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What are Pseudo Photos & Images?

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Most people are well aware that possessing, distributing and producing indecent images of children is illegal and can carry significant penalties for anyone who is found guilty of such an offence.

However, many people do not also realise that the law on indecent images in the UK also applies to ‘pseudo photos’.

Here, we discuss what pseudo photos and images are, what the potential consequences of having an involvement with pseudo photos can be and what the sentencing guidelines look like for anyone who is convicted of such an offence might be.

What is meant by pseudo photos or images?

So, what are pseudo images? A pseudo photo is an image which has been made by computer-graphics software or otherwise and has the appearance of a photograph. When we talk about the pseudo photograph meaning, we are referring to:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Tracing and derivatives of a photograph
  • Data that can be converted into a photograph

What is a pseudo photograph of a child?

The term pseudo photo can be applied regardless of what is depicted. However, in law, the pseudo photograph meaning is relevant to child pornography and indecent images.

A pseudo photo of a child would be anything that has been produced and depicts a child who is posed or pictured indecently, for example, in a sexual way. This can also include pseudo photographs which depict an adult involved in an indecent with a child or are involved in an indecent act with a child present.

How do pseudo photos or images differ from indecent images?

Indecent images refer to the wider offence of taking, permitting to be taken, to making, to possessing, showing or distributing an image of a child pictured indecently.

There is no statutory definition of ‘indecent’. When held in the case of a trial before a jury, it is for the jury to decide what is considered to be indecent by reference to whether it is something that offends the recognised standards of propriety.

Are pseudo photos or images illegal?

As pseudo photos are treated in the same way as indecent images, it is illegal to make, to possess, show, or to distribute or publish them.

Being found guilty of an offence related to pseudo images could result in a wide range of potential penalties, which will depend on the category of the image and the surrounding circumstances.

Could I go to prison for making a pseudo photo or image?

It is possible that you could go to prison for making (or producing) a pseudo image. As per Sentencing Council, the potential penalties for producing indecent images (including pseudo photos) are as follows:

  • Where it is shown that the defendant engaged in production of pseudo photos showing penetrative sexual activity or created pseudo images showing sexual activity with an animal or sadism, the starting point is 6 years custody with a range of 4 – 9 years custody.
  • Where the pseudo images show non penetrative sexual activity, the starting point is 2 years custody with a range of 1 – 4 years custody.
  • In any other case, the starting point is 18 months custody with a range of 1 – 3 years custody.

Could I go to prison for possessing a pseudo photo or image?

Possessing an indecent image, including a pseudo image, also carries a range of serious punishments, which vary depending on the content of the image in question. The potential penalties for possessing a pseudo photo are:

  • Where there are images of penetrative sexual activity or images involving sexual activity with an animal or sadism, the starting point is 1 years custody with a range of 26 weeks custody – 3 years custody.
  • Possession of images showing non penetrative sexual activity would attract a sentence with a starting point of 26 weeks custody and a range of a high level community order to 18 months custody.
  • Where the offence is possession, and there are no images of sexual activity, the guidelines suggest a starting point of a high level community order with a range of a medium level community order to 26 weeks custody.

Are there any additional punishments related to pseud photos?

In addition to the penalties listed above, there are also a range of other punishments which may be handed out to anyone who is found guilty of an offence relating to indecent images and pseudo photos.

Depending on the nature of the offence, anyone who is convicted may be required to register under the Sexual Offender’s Register, as well as be banned from working with children.

Someone convicted of a pseudo images offence may also be handed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO). An SHPO is a court order that the police or court can request if they have a specific concern about an individual.

The order will prevent that person from engaging in a specific activity, for example, preventing someone from having access to the internet without installed computer monitoring software.

What do I do if I receive an indecent image?

If you receive an indecent image or pseudo image, you could be considered to be in possession, which is considered a crime, even if you did not solicit the sending of the image.

Where this is the case, any investigations will look to prove knowledge of possessing indecent images by taking a look through any relevant devices and carrying out a forensic examination to prove knowledge or intent of possessing the pseudo image.

What defences are available to pseudo images offences?

The potential penalties for offences related to pseudo images can be very strict. However, depending on the circumstances, there are also a range of potential defences which can be used, either to prevent a conviction or to reduce the penalties that someone may be facing.

A defence could be put forward to suggest that someone accused of a pseudo images offence had a legitimate reason for possession or distribution. This is typically applied to anyone who may be required to access indecent imagery as a part of their employment.

In addition to this, it may be a defence if it can be shown that the defendant lacks awareness of the pseudo images. For example, if it can be shown that the person had not seen the photos or had reasonable cause to suspect that they could be considered indecent (and therefore illegal).

There have been previous examples of cases where a defendant has put forward the defence that the pseudo photos were in their possession because they were conducting research. 'Research’ is a subjective matter and is something for the jury or magistrates to decide on in each case. Courts are likely to bring in a measure of scepticism if this defence is used.

It could also be a defence if a defendant accused of possessing pseudo photos was not aware that the images were saved to their device – perhaps due to malware or a virus.

Should I speak to a solicitor if I’m accused of possessing pseudo photos?

No matter what the circumstances may be or the exact offence you are being accused of, the answer to this question is always yes. Sentencing guidelines for indecent images and, by extension, pseudo photos are harsh, which means the advice and guidance of an expert sexual offences solicitor cannot be underestimated.

If you have been arrested and are interviewed by the police, it is incredibly important that you understand your legal rights and what may harm your defence. Some people mistakenly make the assumption that speaking to a solicitor will signify guilt, but this is not accurate.

At JD Spicer Zeb, our pseudo photos solicitors have substantial expertise and experience in dealing with these types of offences and will be on hand to lend their support and advice. We will take every possible step to ensure your rights are protected and that you achieve the best possible outcome.

We will make sure that the alleged pseudo photos are correctly and accurately categorised, medical reports (including psychological evaluations) are collated and that the potential impact on you and your family is properly accounted for.

We work with a leading digital forensics provider Cyfor who can offer fast face to face expert advice on the initial forensic aspect of the police investigation. This can cost from around £500 plus VAT. The expert can advise in depth on lines of forensics the police will deploy and the likely outcome of interrogation of various platforms or devices.

Where a conviction is unavoidable, we will also work to ensure that any sentence is proportionate, including the application of an SHPO.

Contact our pseudo images defence lawyers today

For a free initial consultation, urgent specialist advice, immediate representation, or to speak to us confidentially about allegations of producing, possessing or distributing pseudo photos or indecent images, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

You can contact our dedicated indecent images defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone on:

Or email:

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

24/7 legal representation for pseudo photo offence allegations

Please get in touch for a free initial consultation with one of our expert criminal defence solicitors, as well as immediate representation and advice on dealing with allegations relating to pseudo photos or indecent images.

We are available to represent clients all over England and Wales at any time, so please contact our Emergency Number 07836 577 556.