Child pornography charges are defined in the criminal codes of the jurisdiction issuing the charges — that is, the state or federal criminal codes. It's important that a criminal lawyer be very familiar with the exact wording of child pornography charges, because it may make or break the defense. Changes in Child Pornography Laws
All Child Pornography charges are based on laws — not on the whims of the police, prosecutor, or judge — and the laws in a given state or the federal system often change. Because of the complexity of child pornography cases, it is highly important for an individual accused of such charges to have an experienced, knowledgeable child pornography defense attorney fighting on his or her behalf. The U.S. Criminal Code's Child Pornography Charges
For example, the federal criminal code contains explicit definitions of the various aspects of child pornography charges. Many terms are spelled out, including: Child Pornography:
Any visual depiction (including photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture) whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where: The production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct, Such visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is (or is indistinguishable from) that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct, or Such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct Sexually explicit conduct:
(1) Graphic sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex, or lascivious simulated sexual intercourse where the genitals, breast, or pubic area of any person is exhibited,
(2) Graphic or lascivious simulated Bestiality, Masturbation, or Sadistic or masochistic abuse, or
3) Graphic or simulated lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person
A "minor" is defined as any person under the age of 18. Even the definition of "computer" is spelled out. Are You Facing Child Porn Charges?
A pornography addiction can best be described as an obsessive relationship with a fantasy.
It is a special class of sex addiction distinct from promiscuity, compulsive masturbation, anonymous sex, pedophilia, phone sex, fetishes, voyeurism, etc. For some sexually addicted people, pornography has little appeal. For others, their entire sex addiction revolves around pornography. For many others, pornography is a supplement to their regular sexually addictive behavior.
Pornography gives the user the illusion that each and every one of his or her addictive sexual compulsions can be met through fantasy. It can be described as an obsessive relationship with a fantasy. Pornography, like any other sex addiction, becomes the user's fix. The user becomes so enraptured, they end up destroying good relationships, spending hours and sometimes days cruising the Internet for porn and throwing out thousands of dollars on illusions.
At first it is almost impossible for someone caught up in a pornography addiction to believe that he or she can find real sexual enjoyment and better sexual pleasure with a person instead of a fantasy. However, with effective counseling, a genuine relationship does become the pornography addicted person's preferred sexual interest.
Some people addicted to pornography would rather have sex with their partner than with a pornographic fantasy. Yet, they keep returning to pornography because they don't know how to overcome their addiction. For them, learning and applying the principles of overcoming addiction is the issue.
Some pornography addicts believe they have the best of both worlds: their relationship and their addiction. Their belief is mistaken. In fact, they live with a severely limited relationship and a hidden addiction. One of the great rewards of overcoming a pornography addiction is the ability to be fully committed to another person in a loving way, having nothing to hide and enjoying great, loving sex.
The Pornography Addiction Interview
Pornography addiction and responsibilities: Do you neglect responsibilities to surf the Internet for pornography?
Progressive pornography addiction: Have you noticed that your need for pornography has increased over time?
Pornography addiction and relationships: If you are in a relationship, has your partner complained about being neglected?
Dependency and pornography addiction: If you are not in a relationship, have you ever felt that pornography is your one consistent companion?
Finances and pornography addiction: Do you wish you could stop spending so much money on pornography?
Obsession and pornography addiction: Do you have favorite pornography stars?
Real life and pornography addiction: Do you find that the more you use pornography the less interested you become in real life?
Shame and pornography addiction: Do you sneak or hide your use of pornography?
Loss of control and pornography addiction: Do you find that you cannot tear yourself away from pornography?
Effects of pornography addiction on relationships: Have you lost relationships in the past because of your pornography use?
Conflict and pornography addiction: Is a relationship you are in now threatened because of your pornography use?
Escape and pornography addiction: Do you wish that you could spend all your time watching pornography?
Alienation and pornography addiction: Do you feel that people do not understand your use of pornography?
