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Md. delegates pass child porn bill

Legislation increases penalties for possessing material

Legislation increases penalties for possessing material

February 29, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

A bill to increase the penalties for possessing child pornography in Maryland passed the House of Delegates this week, but in a weaker form than first proposed.

Del. Susan K. McComas, R-Harford, and Del. Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery, had proposed making the crime a felony instead of a misdemeanor for a first offense.

The bill was amended to remove that provision and instead make it a felony only for a repeat offense.

As passed, the bill would increase the maximum prison sentence for a first offense to five years from two years. The maximum for subsequent offenses would increase to 10 years from five years.

By a 136-0 vote Thursday, the House gave final approval to the bill, which will be forwarded to the Senate.

The bill already was in the works before news became public that police had searched the Halfway home of Robert A. McKee for possible child pornography. McKee, who resigned from his House seat, has not been charged.

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A more comprehensive child pornography bill proposed by McComas died in the House Judiciary Committee.

It included mandatory minimum sentences, higher fines and stricter definitions of child pornography. It also would have made possession of child pornography a felony on first offense.

McComas said elements of the comprehensive bill were added to the other bill.

"Probably, we did better than usual," she said Friday in a phone interview.

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