Pornography that involves children is so objectionable that even possession of child pornography can lead to serious criminal charges. The United States government has broad jurisdiction for child pornography charges since pornography can be transferred from state to state in various ways, which means the charges you face will likely be federal charges. But even severe criminal penalties may not equal the damage that could be done to your life both personally and professionally if you become associated with child pornography.
What Is Child Pornography?
The United States Department of Justice provides a detailed description of what constitutes child pornography on its website. There, it is explained that the United States Code defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. Visual depictions can include photographs, videos, computer-generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor and modified images that appear to depict an actual minor. Undeveloped film and electronic data that can be converted into a visual image of child pornography are also considered illegal visual depictions.
The Department of Justice explains that sexually explicit conduct does not require an image of a child engaging in sexual activity. A photo of a naked child can also be considered as illegal pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive.
What Makes Child Pornography a Federal Crime?
According to the Department of Justice, the production, distribution or possession of child pornography is a federal crime if it occurred in interstate or foreign commerce. Interstate commerce has an extremely broad definition and includes the use of the U.S. Mail or other shipping methods to cross state lines. The child pornography itself does not have to cross state lines because there can be federal jurisdiction even if the material used to store the image had been involved in interstate commerce. Use of the Internet almost always leads to federal jurisdiction for child pornography crimes.
Production of Child Pornography
The first major category of federal crimes related to child pornography involves its creation, described in 18 U.S.C. § 2251 as sexual exploitation of children. The law makes it illegal to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct. The law also makes it illegal for any parent or legal guardian to knowingly permit a minor to engage in any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct. Additionally, it is illegal to knowingly publish an advertisement seeking to purchase, produce, or distribute a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
The United States Code provides severe punishments for the sexual exploitation of children. There is a mandatory prison term of not less than 15 years and not more than 30 years for a first time offender. A repeat offender faces a prison term of not less than 25 years and not more than 50 years, while someone with two or more prior convictions faces a prison term of not less than 35 years and up to life in prison.
Distribution and Sale of Child Pornography
The United States Code makes it a crime to knowingly transport, distribute or sell a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct or child pornography. The transport, distribution or sale of child pornography carries a mandatory sentence of not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years in prison. Offenders with a prior related conviction face a prison term of not less than 15 years and up to 40 years.
Possession of Child Pornography
The possession or accessing of child pornography can lead to severe punishments, as well. A conviction for knowingly possessing or accessing with the intent to view any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, computer disk or any other material that contains an image of child pornography or visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexual conduct carries a heavy fine and a possible prison term of up to 10 years. However, if any image involved a prepubescent minor or a minor who had not reached the age of 12 the length of a possible prison term increases to 20 years. Offenders with a prior related conviction face a mandatory prison term of not less than 10 years and not more than 20 years.
The United States Code does provide for an affirmative defense to the possession of child pornography. If a person possessed less than three pieces of pornography and then promptly and in good faith either took reasonable steps to destroy the items or reported the matter to a law enforcement agency, that action can be asserted as a defense to the possession of child pornography.
Let Ohio Federal Child Pornography Lawyers Help
If you are facing federal child pornography charges, you are facing severe criminal penalties along with personal and professional damage that will follow you for the rest of your life. You will need an experienced attorney who can provide you with the strongest possible defense in federal court. The Ohio federal criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates have years of experience handling federal cases and reaching the best possible outcomes for our clients.
Call an Ohio federal crime lawyer today for a free consultation. For a criminal defense attorney, call us at
Facing federal criminal charges? Contact us.
If you have been charged with a federal crime, you’re probably wondering what your options are. The Ohio federal criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates have years of experience handling these types of cases and winning optimal outcomes for our clients. Call an Ohio federal crime lawyer today for a free consultation. To contact a criminal defense attorney, call us at (614) 500-3836 or email us via [email protected].