Displaying Matter Harmful to Juveniles

Businesses in Ohio that sell pornography or other obscene material must make sure that such material cannot be viewed by minors. Failure to keep material that is deemed “harmful to juveniles” behind a counter or in protective wrapping can lead to a business owner facing criminal charges.

Displaying matter harmful to juveniles is technically a misdemeanor offense, but it is important to understand that every day an alleged offender is in supposed violation of state law is treated as a separate offense. Alleged offenders in these cases may be accused of displaying pornographic or obscene material when there was technically no actual wrongdoing.

Lawyer for Displaying Matter Harmful to Juveniles Crimes in Columbus, OH

Were you recently arrested in Central Ohio for allegedly displaying matter harmful to juveniles? You should not make any kind of statement to authorities until you have legal counsel. Contact Joslyn Law Firm right away.

Columbus criminal defense attorney Brian Joslyn represents clients accused of sex crimes in and around Franklin County, including Worthington, Bexley, Dublin, Grove City, Gahanna, Upper Arlington, Westerville, Reynoldsburg, Hilliard, Whitehall, and several surrounding areas. Call (614) 444-1900 today to receive a complete review of your case during a free, confidential consultation.


Overview of Displaying Matter Harmful to Juveniles in Ohio


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Displaying Matter Harmful to Juveniles Charges in Franklin County

Under Ohio Revised Code § 2907.311, a person commits displaying matter harmful to juveniles if—having custody, control, or supervision of a commercial establishment and with knowledge of the character or content of the material involved—he or she displays at the establishment any material that is harmful to juveniles and that is open to view by juveniles as part of the invited general public.

The term “material” is defined under Ohio Revised Code § 2907.01(J) as including any of the following:

  • Book;
  • Magazine;
  • Newspaper;
  • Pamphlet;
  • Poster;
  • Print;
  • Picture;
  • Figure;
  • Image;
  • Description;
  • Motion picture film;
  • Phonographic record;
  • Tape; or
  • Any other tangible thing capable of arousing interest through sight, sound, or touch and includes an image or text appearing on a computer monitor, television screen, liquid crystal display, or similar display device or an image or text recorded on a computer hard disk, computer floppy disk, compact disk, magnetic tape, or similar data storage device.

Ohio Revised Code § 2907.01(E) defines the phrase "harmful to juveniles" as meaning “that quality of any material or performance describing or representing nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic 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.

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Displaying Matter Harmful to Juveniles Penalties in Columbus

A violation of Ohio Revised Code § 2907.311 is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Again, every day that an alleged offender is in violation of state law is treated as a separate offense.

Business owners cannot be charged with this crime if:

  • The material in question was displayed by being placed behind "blinder racks" or similar devices that cover at least the lower two-thirds of the material;
  • The material in question was wrapped or placed behind the counter; or
  • The material in question otherwise was covered or located so that the portion that is harmful to juveniles was not open to the view of juveniles.

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Ohio Resources for Displaying Matter Harmful to Juveniles Offenses

Redrup v. New York, 386 US 767 — In 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States issued this decision involving three cases arising from a recurring conflict—“the conflict between asserted state power to suppress the distribution of books and magazines through criminal or civil proceedings, and the guarantees of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.” In Redrup, the alleged offender was a clerk at a New York City newsstand who sold two allegedly obscene paperback books on a rack to a plainclothes patrolman who had asked for them by name. The Court concluded “that the distribution of the publications in each of these cases is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments from governmental suppression,” writing:

In none of the cases was there a claim that the statute in question reflected a specific and limited state concern for juveniles. See Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U. S. 158; cf. Butler v. Michigan, 352 U. S. 380. In none was there any suggestion of an assault upon individual privacy by publication in a manner so obtrusive as to make it impossible for an unwilling individual to avoid exposure to it. Cf. Breard v. Alexandria,341 U. S. 622; Public Utilities Comm'n v. Pollak, 343 U. S. 451. And in none was there evidence of the sort of "pandering" which the Court found significant in Ginzburg v. United States, 383 U. S. 463.

Major Supermarket Chains Are Covering Up Cosmo Because It’s “Pornographic” — After the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) successfully convinced the drugstore chain Rite Aid and Delhaize America (the owner of the Hannaford supermarket chain and Food Lion grocery stores) to place the magazine Cosmopolitan behind blinders in their stores. The NCSE claimed that Cosmopolitan’s “sexually provocative headlines and models” on its covers were not appropriate for all ages, and the organization pushed for the stores to forbid sale to anyone under 18 years of age or stop selling the magazine entirely.


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Joslyn Law Firm | Columbus Displaying Matter Harmful to Juveniles Lawyer

If you were arrested for allegedly displaying matter harmful to juveniles in Central Ohio, it is in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation. Joslyn Law Firm defends clients throughout Franklin County, Union County, Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County, and Fairfield County.

Brian Joslyn is a skilled criminal defense attorney in Columbus who has been ranked one of the 10 best criminal defense lawyers in Ohio by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys and nominated as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer in the country by the National Trial Lawyers Association. He will provide a full evaluation of your case when you call (614) 444-1900 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.


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