New Jersey Pornography Laws

 Dissemination, publishing, or sharing of intimate or nude images without consent from the person/s depicted is a criminal offense in New Jersey. Meaning, yes. You can go to jail for exposing someone. 

However, there are no laws in the state that prohibit the creation of adult pornography. What can be a crime -is the creation, distribution, viewing, and possession of child pornography. Other genres of porn that may lead to legal trouble include obscene material and voyeur content.

Quick take: What elements of pornography are illegal in New Jersey?


What is illegal to view or download in New Jersey?

State and federal laws prohibit the creation, promotion, and possession of:

  • Child pornography. Any content, including manipulated images or videos that depict or describe minors engaging in sexual conduct constitutes child pornography. The accused qualifies for federal prosecution if he transports, transmits, solicits, or distributes child porn across state or federal borders. Aggravating circumstances that escalate the penalty include the transportation of minors to engage in sexual conduct or contact, the use of violence, and the age of the accused and the minor.


  • Obscenity. Obscene content goes against community standards, appeals to prurient interest, and lacks educational, legislative, scientific, or religious value.
  • Revenge porn. Exposing someone else’s intimate or nude images without consent may lead to criminal and civil prosecution.
  • Voyeurism/invasion of privacy. Peeping or installing a recording device in areas where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists may lead to a lawsuit and criminal prosecution.

Is it illegal to watch porn in public in New Jersey?

New Jersey is one of the states that has outlawed the viewing or display of pornography in public. Section 2C:34-4 “public communication of obscenity” states that, quote:

A person who knowingly publicly communicates obscene material, as defined in section 2C:34-3 or causes or permits it to be publicly communicated on property he owns or leases or operates is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.”

Under the statute, “publicly communicate” means to:

“Means to display, post, exhibit, give away or vocalize material in such a way that its character and content may be readily and distinctly perceived by the public by normal unaided vision or hearing when viewing or hearing it in, on, or from a public street, road, thoroughfare, recreation or shopping center or area, public transportation facility or vehicle used for public transportation.”

Consequently, viewing pornography in your home, vehicle, or other location in a way that third parties can view or hear the content unaided may lead to criminal charges.

Viewing porn in public in New Jersey may also lead to charges, including:

Indecent exposure

NJSA 2C:14-4 “lewdness” states that one is guilty of indecent exposure/lewdness, if he “does any flagrantly lewd and offensive act which he knows or reasonably expects is likely to be observed by other nonconsenting persons who would be affronted or alarmed.”

“Flagrantly lewd and offensive” acts listed under the statute include:

  • The exposure of one’s genitalia to gratify sexual desire.
  • Exposure of self to minors.

New Jersey requirements for sexually oriented business 

Under state law, creating and distributing adult pornography is legal, but there are requirements all business owners in the state should be aware of. Under section 2C:34-7, if you operate a sexually oriented business, you must:

  • Make sure that the business is not located within 1000 feet of an existing sexually oriented business, places where religious persons congregate, or locations where minors congregate. This requirement only applies to new businesses.
  • The business must be surrounded by a buffer -at least 50 feet -could be a fence, physical divider, plantings, and so on. 
  • Disease testing. Intentional transmission of STDs is a felony.

Is child pornography a crime in New Jersey?

Child pornography in all its forms is a crime on both the federal and state level. 

New Jersey statutes section 2C:24-4, prohibits:

  • Creation or production of child pornography. You are guilty if you photograph, participate, or in any way cause a child to create pornography. Related charges include soliciting a minor for sexual conduct, and sex trafficking, if the accused causes a child to travel.
  • Possession. You are guilty if you possess any image, video, or other media that depicts a child engaged in sexual conduct. That includes nude selfies created by a minor.
  • Distribution. Refers to the intentional transmission, distribution, mailing, or transportation of child pornography. You may also face charges if you create or maintain a website or file-sharing program that deals in child pornography.

Note that parents, caregivers, or anyone who permits a minor under their care to create pornography may face child endangerment charges.

Upon conviction for any of the felonies above, the accused must register as a sex offender. Failure to register will lead to additional charges and an extended prison sentence. 

Is lolicon/animated child porn illegal in New Jersey?

Under federal law, lolicon, cartoons, and literature that depict or describe minors engaged in sexual conduct constitute child pornography. If an actual child is used in the production or promotion of such content, the charges escalate, and the accused must register as a sex offender.

The laws also apply to manipulated images and deep fakes. 

What qualifies as obscenity in New Jersey?

Section 2C:34-2 defines obscenity as, quote:

“Obscene material” means any description, narrative account, display, or depiction of sexual activity or anatomical area contained in, or consisting of, a picture or other representation, publication, sound recording, live performance, or film, which by means of posing, composition, format or animated sensual details: (a)Depicts or describes in a patently offensive way, ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, masturbation, excretory functions, or lewd exhibition of the genitals,(b)Lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value, when taken as a whole, and (c)Is a part of a work, which to the average person applying contemporary community standards, has a dominant theme taken as a whole, which appeals to the prurient interest.”

Under New Jersey’s obscenity laws, it is unlawful to:

  • Distribute or display obscene material to minors.
  • Publicly communicate obscenity (see above).
  • Internationally transmit sexually transmitted diseases to another.
  • Sell or make available obscene content to minors. 

Are peeping toms breaking the law in jersey?

Under state law, installing a camera at a location where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists is a crime. Consequently, pointing a camera directly at your neighbor’s bedroom window, or installing one in a bathroom, bedroom, or other location with prurient interest may lead to criminal charges and a civil lawsuit.

Remember section 2c14-9. “Invasion of privacy” states that, quote:

An actor commits a crime of the fourth degree if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would know that another may expose intimate parts or may engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact, he observes another person without that person’s consent and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to be observed.”

Does New Jersey have a revenge porn law?

Revenge porn in New Jersey constitutes an invasion of privacy.

Section C of the statute reads in part:

An actor commits a crime of the third degree if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he discloses any photograph, film, videotape, recording, or any other reproduction of the image of another person whose intimate parts are exposed or who is engaged in an act of sexual penetration or sexual contact, unless that person has consented to such disclosure.”

What to remember:

  • It is an affirmative defense that the accused notified the victim of his intention to disseminate the images before creation (invasion of privacy laws do not apply to public and commercial settings.
  • The maximum fine for revenge porn in New Jersey is $30000. 

What is the penalty for illegal pornography in New Jersey:

  • Public communication of obscenity/watching porn in public. Crime of the fourth degree/felony, punishable by up to 18 months in state prison and a maximum fine of $10000, for a first offense. 
  • Intentional transmission of sexually transmitted disease.  Crime of the third degree/felony, punishable by between 3 to 5 years in prison.
  • Child pornography. The degree of the crime determines the penalty. The minimum penalty for possession of 25 images is 5 years for a first offense and mandatory sex offender registration. Creation or permitting a child to create pornography is a first-degree offense, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $200000 fine. It is worth noting that persons accused of child pornography do not qualify for record expungement, and they must register as sex offenders. 
  • Voyeurism/Revenge porn. Crime of the third degree/felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. The victim may take civil action.
  • Invasion of privacy. Crime of the fourth degree.

Common defenses for the crimes above include:

  • Mistake of fact, all persons depicted are or were above 18 at the time (recommend keeping records of performer age).
  • Entrapment. Law enforcement caused the accused to commit the crime. 
  • If the viewing was accidental; you may argue that you took a reasonable effort to report the content or activity to law enforcement or a person with authority over the minor involved. 

We recommend consulting with a defense attorney immediately.