Josh Duggar Sentencing Update: One Charge Dropped in Child Pornography Case

Josh Duggar appeared in court for a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, only to learn that one of his convictions has already been dropped. The former 19 Kids and Counting star was convicted of two counts of knowingly receiving and possessing child pornography back in December. According to a report by PEOPLE, Judge Timothy L. Brooks agreed to have the possession charge vacated on Wednesday.

Both the defense and prosecution agreed to have the second charge against Duggar dropped without prejudice ahead of Wednesday's sentencing hearing. As they discussed in court, possession is a lesser included offense of the receipt of child pornography. Duggar's team introduced an objection to that charge, and Judge Brooks reportedly sustained it on the grounds that the 34-year-old did not knowingly distribute any of the illicit material in his possession. This ultimately resulted in a lighter sentence for Duggar.

Duggar now faces up to 20 years in prison plus up to $250,000 in fines. Before the second charge was vacated, he could have faced the maximum sentence for each conviction. However, his lawyers say that he still plans to appeal his case and they hope to avoid sentencing altogether. Duggar has maintained his innocence throughout the entire case.

The hearing was held at the Western District of Arkansas Federal Courthouse in Fayetteville. Duggar's father, Jim Bob and his wife, Anna reportedly sat in the front row of the courtroom, right behind the defendant himself. Attendees saw Duggar turn around to smile at his wife often throughout the proceedings. Further back in the crowd were Duggar's sister, Joy-Anna Forsyth and his brother Jason Duggar.

Duggar was arrested in April of 2021 by Homeland Security. He was convicted swiftly in December, and his legal team sought an acquittal in January. Although they were denied, they have not eased up on the case. After successfully delaying Wednesday's hearing for nearly two months, they presented over 20 objections to the sentencing report.

Duggar has a long history of alleged sexual predation, including allegations from his own family. The Duggar family avoided legal prosecution for these early cases and tried to settle them with the aid of religion and in-house discipline. However, when news of these buried offenses broke in the public eye, the scandal caused the family's TLC reality show to be temporarily canceled. It was later revived as Counting On without the eldest Duggar brother involved, but that has since been canceled as well.

The current case stems from a Homeland Security investigation of Duggar in November of 2019, when they executed a warrant on Duggar's used car dealership. They reportedly found that Duggar had knowingly received pornographic images of children under the age of 12 years old. There's no word yet on when Duggar is due back in court for his appeal.