Sexual impotency and pornography addiction, part I: Are you dependant on pornography as a stimulant for real sex?
Sexual impotency and pornography addiction, part II: Do you find that you can be sexually potent with pornography but not with a real person?
If reading through these questions aroused feelings of "that's me and I wish it wasn't so," you are addicted to pornography and you are not happy about it.
With an effective approach and honesty on your part, you can overcome your addiction and reap the benefits of living life in reality, and discovering that fantasy sex is not nearly as enjoyable as genuine, loving sex.
If you already know that the best sex is loving sex with a real person, then you simply need to learn the principles of effectively overcoming a sex addiction and how to apply them.
If you would like to know more about how sex addiction is overcome, it will be my pleasure to spend a half hour talking to you and advising you about how to overcome your addiction at no charge. Whatever you tell me will stay in confidence. I will not try to make you feel guilty. I will not try to humiliate you. I will try to help you. Even if we never talk again, you will find that the time you and I spend speaking to each other will be beneficial to you.
When I first contacted you, I had tried to quit "cold-turkey" many, many times before. After acting out my addiction, I would swear that this was the last time and I'm never going to do this again. But, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, I would be back to my addiction within weeks, if not days.
I contacted several people from sex addiction support groups. Every one had the same advice for me: Get into a twelve step program and start attending as many meetings as I possibly could. Well, that simply would not work for me. After I read your book, I called you, and after one conversation, I decided that I wanted you to help me.
Thanks to you, I am now able to have a normal, intimate relationship with my wife. I thought that I had loved her as much as I possibly could. But, during the counseling, I saw that my addiction was actually getting in the way of our relationship. I was indulging in this fantasy world that I had built up around me and I had little intimacy left over for my wife. Needless to say, this was having a negative impact on us not to mention making me feel guilty all of the time. Now, I'm more fully able to express my love for her, both emotionally and physically.
My work has improved as well, as a result of your counseling. I don't spend hours every day trying to appease my addiction. Needless to say, this has greatly increased my productivity at work.
For the first time in my life, I have hope. I can finally look at myself in the mirror and be happy about the kind of person that I am. I know, at last, that I am being true to myself; that I am being the kind of person that I always knew I was deep inside: a loving, faithful husband. For this, you have my undying gratitude.
Internet Pornography Defense ConsiderationsInternet crime charges require specific defense strategies and should be defended by counsel with significant experience in cybercrimes.
It is possible to be in possession or distribution of pornographic materials without your knowledge. In some cases, the mere presence of pornographic images on a computer hard drive can implicate the owner or user of the computer regardless of how or when these images were obtained.
The Internet crosses national boundaries, and the definition of Internet content as "pornography" is somewhat vague and subject to personal interpretation. Additionally, prosecutors often must consider the intent to distribute the materials and their intended audience in these cases.
A particular consideration is the fact that Internet criminal charges are often made by the federal government, not the states. Federal criminal defense is significantly different from state defense and requires different strategies and considerations.
The Criminal Defense Group has extensive experience both in sex crimes and cybercrimes at the state and federal level. If you are facing potential Internet Pornography charges, we recommend that you obtain legal counsel as early as possible. Early intervention is critical to obtaining the best results.
Computer Child Pornography Charges Computer child pornography is readily available on the internet. However, its possession in the form of photographs or pictures on a computer is a serious crime. Computer child pornography comes to the attention of law enforcement in many ways. A person may take a computer to be repaired and when the computer is picked up the police are waiting because the computer repair technician reported the computer child pornography. Police in Orlando are also posing as minors in chat rooms and on various web sites to develop suspects. Law enforcement also monitor shared sites such as Lime Wire and Kazaa for child pornography that is being distributed or downloaded. A warrant is then obtained and a person’s hard drive is seized and searched for child pornography. If child pornography is found, it could result in the owner of the computer, or any user of the computer, being charged with distribution or receipt of the child pornography.
