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Sentencing for producing indecent images

What is the sentence for producing indecent images in 2024?

police interview

There are a number of actions taken that could result in somebody being accused of ‘producing indecent images’ such as:

  • Downloading an Indecent Image on to a device such as a PC, tablet or mobile phone
  • Accessing a website where Indecent Images appear as ‘pop-ups’
  • Opening an email attachment which contains an Indecent Image

The law is driven under section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978.

Our clients often tell us, ‘but I didn’t make any images’ with a visible level of confusion. In the majority of cases, producing an Indecent Image does NOT mean you have taken a photograph yourself or recorded the video yourself. In such cases, the charge would more commonly be Production of Indecent Images. The offence of producing indecent images or making Indecent Images was predominantly created to cover the act of downloading an indecent image, i.e. reproducing it.

To help you to understand what the outcome might be as a result of being convicted of the producing indecent images offence, we’ve detailed the sentencing guidelines.  Please note that a competent and experienced solicitor may be able to get a prison sentence reduced or even avoid it entirely.

What happens in a producing indecent images Investigation?

You’ll typically discover that you’re under investigation for producing indecent images offences when you get a knock on the door from the police. The police may invite you to the police station for an interview or what they will term as a ‘chat’. You have a right to consult a lawyer and the right to attend the meeting with someone else.

When a producing indecent images investigation takes place, it can be a very worrying time. You may worry about your reputation, your job, that you won’t be able to cover your bills or have enough food for your family to eat. Everything feels very unstable and uncertain.

You may have been falsely accused of producing indecent images 

Please also note that in many cases, people are wrongly accused of producing indecent images offences. If you feel this is you, there are many reasons why you may have had false claims made about you. In some cases, it’s malicious, and in others, it could be somebody who is seeking a financial payment.  You may even have lent your computer to somebody, and they downloaded, produced or distributed the indecent images using your equipment.

When it comes to sentencing guidelines, sentencing is given to those who are found guilty of:

  1. Having custody or control of indecent images of a person who is below the age of 18 years
  2. The suspect is aware and knows that they have the image in their possession

There are three levels of seriousness for indecent images, which are:

Category A – images depicting penetrative sexual activity, sexual activity with an animal or sadism.

Category B – images depicting non-penetrative sexual activity.

Category C – indecent images outside of categories A or B.

Where there is more than one image, the prosecution will categorise the photos into the above framework with this being used by the court with regards to sentencing.

The court will also consider what the images have been used for and how. Were they used for possession, distribution or production? On this page, we will be exploring the sentencing for production. You may find sentencing for other offences by heading over to our sentencing index.

What is the average sentence for producing indecent images offences?

Depending on what you are convicted of, your name may be added to the Sexual Offenders Register. Prison sentences range from 3 months to life imprisonment.

How does a court decide on the seriousness of the producing of indecent images offence for sentencing purposes?

The information that judges are given with regards to sentencing are only guidelines, and each case will be looked at individually. One of the factors judges consider in every case of this nature is the defendant’s level of genuine remorse.

The following factors are considered when the court decides which sentence to give. They will look at:

  • Your previous conviction
  • The age and level of vulnerability of the depicted child
  • Whether the child has suffered any discernible pain or distress
  • The period over which the images were made
  • How many images were made?
  • Where the images were placed and whether there is the potential for a high volume of viewers
  • Whether the image collection included any moving images
  • Were there attempts made by the suspect to dispose or conceal the images?
  • Was trust abused?
  • Is the child known to the offender?
  • Is the suspect actively involved in a network or process that pays for the creation or sharing of indecent images?
  • Is there commercial motivation behind the exploitation?
  • Has there been deliberate or systematic searching for images of young children, familial abuse or category A images?
  • Is there a large number of children involved?
  • Was the child in an image drugged or intoxicated?

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the producing of indecent images sentence?

