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Obscenity

Criminal charges which involve obscenity can be extremely embarrassing for the accused. By obtaining an experienced and respected Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer, an accused person may be able to clear his or her name, if the prosecution’s evidence can be rebutted properly.

What does it mean to be “Obscene?”

Obscenity is defined by the Commonwealth of Virginia by statute.  If you are familiar with Supreme Court cases defining the term, then you already have an understanding of the gist of the statute. (It is almost identical to the United States Supreme Court cases which define the term).  Your Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer may acquaint you with an understanding of the law during a quick initial consultation.

In essence, the portions of Virginia Law that deal with obscenity revolve around conduct that is deemed to be an obscene performance, item, or exhibition. The easiest way to understand the definition is to think of it as containing three parts: First, the theme of the material, taken as a whole, appeals to a “prurient” interest in sexual (or excretory) issues. Second, the material, performance, exhibition, or item goes beyond customary limits in its depiction or representation. Finally, when taken as a whole, there is no real scientific, political, or artistic value.

One significant case out of Virginia held that the mere portrayal of nudity by itself is NEVER enough evidence to give rise to a finding of obscenity.

What Items May be Obscene?

Your Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer can assess the facts of your case and inform you of how the law may apply. In general, obscene items are simply items that meet the three-part definition explained above.

In Virginia, it is a crime to knowingly prepare, manufacture, produce, or reproduce an obscene item for sale. It is also a crime to deal or distribute such items or to possess such items with the intent to sell, loan, rent, transport, or distribute.

The private possession of obscene items is protected by the United States Constitution.  Your Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer can ensure that your constitutional protections remain intact.

Our next article will detail how exhibitions and performances may be deemed obscene, as well as the relative punishments associated with obscenity in its various forms.

1. Va. Code § 18.2 – 372.

2. Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 93 S. Ct. 2607

3. See Price v. Com., 214 Va. 490, 492, 201 S.E.2d 798, 799 (1974).

4. House v. Com., 210 Va. 121, 127, 169 S.E.2d 572, 577 (1969).

5. See Va. Code Ann. §§ 18.2-373, 374.

6. Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557, 89 S. Ct. 1243, 22 L. Ed. 2d 542 (1969).