Boston Child Pornography Defense Attorney / Massachusetts Child Porn Charges
Child pornography charges carry significant sentences in the federal system, with convictions that can lead to decades in prison.
Child pornography is not protected under the First Amendment, and is defined as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (under 18 years of age). This definition comes from Title 18, Section 2256 of the United States Code. Visual depictions include photographs, videos, undeveloped film and electronically stored data that can be converted into a visual image. Even computer generated images that appear to depict an identifiable minor count as child pornography under federal law.
It is important to note that “sexually explicit conduct” does not require that the image depict a child actually engaging in sexual activity. A naked picture will suffice, if it is sexually suggestive.
Boston Child Pornography Charges
The age of consent for sexual activity may vary state-to-state according to state law. However, any depiction of a person under 18 engaging in sexually explicit conduct is illegal according to federal law.
Most child pornography cases are prosecuted in state courts. With many crimes occurring on computers and the internet, the federal courts have jurisdiction over a vast majority of child pornography charges. The difference in terms of the potential sentences, between state and federal courts is enormous. No defendant wants to end up in federal court for child pornography charges. Even plea deals routinely end in long federal prison sentences.
Federal Child Pornography Laws
There are a number of federal laws relating to child pornography. These include:
Title 18, Section 2251: Prohibits any person from enticing or coercing a minor to engage in, or have anything to do with, child pornography that crosses state lines. Essentially this includes any image that is online.
Title 18, Section 2251A: Prohibits any parent, legal guardian or other person in custody of a minor to buy, sell, or transfer custody of that minor for purposes of producing child pornography.
Title 18, Section 2252: Prohibits certain activities, including knowingly receiving or distributing child pornography by any means that affect interstate commerce. Again, this includes any image that is distributed using the internet.
Title 18, Section 2252A: Prohibits the receiving and distribution of child pornography through the mail and other shipping methods.
Title 18, Section 2260: Prohibits any person outside of the United States from knowingly producing, receiving, transporting, shipping, or distributing child pornography with intent to transmit the visual depiction into the United States.
Punishment for Child Pornography Crimes
The punishment for a conviction will vary, depending on the charges, circumstances, the defendant’s criminal record, and other criteria. One this is for sure: any conviction for child pornography, especially in federal court, will lead to a lengthy prison sentence. For example, a first time offender who is convicted of producing child pornography under Title 18, Section 2251, faces a minimum sentence of 15 years, up to a 30-year maximum federal prison sentence. A first time offender convicted of transporting child pornography under Title 18, Section 2252 faces 5-20 years in federal prison. Previously convicted defendants obviously face harsher penalties. In addition, certain aggravating situations will add years to your sentence: images that are violent, sadistic or masochistic, or if the minor was sexually abused.