Being accused of child pornography is a life-altering event. It can shatter your reputation, relationships, and future prospects. Federal authorities vigorously investigate and prosecute these cases, leaving no room for error in your defense.
Time is of the essence. Federal child pornography cases move swiftly, and delays in mounting a defense can be detrimental. Evidence may be lost, and opportunities for building a strong case can slip away. Seeking legal counsel from our experienced child pornography lawyer is imperative to protect your rights and interests.
At Whalen Law Office, we’re dedicated to safeguarding your future. Our focus on federal criminal cases, including child pornography offenses, ensures you have the best defense on your side.
Contact us today for a confidential consultation.
Penalties and Consequences for Child Pornography Offenses
Under federal law, child pornography is defined as any “visual depiction” of a minor engaging in “sexually explicit conduct.” A visual depiction can include pictures, videos, or digital images. A minor, in this context, refers to anyone under 18 years old. “Sexually explicit conduct” encompasses a range of sexual activities, such as intercourse, masturbation, and the “lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area” of any person. Even nudity can be considered “sexually explicit conduct” if it is sexually suggestive.
Possession of Child Pornography
It is illegal under federal law (18 U.S.C. §2252) to produce, distribute, receive, or possess any child pornography. Even knowingly searching for and viewing child pornography, even if the images are subsequently destroyed or deleted, is a crime.
The penalties for possession of child pornography are severe:
- Up to 10 years in prison: A person convicted of knowingly possessing child pornography can face imprisonment for up to 10 years.
- Up to 20 years in prison: If the minor depicted in the image is under the age of twelve, the sentence can be increased to a maximum of 20 years.
These penalties can be substantially higher if the individual has a prior conviction. In addition to imprisonment, fines, and restitution payments are often required to compensate identifiable victims of the offense. Furthermore, a conviction for a child pornography offense in federal court mandates registration as a sex offender.
Distribution and Receipt of Child Pornography
Distributing or receiving child pornography is another serious offense under federal law. A person convicted of these crimes faces a 5 to 20-year prison sentence. The severity of the sentence may increase based on various factors, including prior convictions.
Sexual Exploitation of Children
Sexual exploitation of children, a separate federal offense, pertains to producing child pornography. This crime involves attempting to induce, persuade, or entice a minor to engage in a sexual act to create a video, picture, or other image. As with other federal child pornography laws, a minor is defined as anyone under the age of 18.
Even if all of the conduct occurs outside of the United States, a person can be prosecuted for sexual exploitation under federal law (18 U.S.C. §2251) if they intended to send or make available child pornography to people in the United States.
The penalties for sexual exploitation under federal law are extremely severe:
- Mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years: Conviction for sexual exploitation carries a minimum 15-year prison sentence.
- Maximum sentence of 30 years: The maximum prison sentence for sexual exploitation is 30 years.
The exact sentence for a child pornography or sexual exploitation conviction depends on various factors and is calculated based on the advisory federal sentencing guidelines.
Affirmative Defenses for Child Pornography Charges
An affirmative defense is a legal strategy that allows defendants to present evidence supporting their innocence or mitigating circumstances. In the context of child pornography charges, there exists an affirmative defense outlined in 18 U.S.C. § 2252, paragraph (4) of subsection (a), which can significantly impact the outcome of your case.
It shall be an affirmative defense to a child pornography charge if the defendant:
- Possessed Less than Three Matters Containing Proscribed Visual Depictions: If you possessed a small quantity of materials that could be considered child pornography, this affirmative defense may apply.
- Promptly and in Good Faith Took Action: To establish this affirmative defense successfully, you must demonstrate that you acted promptly and in good faith upon becoming aware of the prohibited visual depictions in your possession. Two key actions are required:
a. You took reasonable steps to destroy each proscribed visual depiction. The first option within this affirmative defense involves taking reasonable steps to promptly destroy each prohibited visual depiction in your possession. This action demonstrates your sincere intent to rid yourself of the materials in question and disassociate from them.
b. You reported the matter to a law enforcement agency. Alternatively, you can establish this defense by reporting the matter to a law enforcement agency. Reporting the existence of the prohibited visual depictions and affording the agency access to these materials demonstrates your intention to cooperate with authorities in addressing the issue.
It is essential to note that the application of affirmative defenses in child pornography cases can be complex and fact-specific. Successful implementation of these defenses often depends on the specific circumstances of your case and the guidance of an experienced sex crimes attorney.
Strategic Legal Defense in Child Pornography Cases
Navigating child pornography charges requires a strategic and well-considered legal defense. At Whalen Law Office, our approach is designed to provide you with the best possible outcome. Here’s how we help:
- Challenging Evidence Collection Procedures: Rigorous questioning can uncover illegal search and seizure instances, leading to potential suppression of illicitly obtained evidence.
- Questioning Chain of Custody: Meticulous examination into whether any irregularities occurred during storage or evidence handling could cast doubt upon its reliability.
- Disputing Intent and Knowledge: The attorney may argue that their client was unaware they were in possession of such material or did not intend to distribute it.
It cannot be overstated how vital legal representation is when facing allegations related to child pornography. An experienced lawyer can mean the difference between freedom preserved and liberty lost.
Why Whalen Law Office?
When facing child pornography charges under federal law, your choice of legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. At Whalen Law Office, we understand the gravity of the situation you’re in, and we are committed to providing the expert legal counsel and support you need.
Here’s why you should choose us as your defense team:
- Unwavering Dedication: We specialize exclusively in federal criminal cases, including child pornography offenses. This specialized focus means we have a deep understanding of the intricacies of federal law, giving us a unique advantage in crafting a robust defense strategy tailored to your specific situation.
- Nonjudgmental Approach: We pride ourselves on offering a safe and nonjudgmental space for our clients. We understand that facing child pornography charges is a distressing and sensitive matter. Our team is here to support you without passing judgment, ensuring your voice is heard and your rights are protected.
- Extensive Experience: Our attorneys have a proven track record of successfully defending clients in federal child pornography cases. We have the experience and knowledge to navigate the complexities of the federal legal system, helping you make informed decisions at every step.
- Personalized Strategies: Every child pornography case is unique, and we approach each one with a personalized strategy. We take the time to thoroughly review the details of your case, identify potential defenses, and craft a legal strategy designed to achieve the best possible outcome.
In the face of child pornography charges, the stakes are high, and you need a legal team that is experienced, compassionate, and dedicated to your defense. Whalen Law Office is here to stand by your side, fight for your rights, and provide you with the best possible chance for a positive outcome.
Contact us today to discuss your case and take the first step toward securing your future.
Can I defend myself in a child pornography case?
While it is legally possible to represent yourself, we strongly advise against it. Child pornography cases are intricate, and an experienced attorney is essential to protect your rights and build a solid defense strategy.
What should I do if I’m approached by law enforcement?
If you are approached by law enforcement, it is crucial to exercise your right to remain silent and contact an attorney immediately. Anything you say can be used against you in court.
How can I afford a lawyer for my child pornography case?
Whalen Law Office offers flexible payment plans and will work with you to find a solution that fits your budget. Your future is worth the investment in a strong defense.
Is it possible to have child pornography charges dismissed?
Dismissal of charges is possible in certain situations, such as if evidence was obtained unlawfully or if there are issues with the prosecution’s case. A skilled attorney can explore these avenues for you.
What should I expect during a child pornography trial?
Child pornography trials can be emotionally challenging. Your attorney will guide you through the process, helping you prepare for court appearances and ensuring your rights are protected throughout.