The federal government considers the receipt and distribution of child pornography to be so serious that it is punished by a term of prison up to 20 years.
The receipt or distribution of child pornography carries with it a minimum of 5 years incarceration. Possession of child pornography with the intent to sell is likewise subject to a minimum of 5 years imprisonment with a maximum of 20 years.
The federal law makes it illegal to possess or to knowingly access with intent to view a book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, computer disk, or any material that contains an image of child pornography that has been mailed or shipped or transported by any means including the internet. This carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
When law enforcement finds child pornography on a computer, they normally assume that the computer owner intentionally downloaded the child pornography and therefore violated the law. In handling these cases we look carefully at this issue to find potential defenses which can include someone else’s use of the computer or accidental downloading of the images.
It is possible that a person would download a group of pictures and not realize that within the large group of pictures is child pornography. This would be a defense however, a full review of the hard drive by an expert is required.
The State of Florida likewise treats child pornography as a serious crime. The mere possession of child pornography, including hard copy pictures or computer images, as well as the transmission of child pornography is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison for each picture or image. Each picture and each computer image constitutes a separate offense. Therefore if a person only has 10 child pornography pictures on a hard drive, the maximum punishment of 50 years in prison is possible and Florida Criminal Punishment Code would call for a minimum sentence of 36- months incarceration.
It is common in computer child pornography to have numerous pictures. On the Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet, a person with 100 photographs could face 100 separate offenses each with a maximum of 5 years for a total maximum of 500 years. The sentencing scoresheets would call for a sentence of incarceration of 33 years. Confronting state or federal charges of possession or distribution of child pornography is a serious matter.
A case in Federal District Court in Orlando, Florida, handled by another law firm, resulted in a 50-year sentence. That case involved not only possession of child pornography but also a charge that the defendant generated child pornography by utilizing a 6-year old child. The 50 year sentence was imposed even though the defendant plead guilty and did not have a trial. Each case is dependent upon the facts and circumstance unique to the particular defendant not only as to guilt or innocence of the crime, but also to factors which may be useful in obtaining the lowest possible sentence in plea negotiations.
In the case noted above for which the defendant received a 50-year sentence, this firm cannot comment as to the basis for that sentence since the defendant was represented by another attorney. The impact of a plea of guilty in federal court where negotiated pleas are different than in state court, can often have results which are not appreciated by the defendant until it’s too late. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are quite severe in the computation of the sentencing range.
For example, if the defendant has over 300 but less than 600 child pornography images on a computer and if the pictures involve sexual exploitation of minors or prepubescent minors who are not yet 12 years of age or are deemed sadistic or masochistic, the defendant can be facing a sentencing range of 11 to 14 years. The sentencing guidelines, while no longer mandatory, are still followed by many federal judges. There is however, a growing movement by district courts to recognize that the sentencing guidelines as they pertain to child pornography cases are not based upon logical or statistical studies to justify such severe sentences.
An individual confronted by an investigation or charges involving child pornography is in a serious situation whether in state or federal court. However, because of the nature of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the practices of the prosecutors in plea negotiations, individuals who find themselves in federal court face a greater likelihood of receiving long periods of incarceration. For that reason it is important to have counsel experienced in handling child pornography cases and in dealing in federal criminal law if the case is in federal court. A state case can also result in a long prison sentence and so anyone under investigation or charged with a crime relating to child pornography should retain an experienced.
Pornography is more widespread today than it has ever been before. For that reason, it’s important to understand the law as it relates to the usage, distribution, and creation of pornography. No matter what connection you have with porn, understanding these laws can prevent you from serving time in jail or being labelled as a sexual predator for the rest of your life.
The premier experts on porn law are lawyers who specialize in pornography cases. By hiring a good pornography lawyer, you can understand exactly what your legal rights are as a citizen of the United States and what to do if you are implicated in pornography-related offences.
First Amendment protection
Many porn producers are protected by the First Amendment’s rights to freedom of speech and expression. Since pornography is legally considered a form of artistic expression, the creation and distribution of porn are largely governed by the First Amendment. This is especially useful for individuals and companies who distribute or create pornography themselves.
