Facing the possibility of life in prison, a Tulsa man was sentenced last week after pleading guilty to five counts of aggravated possession of child pornography. In what is likely the result of a plea agreement, Tulsa County District Judge William Kellough sentenced Howard David Shelton, 52, to five concurrent 15-year sentences with three years suspended. Rather than spending his life behind bars, Shelton is ordered to 12 years in prison.
Shelton has prior convictions for drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Shelton's arrest came after online sting investigators traced a child pornography video to the IP address of a Tulsa business. Investigators determined that Shelton, an employee, was staying at a room in the business and accessed child pornography on file-sharing sites using the company's internet access in the early morning hours.
Aggravated possession of child pornography is defined by Oklahoma law as the possession of 100 or more images of child pornography:
"Any person who, with knowledge of its contents, possesses one hundred (100) or more separate materials depicting child pornography shall be, upon conviction, guilty of aggravated possession of child pornography. The violator shall be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term not exceeding life imprisonment and by a fine in an amount not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00). The violator, upon conviction, shall be required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offenders Registration Act." (21 O.S. 1040.12a)
Both separate images and multiple copies of the same image count toward the total number of images necessary to elevate a charge from possession of child pornography to aggravated possession of child pornography.
Anyone convicted of aggravated possession of child pornography becomes a Level I sex offender and is required to register as an Oklahoma sex offender for 15 years. Sex offender registration carries numerous restrictions after one is released from custody, and in addition to the stigma of public notification of one's crime or crimes on the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry, a sex offender is also prohibited from obtaining certain jobs, going certain places, and even living within a specified distance of schools and childcare facilities. These residency restrictions make up to 80 percent of Oklahoma City off-limits for housing for sex offenders.
Oklahoma sex offender laws are constantly changing, and this can make it difficult for people subject to the Sex Offenders Registration Act to know what is expected of them and to understand whether or not any new changes to the law violate their rights. Learn more about Oklahoma sex offender registration here, or contact your attorney for more information.