What Can You Be Prosecuted for By the Federal Government if You're Caught With Child Pornography on Your Computer or Other Device?
I've represented these cases since they came into existence, and what ends up happening a lot of times is somehow, the feds become aware that you are involved with child pornography.
Either you happen on some sort of a site or an App that they've taken over and arrested people on, or you start communicating with the feds themselves, and they end up coming to serve a search warrant at your home.
Another thing I've seen on some of these social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram — and a number of other social media outlets — is that people send messages or child pornography back and forth.
The feds are getting notifications from these social media sites, which are basically telling on the people becoming involved in this type of activity, or somehow the feds can tap in and monitor and capture that information. To give readers a better understanding of child pornography charges, our federal criminal defense attorneys are providing a review below.
18 U.S.C. § 2252 Possession of Child Pornography
So, if you get caught with child pornography on your computer, your phone, laptop, iPad — whatever device you may have — you can be prosecuted for a number of different crimes. The first and most obvious crime is 18 U.S.C. § 2252 possession of child pornography.
Depending on how many images you're caught with, that could get you many years in federal prison. That's probably the lowest rung I see at the federal level regarding child pornography.
They don't have to charge you at the federal level. If you don't have enough images on your computer, they may decide that you're not worth their time, and they'll kick the case down to the state government wherever you live and let them deal with it.
A lot of times, it's a task force that comes in. It's not just the feds. It's also the state when they execute a search warrant at your home. So, they can easily kick that down to them and let them deal with any child pornography that's found.
Distribution of Child Pornography Charges
If there are enough images, then in addition to charging you with possession, they can also charge you with distribution. You can be charged if you've distributed it in any way. That has a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence if you're convicted of that particular charge.
So, you obviously don't want that charge. That's one thing the prosecutors do in the federal cases. They'll say to the defense attorney, we can charge your client with distribution, and he/she is looking at a 5-year mandatory minimum.
If they agree to plea to just the straight possession of child pornography, we will not charge that 5-year minimum charge.
In addition to the distribution, if you tell someone — if you're communicating with a minor and they catch you doing that, and you have that minor send you child pornography — that can be production of child pornography.
That has a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence. So, that really starts to give you an idea of some of the charges these guys can come up with regarding child pornography.
Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer
The bottom line is this. The legislature — the government, society, judges, prosecutors — they've all decided that exploitation of children in any form — especially causing them to be involved in child pornography — is one of the worst things that somebody can do.
Because it's not just a bad thing for our society, but it's a bad thing for that particular child, and that child will be scarred for life from the perspective of the government.
So, therefore they give some very harsh punishment, and there's really no one to champion a would-be defendant's rights, so it's obviously up to your defense attorney to protect you, to champion your rights.
You need a lawyer to make the right arguments on your behalf; otherwise, you will get steamrolled over by the federal government when it comes to a child pornography-related prosecution. So, if you need help with one of these cases, pick up the phone now. Make the call. I stand at the ready to assist you.
Hedding Law Firm is a top-rated criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our office for a free case consultation (213) 542-0994.