Federal Prosecution of Child Pornography – Child Pornography Laws
Are you being charged with breaking federal child pornography laws?
A federal child pornography conviction could result in many years in prison and placement on the sex offender registry for the remainder of your life. It is a serious offense, so you must contact an experienced lawyer with a successful track record handling these federal cases. A seasoned defense lawyer can help you sort through the legal definition of what is considered child pornography so that you can successfully defend yourself.
It is essential for anyone charged with a federal child pornography offense to understand the laws under which they are being charged. Read on to learn more about federal child pornography laws to be more prepared to fight your case. Keep in mind that you should never attempt to defend yourself against child pornography charges without the proper representation of an established attorney.
Federal Child Pornography Laws
Federal statute 18 USC 22521 governs the federal prosecution of child pornography.
To be convicted under child pornography law §2252A, a person must:
- Manufacture or
- Distribute child pornography
The mere viewing of child pornography is not breaking any child pornography laws. For example, anyone who admits to viewing child pornography online cannot be guilty of possession under federal law, provided they do not store the images on their hard drive and are unaware that the images are being stored.
Under California law, child pornography cases are handled similarly.
California penal code 311.112 governs the state prosecution of child pornography. To be convicted, a person must:
- Knowingly possess or control child pornography in any form, and
- Know that the images depict a person under 18 personally engaged in or simulating sexual conduct.
What is considered child pornography?
Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor, anyone less than 18 years old. This includes both simulated or digitally generated images and pornography produced with the actual involvement of the minor. The prohibited pornography may be in the forms of photographs, videos, images, digital downloads, undeveloped film, and electronically stored data. It is important to note that sexual activity in the image is not necessary for it to be considered pornography. Images containing a nude photo of a child that is deemed sexually suggestive may be enough for a child pornography conviction. Additionally, any depiction of a minor engaging in sexual conduct is considered unlawful.
Possession vs. Viewing and the Internet Browser Cache
As stated above, simply viewing child porn does not constitute possession of child pornography according to child pornography laws.
A viable defense to a charge of possession of child pornography is to argue that merely viewing images online does not equate to possession because the images remained in cyberspace and were not under the tangible control of the viewer.
This defense will not be successful if the images have been downloaded to the defendant’s hard drive or another device.
How Your Internet Browser Cache Plays a Role in What is Considered Child Pornography Possession
Every computer has an internet browser cache that automatically saves a copy (commonly called ‘cookies’) of every web page the user visits. This process improves browsing speed by allowing the computer to retrieve the website from the browser cache when the website is revisited. This automatic process in which the computer downloads and stores web pages can be sufficient to prove possession.
However, a defense can be raised on the grounds that the accused is not a sophisticated computer user and is, therefore, unaware of the function and existence of the internet browser cache. A computer user who is unaware of the presence of the internet browser cache, and does not understand that the images viewed were saved automatically to the computer, may be able to use this as a defense successfully.
In short, a person who does not know the images exist on his computer can not exercise dominion and control over the images and thus cannot knowingly possess the images.
The ‘Virtual’ Child Pornography Defense
Another defense involves situations where the images in question do not depict a person under 18. For example, a picture of an adult woman engaging in sexual conduct with a child’s face pasted over the adult’s face is not child pornography. Here the image depicts an adult, not a minor, and thus is not child pornography.
Punishment For Child Pornography
For certain offenses, the federal sentencing guidelines for child pornography are pretty severe and generally require a minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum sentence of 20 years. However, when the defendant has a prior conviction of a sex offense, the minimum penalty is 15 years, and the maximum sentence is 40 years.
Call the Federal Child Porn Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Federal laws are incredibly complex, and it will be difficult to understand the legal process that lies ahead without the help of an experienced federal attorney. With an experienced child porn defense attorney on your side, an aggressive defense will be mounted. Your freedom is at stake, so you need an experienced lawyer who has successfully handled federal child pornography cases.
At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys know how to handle serious federal charges like the ones brought in a child pornography case. Our team also knows what is considered child pornography and the best defense to protect you from a lengthy prison sentence.
For over 40 years, Wallin & Klarich law firm has successfully defended clients accused of child pornography offenses. Our team of experienced attorneys has successfully helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need, and we can help you now.
Call us today at (619) 404-2464 for a free phone consultation about your case. We will get through this together.