The First Amendment protects virtually any type of pornography, with the exception of child pornography. The creation and distribution of ‘obscene’ pornography – which displays particularly violent or crude sexual activity – is largely unregulated due to the First Amendment, and courts almost always rule in favor of porn producers as a result of this constitutional right.
Essentially, if the pornographic material displays two adults of age, then it is difficult to convict you under current US laws. A good pornography lawyer can help you avoid charges and get you off based on every American’s First Amendment rights.Child pornography law
The laws surrounding child pornography are an entirely different story. These cases are much more frequently investigated than illegal pornography between adults, and those who create and distribute child pornography are harshly punished. Unfortunately, an erroneous child pornography charge can have devastating effects on one’s professional relationship, and it is incredibly important that you choose a good pornography lawyer to handle your case.
Unfortunately, a large number of people who have been charged with child pornography-related offences are innocent. There have been cases where hackers exploited a computer user’s involvement with a file sharing site in order to plant child pornography on their computer. In some cases, these hackers have even used that user’s internet connection to distribute that child pornography online. This can occur without your permission or involvement. Nevertheless, in the eyes of the law, your computer has been used to distribute child pornography and you will be charged as such.
Even if you’re not distributing child pornography, inadvertently accessing it online can result in criminal charges. The FBI monitors thousands of such sites across the internet, and, even if you do not willingly download child pornography yourself, merely visiting that site will install cookies and thumbnail images on your computer that could result in a conviction if your computer is ever seized.
There are many punishments resulting from child pornography-related offences. In addition to jail time, those who are convicted may be forced to attend sexual-health seminars with other convicted criminals and be registered on the sex offender list for the rest of their lives. These charges will stay with you for the rest of your life and will seriously and permanently damage your professional reputation. For all of these reasons, it’s incredibly important to find a child pornography lawyer who has demonstrated success in his or her field.
A good child pornography lawyer can help you avoid cases involving chat rooms, peer-to-peer file sharing networks, and other charges stemming from the possession and distribution of child pornography. By choosing a pornography lawyer with experience in the industry, you can ensure that your case has the best chance of proceeding in your favor.
Distributing pornography to minors
Distributing pornography to minors, or allowing them to access it, is a crime. While most online porn sites absolve themselves of any liability by including a disclosure at the entrance of their website, others do not, and this can result in serious criminal charges being levied against either yourself or your company.
Similarly, those who sell sexually explicit materials to a minor – even a minor with a convincing fake ID – can be criminally charged. This has occurred against workers and owners of various adult entertainment stores, and, if handled correctly by a good pornography lawyer, it can often result in dropped charges. With that in mind, finding a local pornography lawyer can clear your name and prevent you from ever being convicted.
Copyright law and pornography
Just like any form of artistic expression, works of pornography are protected through various copyright laws. Since these laws may be slightly different and more complicated than an average copyright case, a pornography lawyer will work hard to ensure that your copyright is protected and will take action against those who use your material unlawfully.
Cases involving ‘sexting’ have been an unfortunate problem in recent years, as teenagers who consentingly send sexually explicit pictures of themselves to friends or partners can be charged with distributing child pornography. While these pictures may initially be sent between two individuals, they can quickly spread all across the internet, causing a snowball effect that can permanently damage one’s reputation.
If you or someone you know has been involved with a sexting case, a good pornography lawyer can help. Today, more and more courts are ruling in the favor of minors involved in sexting cases, and many lawyers and states have suggested legislation that would prevent minors from being slapped with child porn laws. If you want to avoid being labeled as a sexual offender for the rest of your life, then you need to find yourself a good pornography lawyer.
Due to the complexities of emerging forms of media, navigating through the field of pornography law takes skill and experience. When you choose a good pornography lawyer, you can relax knowing that your case has the best chance of proceeding in your favor. With the sensitive nature of pornography-related offences – particularly those involving child pornography – the ability to clear your name can have permanent effects on your reputation.
