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Disseminating Matter Harmful to Juveniles

Alleged offenders who provide material to juveniles—unmarried people under 18 years of age—that is classified as being harmful to juveniles or obscene can be charged with disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. Obscene material or matter provided to juveniles less than 13 years of age can make these felony offenses.

Many alleged offenders are accused of this crime after allegedly furnishing, selling or presenting obscene or harmful material to a law enforcement officer posing as a juvenile. Disseminating matter harmful to juveniles is considered a sex offense in Ohio and a conviction not only results in possible imprisonment and fines, but also many other long-term consequences.

Lawyer for Disseminating Matter Harmful to Juveniles in Dayton, OH

If you were arrested for allegedly disseminating matter harmful to juveniles anywhere in Montgomery County, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal counsel. Joslyn Law Firm defends clients charged with sex crimes in communities all over Miami County, Montgomery County, Greene County, and Clark County.

Brian Joslyn is an award-winning criminal defense attorney in Dayton who will work tirelessly to help you achieve the most favorable resolution to your case that results in the fewest possible penalties. He can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (937) 356-3969 to take advantage of a free initial consultation.


Ohio Disseminating Matter Harmful to Juveniles Information Center


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Disseminating Matter Harmful to Juveniles Charges in Montgomery County

A person commits the crime of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles under Ohio Revised Code § 2907.31(A) if he or she, with knowledge of its character or content, recklessly does any of the following:

  • Directly sells, delivers, furnishes, disseminates, provides, exhibits, rents, or presents to a juvenile, a group of juveniles, a law enforcement officer posing as a juvenile, or a group of law enforcement officers posing as juveniles any material or performance that is obscene or harmful to juveniles;
  • Directly offers or agrees to sell, deliver, furnish, disseminate, provide, exhibit, rent, or present to a juvenile, a group of juveniles, a law enforcement officer posing as a juvenile, or a group of law enforcement officers posing as juveniles any material or performance that is obscene or harmful to juveniles; or
  • While in the physical proximity of the juvenile or law enforcement officer posing as a juvenile, allows any juvenile or law enforcement officer posing as a juvenile to review or peruse any material or view any live performance that is harmful to juveniles.

Ohio Revised Code § 2907.31(D) further stipulates that a person directly sells, delivers, furnishes, disseminates, provides, exhibits, rents, or presents or directly offers or agrees to sell, deliver, furnish, disseminate, provide, exhibit, rent, or present material or a performance to a juvenile, a group of juveniles, a law enforcement officer posing as a juvenile, or a group of law enforcement officers posing as juveniles in violation of this section by means of an electronic method of remotely transmitting information (such as email, social media, or text messages containing sexual material, commonly referred to as “sexting”) if the alleged knows or has reason to believe that the person receiving the information is a juvenile or the group of persons receiving the information are juveniles. A person remotely transmitting information by means of a method of mass distribution does not commit an offense if either of the following applies:

  • The alleged offender had inadequate information to know or have reason to believe that a particular recipient of the information or offer was a juvenile; or
  • The method of mass distribution does not provide the alleged offender the ability to prevent a particular recipient from receiving the information.

Ohio Revised Code § 2907.01(E) defines “harmful to juveniles" as meaning that quality of any material or performance describing or representing nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse in any form to which all of the following apply:

  • The material or performance, when considered as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest of juveniles in sex;
  • The material or performance is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for juveniles; and
  • The material or performance, when considered as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, and scientific value for juveniles.

Any material or performance is considered obscene if any of the following apply:

  • Its dominant appeal is to prurient interest;
  • Its dominant tendency is to arouse lust by displaying or depicting sexual activity, masturbation, sexual excitement, or nudity in a way that tends to represent human beings as mere objects of sexual appetite;
  • Its dominant tendency is to arouse lust by displaying or depicting bestiality or extreme or bizarre violence, cruelty, or brutality;
  • Its dominant tendency is to appeal to scatological interest by displaying or depicting human bodily functions of elimination in a way that inspires disgust or revulsion in persons with ordinary sensibilities, without serving any genuine scientific, educational, sociological, moral, or artistic purpose; or
  • It contains a series of displays or descriptions of sexual activity, masturbation, sexual excitement, nudity, bestiality, extreme or bizarre violence, cruelty, or brutality, or human bodily functions of elimination, the cumulative effect of which is a dominant tendency to appeal to prurient or scatological interest, when the appeal to such an interest is primarily for its own sake or for commercial exploitation, rather than primarily for a genuine scientific, educational, sociological, moral, or artistic purpose.

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Dayton Disseminating Matter Harmful to Juveniles Penalties

If the material or performance involved in an alleged offense is harmful to juveniles, the crime is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If the material or performance involved is obscene, the alleged offense becomes a fifth-degree felony punishable by up to 12 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

If the material or performance involved was obscene and the juvenile to whom it was allegedly sold, delivered, furnished, disseminated, provided, exhibited, rented, or presented, the juvenile to whom the offer was made or who was the subject of the agreement, or the juvenile who was allowed to review, peruse, or view it was under 13 years of age, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles is a fourth-degree felony punishable by if up to 18 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Ohio Revised Code § 2907.31(C) provides that it is an affirmative defense to disseminating matter harmful to juveniles charges that the material or performance involved was furnished or presented for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, governmental, judicial, or other proper purpose, by a physician, psychologist, sociologist, scientist, teacher, librarian, clergyman, prosecutor, judge, or other proper person.


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Ohio Disseminating Matter Harmful to Juveniles Resources

State v. Daniels, 2003-Ohio-1545 — A jury convicted Gary Daniels of two counts of gross sexual imposition and two counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles after he allegedly pinched and twisted the nipple of an 11-year-old girl and felt her upper thigh during a visit to the home of Daniels’ niece, and showed two other girls photographs, “many of them pre-pubescent girls, in the nude” during a sleepover at the niece’s house. The First District Court of Appeals affirmed the portion of the trial court’s judgment convicting Daniels of gross sexual imposition and classifying him a sexual predator, but it reversed the convictions for disseminating material harmful to juveniles. The court concluded that the evidence was “insufficient to prove a violation of the felony offense of disseminating material harmful to juveniles” because, “Even though the photographs were repugnant in their graphic display of child nudity, they were not obscene under the statutory definition.”

State v. Kearns, 2016-Ohio-5941 — On March 4, 2015, a court sentenced Sheila Kearns to a period of three years of community control that included 90 days at the Franklin County Corrections Center after she was convicted of four counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles for showing the movie “The ABCs of Death” to five Spanish language classes while serving as a permanent substitute teacher. The Tenth District Court of Appeals overruled Kearns’s six assignments and affirmed the judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, but Judge Gary Tyack dissented, writing that he would sustain all six assignments of error. “In review, the trial of this case was riddled by a lack of evidence and serious mistakes,” Tyack wrote.


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Joslyn Law Firm | Dayton Disseminating Matter Harmful to Juveniles Defense Attorney

Were you arrested in the Miami Valley area for allegedly disseminating matter harmful to juveniles? Do not say anything to authorities until you have contacted Joslyn Law Firm.

Dayton criminal defense lawyer Brian Joslyn represents individuals in communities throughout Montgomery County, including Fairborn, Huber Heights, Kettering, Piqua, Springfield, Troy, Beavercreek, Dayton, and many others. Call (937) 356-3969 or complete an online contact form to have our attorney review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free, confidential consultation.


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