Pandering Obscenity

Ohio Revised Code § 2907.01(F) establishes that when considered as a whole, and judged with reference to ordinary adults or, if it is designed for sexual deviates or other especially susceptible group, judged with reference to that group, any material or performance is "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;


  • 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.


Pandering obscenity is a crime in Ohio that people are charged with then they promote or produce obscene material, and pandering obscenity involving a minor is a separate criminal offense that carries even greater penalties. Both crimes are felony offenses, so convictions can involve consequences that extend well beyond any prison term.

Pandering Obscenity Defense Attorneys in Columbus, OH | Sabol | Mallory

Were you arrested for an alleged pandering obscenity offense in the greater Columbus area? Do not say anything to authorities until you have legal representation.


Sabol | Mallory has more than 20 years of combined experience defending people against all kinds of criminal charges. We can answer all of your legal questions when you call (614) 300-5088 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.

Ohio Pandering Obscenity Penalties

Under Ohio Revised Code § 2907.32, a person commits a pandering obscenity offense if they, with knowledge of the character of the material or performance involved, do any of the following:


  • Create, reproduce, or publish any obscene material, when the offender knows that the material is to be used for commercial exploitation or will be publicly disseminated or displayed, or when the offender is reckless in that regard;


  • Promote or advertise for sale, delivery, or dissemination; sell, deliver, publicly disseminate, publicly display, exhibit, present, rent, or provide; or offer or agree to sell, deliver, publicly disseminate, publicly display, exhibit, present, rent, or provide, any obscene material;


  • Create, direct, or produce an obscene performance, when the offender knows that it is to be used for commercial exploitation or will be publicly presented, or when the offender is reckless in that regard;


  • Advertise or promote an obscene performance for presentation, or present or participate in presenting an obscene performance, when the performance is presented publicly, or when admission is charged;


  • Buy, procure, possess, or control any obscene material with purpose to promote or advertise for sale, delivery, or dissemination; sell, deliver, publicly disseminate, publicly display, exhibit, present, rent, or provide; or offer or agree to sell, deliver, publicly disseminate, publicly display, exhibit, present, rent, or provide, any obscene material or create, direct, or produce an obscene performance, when the offender knows that it is to be used for commercial exploitation or will be publicly presented, or when the offender is reckless in that regard.


Pandering obscenity is a fifth-degree felony punishable by six to 12 months in prison and/or fine of up to $2,500. If a person has been previously convicted of pandering obscenity, any subsequent conviction is a fourth-degree felony punishable by six to 18 months in prison and/or fine of up to $5,000.

Pandering Obscenity Involving a Minor Penalties in Ohio

Ohio Revised Code § 2907.321 establishes that a person commits pandering obscenity involving a minor if they, with knowledge of the character of the material or performance involved, do any of the following:


  • Create, reproduce, or publish any obscene material that has a minor as one of its participants or portrayed observers;


  • Promote or advertise for sale or dissemination; sell, deliver, disseminate, display, exhibit, present, rent, or provide; or offer or agree to sell, deliver, disseminate, display, exhibit, present, rent, or provide, any obscene material that has a minor as one of its participants or portrayed observers;


  • Create, direct, or produce an obscene performance that has a minor as one of its participants;


  • Advertise or promote for presentation, present, or participate in presenting an obscene performance that has a minor as one of its participants;


  • Bring or cause to be brought into this state any obscene material that has a minor as one of its participants or portrayed observers.


Pandering obscenity involving a minor involving any of the actions listed above is a second-degree felony punishable by two to eight years in prison and/or fine of up to $15,000. If a person commits a violation by buying, procuring, possessing, or controlling any obscene material that has a minor as one of its participants, the offense is a fourth-degree felony punishable by six to 18 months in prison and/or fine of up to $5,000. If a person has been previously convicted of pandering obscenity involving a minor, any conviction involving a violation by buying, procuring, possessing, or controlling any obscene material that has a minor as one of its participants is a third-degree felony punishable by nine months to five years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000.

Columbus, OH Pandering Obscenity Resources

State ex rel. Flynt v. Dinkelacker, 156 Ohio App.3d 595, 2004-Ohio-1695 — Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt was convicted in February 1977 of pandering obscenity and engaging in organized crime for selling material that was judged to be obscene, but the sentence was later overturned. Larry Flynt and his brother, Jimmy Flynt, were indicted on 15 charges of pandering obscenity in March 1998, and they agreed to stop selling sexually explicit videos, pay a $10,000 fine, and plead guilty to two counts of pandering obscenity. While a prosecutor tried to reinstate the 15 felony charges in June 2003 after Flynt allegedly began selling videos from a different store in Cincinnati, but the First District Court of Appeals granted the Flynts’ writ of prohibition preventing a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge from proceeding in the state’s prosecution of the brothers on the previously dismissed indictment.


State v. Dalton, Nos. 01AP-1313, 02AP-117 — Brian Dalton pleaded guilty in 1998 to five counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor and five counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor. Dalton was granted judicial release and placed on probation for three years after serving almost four months of his prison term, but he was arrested for his lack of participation in a sex-offender-treatment program. Dalton’s mother informed his probation officer that she was concerned about some items she had found in his apartment, and one of the items that Dalton’s probation officer collected was a personal journal that depicted Dalton’s personal fantasies of the violent torture and rape of a number of fictitious minor children. Dalton was charged with two counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor, based solely on the content of his personal journal. He entered a guilty plea to one count in exchange for the dismissal of the other count. After the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas denied Dalton’s motion to vacate his guilty plea, the Tenth District Court of Appeals reversed that judgment, vacated the court’s 2001 judgment, and remanded the case to the trial court.


Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973) — “The Miller Test” is also known as the “three prong obscenity test,” and its name is derived from this landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court. Marvin Miller was the owner and operator of a California mail-order business convicted of violating a state law prohibiting the distribution of obscene material after conducting a mass mailing campaign to advertise the sale of "adult" material, and the Supreme Court held that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment and a “work may be subject to state regulation where that work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex; portrays, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and, taken as a whole, does not have serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” The Court established the following three criteria for the test of what constitutes obscenity: “(a) whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, Roth, supra, at 354 U. S. 489, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

Contact a Columbus Pandering Obscenity Defense Lawyer Today

If you were arrested for pandering obscenity in Columbus or a surrounding community in Franklin County, make sure that you retain legal counsel as soon as possible. You will be best served by working with an experienced criminal defense attorney.


Sabol | Mallory can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed. Call (614) 300-5088 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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