In the Interest of C.S.

Juvenile Law Center, along with co-counsel, Andrea Olsovsky, Lehigh County Public Defender, filed a brief in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on behalf of C.S., a teen charged under felony child pornography for posting an intimate video of two classmates on Facebook.

This case was appealed directly to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania by the Commonwealth after the Lehigh County Juvenile Court declared 18 Pa.C.S. § 6312 (Sexual Abuse of Children) unconstitutional as applied to C.S., because she would have no way of knowing that her conduct could result in child pornography charges. On appeal, the Commonwealth argued that the Juvenile Court’s finding was improper because the judge raised the issue of the statute’s constitutionality on his own and that the statute clearly forbids the conduct in which C.S. engaged.

Juvenile Law Center’s brief argued that the Juvenile Court addressed arguments raised by C.S. in making the determination that the statute was unconstitutional; and that even if it raised the issues sua sponte, the appellate court must nonetheless review the matter before it. In addition, the brief argued that the child pornography statute is unconstitutional as applied to C.S. because the intent of the legislation is to protect exploited victims of abuse; in the instant case, there were no exploited victims. Finally, the brief argued that the Juvenile Court’s holding should be affirmed because the statute fails to give adequate notice of the conduct that can be charged and that vagueness can lead to arbitrary prosecution.

On January 23, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its opinion, which reversed the juvenile court's holding that the statute was unconstitutional, reinstated C.S.'s delinquency petition, and remanded the case back to the trial court.