Certain aspects of a case are known as the mitigating aspects which can influence the sentence that a judge gives. In the making of indecent images cases, they may include:

  • Whether the defendant is disabled or mentally ill
  • The age of the defendant, i.e. if they are particularly young their age may affect their level of responsibility
  • If there are previous, relevant or recent convictions
  • Suspect shows a considerable level of genuine remorse
  • A previous good character with exemplary conduct
  • If there is a learning disability or mental disorder linked to this offence
  • There have been demonstrative steps made to address this behaviour

Is it possible to reduce a sentence for producing indecent images with a guilty plea?

In recent years, several changes have been made to the sentencing system in the UK to save the court time and cost and to protect witnesses from the stress of needlessly going through a trial. For offenders aged 18 and over, pleading guilty early on in a case can reduce a sentence by as much as one third (maximum). The later the plea is entered, the smaller the reduction.

‘Early on’ refers to ‘the first stage of the proceedings’ and means anytime up to and including the first hearing at the Magistrates Court or Crown Court for indictable offences.

If a plea is entered 14 days after the first hearing, for example, the maximum level of reduction is just 20% or one-fifth of the sentence. For indictable offences, the limit for a guilty plea to be made is within 28 days after the prosecutor has stated compliance with section 3 of CPIA 1996 and serving disclosure; although the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Judge who has the discretion to apply whatever credit is deemed appropriate.

After these times there is a sliding scale of credit applied. This goes down to one-tenth on the first day of the trial and to zero if entered during the course of the trial. In theory, the ten per cent could be given if the plea is issued after the opening speeches on the first day, but prior to any witness evidence being heard.

If the accused does not want to plead guilty, then it’s essential for the solicitor to regularly inform the court throughout the trial of the reasons why the client’s plea is not guilty.

 What are some of the other consequences of the producing indecent images offence?

Ancillary Orders

A court can also make ancillary orders on a defendant if they are found guilty and convicted of an offence. These are extra elements that can be added to a sentence and include additional restrictions or requirements that affect a dependent’s finances, property or activity.

The range of ancillary orders for making indecent image convictions include the following:

Deprivation and Forfeiture

Prosecutors typically request that indecent images of children are forfeited, even if the case is dropped. The police can legally forfeit data without needing to look at every file in question on a hard drive if they have reasonable grounds to believe that such images are contained.

Public Interest and Out of Court Disposals

Usually, a prosecution will take place unless there are public interest factors that outweigh those in favour.

In such cases, the police may administer a caution in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service. Each case is decided upon on its individual facts and circumstances.

In some cases, a conditional caution may be given, although it’s less likely. The starting point on sentencing guidelines is a high-level community order, whereas the starting point on a conditional caution is at a medium level or below.

The role of the prosecutors is to consider whether it’s in the public interest to prosecute or use an out of court disposal when those involved are youth offenders. This situation is likely when a child shares images of themselves, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.

Engaging a sexual offences solicitor who has deep experience and knowledge of this area of the law, means you will have access to information on the typical sentencing for the offence with which you may have been charged.

In addition, the court may demand payment of the following if the accused is convicted:

Payment of costs applied for by the prosecutors

Although the police meet some of the costs involved in the prosecution, the costs of investigation are typically sought from the convicted. These may include the costs of:

  • The work done in obtaining sufficient evidence for prosecution either at the initial stage or later at the request of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
  • Seeking medical or expert evidence as part of the investigation, (where a witness is required to attend Court, the cost of the attendance falls on the CPS).
  • Re-interviewing witnesses
  • The entire costs of the prosecutor, including fees for the use of external Barristers used by the CPS, can be recovered from the defendant, subject to means. At the end of the case, the prosecutor under The Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 will request the Judge to order a sum to be paid for the costs incurred by the prosecutor in bringing the prosecution.

Victims surcharges

The term victims’ surcharges can be explained as paying compensation to a fund for victims and can range between £20 to £170 depending on what sentence you were given at conviction.

