Sexual Exploitation of a Minor


The state of Tennessee defines the sexual exploitation of a minor as any effort to engage in the commercial exploitation of a minor in sexually explicit ways and methods. While child pornography serves as the best-known example of sexual exploitation of a minor, child prostitution, child sex trafficking, or any actions that involve forced sexual activity may also qualify.

exploitation of minor arrest

Attempting to claim ignorance of a minor’s age will also not qualify as a tenable legal defensive argument. As the age of consent in Tennessee currently stands at 18 years, any sexual activity involving a minor and a legal adult falls under the sexual offense category since a minor cannot legally consent to such activities based on their age.

TENNESSEE LAW 39-17-1004

Under Tennessee law, this statute addresses the issue of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor under the following terms: 

Possession and Promotion

Under no circumstances can anyone promote, transport, sell, purchase, or otherwise possess material that includes a minor engaging in sexual activity, either real or simulated in a way that can be deemed offensive. 

Separate Charges

Anyone charged with possession and promotion of material involving the sexual exploitation of a minor can be charged with separate counts for each individual violation. In other words, every single image, film, or photograph found in the possession of the accused can be treated as a separate charge. If the accused has 24 individual materials, they can be hit with 24 charges. Any amount greater than 25 can be charged as a single count and elevate the offense class to a Class B felony. 

Prosecution Considerations

When brought to trial, the prosecution may consider a variety of factors when examining the facts of the case, including but not limited to:

• Age and/or physical development of the individual depicted in the evidence.

• The exact reason the accused had the material in their possession (in other words, if they were promoting, selling, distributing, buying, or a combination of specific uses).

• Specific expert testimony, including but not limited to medical experts, forensic analysis, and child care safety advocates.


Any violations of this statute have currently been classified as a Class C felony in the state of Tennessee. However, in the event the number of violations exceeds 25 counts, the felony classification can be elevated to a Class B felony with increased severity of the penalties. 

Legal Defenses

Because sexual exploitation of minor poses such severe punishments, being falsely accused of the crime can be devastating. A conviction, in addition to being a felony, also bring long term social ostracization that can affect personal relationships,  including family and marriage.

David Clarke and the Clarke Law Firm will put together a strategic defense that will challenge the prosecution’s evidence, assumptions, and the legality of their search and seizure. 

Let Us Help

If you are accused of the sexual exploitation of a minor, it’s vital to have the experience and skill of David Clarke on your side to advise and guide you through the legal process. As a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer is committed to hearing your side of the story and protecting your rights, reputation, and future. To find out more about how we can help, contact The Clarke Law Firm today.