Indecent Liberties with Children, a Class F felony. For a first-time offender, the maximum prison sentence with aggravating factors is two years. The judge also has the option of imposing a non-prison sentence such as probation with additional sanctions. Unlike a Class E conviction, an offender sent to prison for a Class F felony is not supervised after release.
Both crimes still require registration as a sex offender.