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.
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.