Internet pornography is a battlefield in U.S. law. Since the explosion of public interest in the Net in the 1990s, the public, lawmakers, and the courts have argued over how to control online porn. Congress and state legislatures have passed several laws aimed at protecting children from exposure to socalled cyber porn, but the most sweeping of these have often failed to pass constitutional tests. The failure of these laws in court means this popular yet controversial medium faces few regulations.
According to the Internet Filter Review (an industry group advocating pornography filtering), Internet pornography accounts for $2.5 billion of the $57 billion worldwide pornography market. The Review found that in 2003 there were 4.2 million pornography Web sites allowing access to 72 million worldwide visitors, of which 40 million of them were Americans. One fourth of the search engine requests every day (68 million) are for pornographic material.
In some respects, the issue continues a legal struggle many decades old. Opponents of pornography have long tried to control it on moral grounds, even as proponents sought to protect it as a valid expression of free speech. Traditionally, opponents won these battles. The Supreme Court established that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment, but the difficult question in each case has been defining what is and what is not obscene. Court rulings gradually shifted from a broad, forbidding position of the late 1950s to holding, in the 1970s, that communities could set their own standards for obscenity. Replayed in countless courtrooms, the tug-of-war between these camps has continued ever since.
But the fight over cyber porn carries traditional arguments into new areas shaped by technology. A chief concern is that the Internet allows minors easy access to it through search engines—sometimes even accidentally. U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson contended that minors could stumble upon or intentionally enter 28,000 commercial porn websites. Also of worry is the Internet’s ability to facilitate the illegal dissemination of child pornography. And the ubiquity of Internet access has raised new social problems by introducing pornography into new settings, such as public libraries and the workplace.
Milestones in the development of Internet pornography law include the following.
The Supreme Court established that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment in Roth v. United States (1957), declaring obscenity to be “utterly without redeeming social importance.”
After subsequent cases showed the difficulty of finding a conclusive definition of obsceni-ty, the Court restated its definition in Miller v. California (1973). It substituted a detailed three-part test ultimately to be used by each locality—the so-called “community standards” test.
The Court ruled that child pornography is not a form of expression protected under the constitution in New York v. Ferber (1982). It has also upheld a state law prohibiting the possession and viewing of child porn in Osborne v. Ohio (1990).
Seeking to control Internet porn, Congress first passed legislation in 1996. The Communications Decency Act (CDA) criminalized the dissemination over computer networks of obscene or indecent material to children. Immediately blocked from enforcement by the courts, it was ruled unconstitutional under the First Amendment in 1997.
Seeking to update federal child pornography law for the Internet, Congress passed the Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA) of 1996. Among other features, the law criminalized any visual depiction that “appears to be” child pornography, including so-called virtual porn created by computer. After lower courts struck down provisions of the statute, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal. In Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, (2002), the high court agreed with the Ninth Circuit that two key provisions of the CPPA were unconstitutionally overbroad (affecting both legal and illegal speech) under the First Amendment. The law was struck down.
Congress responded by passing the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) of 1998. More narrowly written, COPA took aim at commercial online porn sites that disseminate material to minors. And, anticipating constitutional objections, it mandated that criminal cases brought under it would be tried according to contemporary community standards. The law set stiff penalties of $150,000 for each day of violation and up to six months in prison. However, COPA suffered similar setbacks in court after the ACLU and several non-pornographic online websites successfully contested it, first in federal district court in Philadelphia and then before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. As before with the CDA, the Justice Department continued to appeal; this time, it argued that online porn is even more readily accessible to children and thus in need of urgent control. However, in 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Congress’ version of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), in that it did not sufficiently protect the rights of adults to consensually view sexually explicit material on the Internet. Ashcroft v. ACLU, No. 03-0218 (2004). The Court, by a close 5-4 vote, concluded that the government had not shown why less-restrictive alternatives (such as software filters) could not be equally or more effective. The high court noted that filtering software had come a long way in just five years, and that two less restrictive laws had passed muster, one prohibiting misleading domain names, and another creating a child-safe kids.domain, and that these and similar actions may be sufficient to protect children. The case was remanded to a lower court for further investigation and action.
