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What Does it Mean to Be Charged with Disseminating Obscenity?

Disseminating obscenity is a serious charge, and it may also be charged with other serious criminal charges. Due to the nature of this charge and the stigma associated with any sex crimes you should hire an experienced Boston Sex Crimes attorney as soon as you learn that you are being charged with disseminating obscenity. 

To understand what it means to be charged with disseminating obscenity you need to first understand what is defined as obscenity. The definition of obscenity has had a long and varied history in US Courts. The enforcement of these laws are governed by the First Amendment which guarantees the right to freedom of expression. This is the reason why people can distribute and consume most pornography and face no legal consequences. Obscenity usually refers to child pornography or material defined as obscene. Since pornography that adults consume is not suitable for children, obscenity can also mean material that is consumed by children. Being charged with disseminating obscenity to minors is a very serious charge (see recent blog on enticing a minor ). 

To prove that certain material constitutes obscenity, all the three following conditions have to be met:

(1) that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;

(2) that the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law;

and (3) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

To prove the charge of disseminating obscenity in Massachusetts, the prosecution also has to prove that the defendant disseminated the material or possessed the material with intent to disseminate it, and that they knew the material was obscene. 

The penalties for disseminating obscenity are extremely heavy in Massachusetts. For a first offense, it can be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for up to 5 years and up to two and a half years  in the house of corrections or a fine of up to 10,000. 

If the defendant was an educational institution, museum or library or was acting in the course of their employment this may be a defense.

While disseminating obscenity is a charge with deep stigma attached to it, there are many ways to defend this charge and find a way to return to life without the severe consequences that can result from these charges. If you have been accused of disseminating obscenity, don’t delay. You should contact an experienced Boston Sex Crimes Attorney for Disseminating Obscenity immediately. This is an extremely serious charge and you need extremely skilled assistance to fight it. At Dhar Law, LLP, our criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience defending serious criminal cases in state and federal court. We believe in the right to a fair trial and bring the full resources of our experience and knowledge to work for you. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch so we can discuss your case. 


Have you or a family member been charged or arrested? It’s important not to make mistakes early on in your case. Download our PDF on the top 3 things to do to help your defense or if you have been arrested by the State Police or FBI or you are the subject of an FBI Arrest Warrant.

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Heading up the firm, Vikas Dhar is widely recognized as a leader in the New England legal community. An accomplished business litigator and a “Top 40 Under 40” criminal defense attorney, he has also been honored as a New England Super Lawyer/Rising Star in the area of White-Collar Criminal Defense for each of the past six years by Boston Magazine.

I have the power and the skill to be able to save people from themselves. I can be your guide during the darkness. I can hold your hand and navigate you out of the darkness into the light.

— Vikas Dhar
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