How sentences can be added to national information databases

There are several national databases that hold information about individuals and any allegations made about them, their criminal and court records. These include the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) which was previously known as the CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) and the Police National Computer (PNC).  Depending on what happened, whether the accused is convicted and what sentence was issued, the accused may be added to one or all these databases. Their purpose is to provide information to potential employers and to regulate the ability to take part in certain activities.

If your case progresses to court and you are convicted of producing indecent images, your conviction will be noted on your CRB / police record. The period of the endorsement will depend on the nature and length of your sentence.

Below are details on how long you will be listed as holding a criminal record if convicted. This is something very serious to consider when it comes to future employment. The term ‘spent’ refers to when your name can be removed from the databases.

Rehabilitation Period
(the time it takes for the sentence to become ‘spent’)
Sentence Adult (aged 18+) at time of conviction Young person (aged under 18) at time of conviction
Prison sentences of more than 4 years Sentence is never spent Sentence is never spent
Prison sentences of more than 2.5 years (30 months) but less than 4 years Sentence length 7 years Sentence length 3.5 years
Prison sentences of more than 6 months but less than 2.5 years (30 months) Sentence length +4 years Sentence length +2 years
Prison sentences of less than 6 months Sentence length + 2 years Sentence length +18 months
Conditional Discharge Length of order Length of order
Absolute Discharge None None
Conditional Caution 3 months 3 months
Simple Caution / Youth Caution None – immediately ‘spent’ None – immediately ‘spent’
Other Including Compensation Order, Supervision Order, Bind Over, Hospital Order Length of the order / once compensation is paid Length of the order / once compensation is paid

In cases of this nature, sentencing can be influenced by the lawyer. The court can be convinced by using arguments such as there will be damage to a business, loss of job or loss of revenue to an employer for the absence of the employee. If there is a spouse disability or dependency, then the lawyer should put this forward to influence the outcome more positively. It’s important to stress the fact that the accused can be rehabilitated and attend a sex offender treatment programme as an alternative to a short or moderate-term custodial sentence.

Below are notification periods for the convicted to be included in the Violent and Sex Offender Register (ViSOR).

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

If you are accused of the offence of producing indecent images, our specialist team of Criminal Solicitors can provide you with in-depth advice in a clear and concise manner. Our extensive understanding of the Protection of Children Act puts us head and shoulders above the rest when representing those who are accused of offences within the realm of this complex area of law. Our Criminal Solicitors will apply their knowledge, skill and expertise in finding the best strategy and solutions to defend your case. We work alongside our Cybercrime Lawyers to challenge technological issues and contest the prosecution’s allegations.

Our Indecent Images specialists are Criminal Solicitors that provide representation throughout police interviews and at all stages of the Court process. As with any offence, the earlier our team are involved in the process, the higher the likelihood of success.

We have access to the United Kingdom’s leading forensic experts. We can instruct these experts to re-analyse your devices which have been seized by the police. This meticulous analysis frequently uncovers inconsistencies in the digital evidence presented by the prosecution and ensures all avenues of your defence is explored.

Our team truly work with the mindset that you are innocent until proven guilty. We will listen to your instructions intently and advise you on the best course of action from the police station stage and throughout the Court process. Once instructed by you, we will put pressure on the investigators to ensure they fulfil their duties of investigating expeditiously. The earlier in the process we are instructed, the more effective our representation will be.

Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?

If you’d like to have a no-obligation chat with us before you instruct us to take your case, then call us today.

In addition to giving you a free consultation, we can also represent you at the police station if you’ve been arrested. We can look at securing your legal aid.

Please Contact Us and ask to speak to our producing indecent images lawyers and sexual offences solicitors to arrange a meeting in person, online or by telephone. If you prefer, you can WhatsApp us from the link you will find at the bottom banner if you open this page on your mobile phone device.

Get in touch with us now for producing indecent images legal help.


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