In response to this, the Department of Justice began issuing subpoenas to Google, Yahoo, and MSN, to obtain one million random Web addresses and records of all searches for a one-week period in order to prove the superiority and necessity of COPA, and the ineffectiveness of filtering technology. As these federal cases suggest, recent outcomes have favored those who regard federal control of Internet pornography as censorship. That does not mean the issues are settled, as indeed partisans on both sides of the issue eagerly anticipate forthcoming proposed legislation and judicial review thereof.. More Info. Is Coming Soon From Westlaw Books & Citizens Court Watch Too.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws governing obscenity, child pornography, and harassment. Prepared by Ronald J. Palenski, Partner, Gordon & Glickson P.C., what follows is a general commentary on these laws plus a state-by-state overview on the extent to which they may apply in on-line or other digital environments.
All states have laws governing the distribution of obscene materials. Generally, these statutes prohibit the sale, lending, renting, giving, publication, exhibition or other dissemination of materials, with general knowledge of their obscene character and content. Drafted before an electronic age, many states define “materials” as covering any writing, written matter, picture, pictorial representation, film or motion picture, or sound recording.
“Obscenity” is typically defined as material which, to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, and taken as a whole: 1) predominantly appeals to prurient interests, 2) lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value, and 3) depicts or describes nudity, sex, or excretion in a patently offensive way. Of course, what constitutes the relevant “community” in on-line environments without geographic boundaries is an open issue.
In a very few states, obscenity laws cover the dissemination of tangible material only, a matter of some importance given the debate in other areas of the law whether computer software or other information in digital format is tangible or intangible.* Similarly, many states prohibit the distribution of electronic or electrical reproductions of obscene material. Presumably such statutes cover obscene material in digital format; note, however, that ambiguities in criminal statutes are to be construed strictly against the state and in favor of the accused.
A very few states prohibit the distribution of obscene materials to minors only; distribution to adults is not prohibited.
All states prohibit child pornography. “Child pornography” may encompass either: 1) the creation or reproduction of materials depicting minors engaged in actual or simulated sexual activity (“Sexual Exploitation of Minors”) or 2) the publication or distribution of obscene, indecent, or harmful materials to minors. All such laws require actual knowledge, or reason to know, that the person portrayed or the recipient of the obscene, indecent, or harmful material is a minor. A few states also penalize the distribution, with reckless disregard, of obscene or indecent materials to minors. The states generally provide defenses to the publisher or distributor where some reasonable attempt has been made to discern the age of the recipient of the obscene, indecent, or harmful material.
As noted above, most state statutes reach beyond what is deemed to be “obscene” for adults to prohibit the distribution of material that has been determined to be “harmful to minors,” including that which is indecent or excessively violent. As with obscenity statutes generally, what is “harmful to minors” is to be determined with reference to the local “community.” Note, too, that the definition of a “minor” varies among the states, with most state laws applying to the distribution of harmful material to persons under the age of 18 years but some states prohibiting the distribution of harmful material to those under the age of 17 years.
All states have statutes prohibiting harassment and stalking. “Harassment” statutes typically prohibit the intentional or knowing engaging in a regular course of conduct (which may include sending mail - including electronic mail - or other written** communications) designed to alarm or seriously annoy another. “Harassment” is sometimes included as a subset of “stalking,” which is defined typically as the willful, malicious, and repeated harassing of another, or the making of a credible threat, with intent to place another in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. Prohibited “stalking” may directed towards one’s person or one’s family. Threats to property may also be covered.
