Child Pornography

Child Pornography

Child Exploitation and Obscenity

According to the United States Department of Justice, images of child pornography (also called child sexual abuse images) are not protected under First Amendment rights. In other words, they are illegal. Federal law defines child pornography as "any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor." In the United States, any sexually explicit images that involve someone under the age of 18 are considered child pornography. This includes photographs, videos, computer-generated images and images that have been modified to depict children. Under federal law, undeveloped film and video tape that child sexual abuse images are illegal as well.

According to the Department of Justice, the legal definition of child pornography does not take into consideration the age of consent in each state. Any explicit image depicting an individual under the age of 18 is illegal. Also, the images do need to depict a child engaging sexual activity; nude images may qualify as pornographic, too. In the United States, it is illegal to produce, buy or distribute child pornography. However, the consequences of production, distribution and possession may vary depending on the circumstances surrounding a specific case. For example, manufacturing child pornography may be considered more offensive than possessing or purchasing it.

The Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Department of Justice is dedicated to eradicating child sexual abuse images from the United States. With the help of the High Technology Investigative Unit (HTIU), CEOS attorneys fight against child pornography. According to CEOS, child pornography is a growing problem in the United States. Since the 1980's, the Department of Justice has noticed a rise in the amount of child sexual abuse images this increase to the development of the internet. Through the internet, individuals are able to distribute images easier and in larger quantities.

CEOS is also works with law enforcement across the United States to identify, find and rescue children who have been coerced into participating in child pornography. This way, CEOS can help past victims and keep them from continued abuse. With the help of HITU, CEOS works with computer forensic specialists to travel across the globe conducting investigations and training investigators to help end child sexual abuse images. These investigations target child pornography offenders with the intention of prosecuting them. The CEOS works with other countries and supports their legislative proposals and policy involved federal child pornography laws.

What are the penalties?

According to federal law, crimes involved child sexual abuse images are a serious crime. Individual found guilty of a child pornography crime are subject to severe statutory penalties. Under 18 U.S.C. § 2251, individuals convicted of producing child pornography face exorbitant fines and a minimum of 15 years in prison for their first offense. At most, first time offenders will serve 30 years in prison. Individuals convicted of transporting pornographic images involving a minor will serve between five and 20 years in prison. Aggravated circumstances may elevate any of these penalties to a lifetime sentence.

According to the Department of Justice, aggravated circumstances include prior child pornography or child sexual exploitation convictions. If the child was sexually abused during the making of the image, the crime may be punishable by life imprisonment. Also, child pornography that is in any way violent, sadistic or masochistic is considered particularly offense and punishable by a lifetime of incarceration in a federal prison. Although child sexual abuse images are illegal under federal law, offenders may be prosecuted under state law as well.

Related Offenses

Child pornography is taken very serious. Because of this, parents and legal guardians of children in child sexual abuse material may be held liable for the crime. For instance, a parent or legal guardian that sells their child or transfers custody of a minor with the intention of producing child abuse images may be subject to child pornography allegations. Also, U.S. citizens outside of the United States are not allowed to produce, receive, transport, ship or distribute child abuse images. These crimes are punishable under United States federal law.

State or federal jurisdiction?

If the child abuse image offense occurs in the interstate or foreign commerce, it may fall under federal jurisdiction. Individuals who use the postal service or common carriers to move explicit images from one place to another will be prosecuted under federal jurisdiction. Additionally, any images distributed via the internet almost always fall under federal jurisdiction. In certain situations, the images may fall under federal jurisdiction. For example, they may not fall under state jurisdiction if they were downloaded from a computer that traveled in foreign or interstate commerce.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to investigating matters related to child pornography. With the help of law enforcement, they fight aggressively to find and prosecute individuals guilty of manufacturing, distributing or purchasing child sexual abuse images. Inspectors are trained to investigate crimes related to child pornography and actively participate in efforts to end child pornography in the United States.

If you have been charged with a child pornography crime, call Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich today. We understand the severity of the allegation you face and are ready to do everything in our power to make sure that your rights are protected. Child pornography is never okay, but convicting an innocent person of a crime they didn't commit is wrong, too. If you're under investigation or facing charges for child sexual abuse images, contact us criminal defense attorney from our firm and see what a lawyer from the firm can do to help you.