All states have statutes prohibiting harassment by telephone, although it appears that most of these statutes contemplate voice rather than digital communications. These statutes thus prohibit the use, with intent to harass or annoy, of the telephone: 1) to make obscene or lewd proposals, 2) to threaten to inflict injury, or 3) to call repeatedly, whether or not conversation ensues.
With this general background, what follows is an overview of state obscenity, child pornography, and harassment/stalking laws, as particularly applicable in on-line or digital environments.
* For purpose of state sales and use tax laws, most states regard prewritten computer programs, at least, as tangible personal property. Similarly, most courts that have examined the issue have determined that computer software constitutes “goods” for purposes of Uniform Commercial Code, Article 2. The federal government, on the other hand, has determined computer software to be intangible for tax purposes.
** Many statutes prohibit written communications intended to harass, annoy, or seriously alarm. The issue arises whether digital communications are included within the scope of the statute. See Full Website: http://www.lorenavedon.com/laws.htm Thank You !
Citizen's Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography
18 U.S.C. § 2251- Sexual Exploitation of Children (Production of child pornography) 18 U.S.C. § 2251A- Selling and Buying of Children 18 U.S.C. § 2252- Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors (Possession, distribution and receipt of child pornography) 18 U.S.C. § 2252A- certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography 18 U.S.C. § 2256- Definitions 18 U.S.C. § 2260- Production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the United States
Images of child pornography are not protected under First Amendment rights, and are illegal contraband under federal law. Section 2256 of Title 18, United States Code, defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). Visual depictions include photographs, videos, digital or computer generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor, and images created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor. Undeveloped film, undeveloped videotape, and electronically stored data that can be converted into a visual image of child pornography are also deemed illegal visual depictions under federal law. Notably, the legal definition of sexually explicit conduct does not require that an image depict a child engaging in sexual activity. A picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive. Additionally, the age of consent for sexual activity in a given state is irrelevant; any depiction of a minor under 18 years of age engaging in sexually explicit conduct is illegal. Federal law prohibits the production, distribution, reception, and possession of an image of child pornography using or affecting any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce (See 18 U.S.C. § 2251; 18 U.S.C. § 2252; 18 U.S.C. § 2252A). Specifically, Section 2251 makes it illegal to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for purposes of producing visual depictions of that conduct. Any individual who attempts or conspires to commit a child pornography offense is also subject to prosecution under federal law. Federal jurisdiction is implicated if the child pornography offense occurred in interstate or foreign commerce. This includes, for example, using the U.S. Mails or common carriers to transport child pornography across state or international borders. Additionally, federal jurisdiction almost always applies when the Internet is used to commit a child pornography violation. Even if the child pornography image itself did not traveled across state or international borders, federal law may be implicated if the materials, such as the computer used to download the image or the CD Rom used to store the image, originated or previously traveled in interstate or foreign commerce. In addition, Section 2251A of Title 18, United States Code, specifically prohibits any parent, legal guardian or other person in custody or control of a minor under the age of 18, to buy, sell, or transfer custody of that minor for purposes of producing child pornography. Lastly, Section 2260 of Title 18, United States Code, prohibits any persons outside of the United States to knowingly produce, receive, transport, ship, or distribute child pornography with intent to import or transmit the visual depiction into the United States. Any violation of federal child pornography law is a serious crime, and convicted offenders face severe statutory penalties. For example, a first time offender convicted of producing child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2251, face fines and a statutory minimum of 15 years to 30 years maximum in prison. A first time offender convicted of transporting child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce under 18 U.S.C. § 2252, faces fines and a statutory minimum of 5 years to 20 years maximum in prison. Convicted offenders may face harsher penalties if the offender has prior convictions or if the child pornography offense occurred in aggravated situations defined as (i) the images are violent, sadistic, or masochistic in nature, (ii) the minor was sexually abused, or (iii) the offender has prior convictions for child sexual exploitation. In these circumstances, a convicted offender may face up to life imprisonment. It is important to note that an offender can be prosecuted under state child pornography laws in addition to, or instead of, federal law.
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