18 U.S.C. § 2252 - Federal Child Pornography
18 U.S. Code 2252, certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors law make it a crime to possess, distribute, and transport child pornography.
Child porn is considered a severe federal offense for victimizing children and will generally result in harsh penalties if convicted. The federal child porn law is some of the strictest in the federal court system.
Simply put, child pornography is visual imagery depicting minors under 18 in sexual situations for the purpose of sexual stimulation, including pictures or videos of them engaging in any explicit sexual activity or graphic nudity.
Notably, it's only considered child porn if the person in the images or videos is indistinguishable from an actual child. An ordinary person would conclude the depiction is a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Peer-to-peer networks are also a part of the child porn laws under the federal system. If federal prosecutors can prove you were responsible for distributing child porn online, you face harsh penalties.
Often, people using peer-to-peer networks don't know they are accessing these networks that will open your computer files for downloading. If another network member, or federal agent, can download child porn material from your computer through a network, you might be convicted of child pornography distribution.
If you face any federal offense related to child porn, you must immediately retain an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.
What Does the Law Say?
As noted, 18 U.S. Code 2252 is the primary statute used by federal prosecutors to file charges against someone for activity related to child pornography.
This first category of conduct involves the transportation of child porn across state lines or internationally.
Subsection (a) of Section 2252 defines categories of persons and conduct that are covered by the law, which says, Any person who:
“(1) knowingly transports or ships using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce or in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce by any means including by computer or mails, any visual depiction, if (A) the producing of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; and (B) such visual depiction is of such conduct.
Notably, there is a requirement in subsection (a)(1)(B) that the conduct which appears to be depicted in the visual image at issue actually involves minors. Other notable laws include the following:
- Subsection (a)(3) addresses the sale, or possession with intent to sell, of child porn images;
- Subsection (a)(4) criminalizes the simple possession of child pornography;
- Subsection (a)(3) says offenses must either occur in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
What Are the Penalties for 18 U.S.C. 2252?
Subsection (b) of Section 2252 outlines the penalties for violating the discussed subsections. It says that whoever violates, attempts, or conspires to violate these laws shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for less than five years and not more than 20 years.
A second or subsequent violation is punishable by up to 40 years in federal prison. Mere possession is punishable by a maximum of 10 years, but if any images portray minors under 12, the maximum punishment is increased to 20 years imprisonment.
Convictions for second or subsequent offenses of mere possessions carry 10 to 20 years in federal prison.
Defending Child Porn Cases After the Execution of a Search Warrant
Many call me after the feds have knocked their door down, executed a search warrant at their house, taken all of their devices away from them, and told the authorities about the possession or distribution of child pornography. Now they're facing many years in federal prison and lifetime registration, wondering what happens next.
A bit confusing about the circumstances is that they usually don't arrest you. The reason for that is they want to see what is on your devices, and that will dictate the following:
- whether or not the feds will take the case, or
- kick it down to the state for prosecution.
So, the more videos and child porn you have, the more likely it is that the feds will take the case and prosecute you at that level, which of course, is something you don't want because you're facing much more prison time if the federal government charges you.
So, what we do is go over the case with you. Then, we talk about the strategy moving forward. Sometimes there will be some time while the federal agent goes through your devices.
You're going to be put in a line so a forensic analyst can check your devices to see the following:
- do you have child pornography on there?
- have you deleted child pornography? and
- have you distributed child pornography in any way?
Depending on what they find will dictate if the feds file the case and, if they do, what charges they will file against you. So, we want to get out ahead of it.
What are the Common Mistakes?
There are some mistakes people make who are being investigated or charged with the production of child pornography. If the feds get their hands on the case and can prove it, the person will be looking at a 15-year mandatory minimum in federal prison served at 85%. This gives you an idea of the severe nature of these types of offenses.
So, you don't want to make any mistakes related to the case – whether at the investigative phase or the claim already filed. One of the biggest things I see is people admitting they were involved in the conduct they're being investigated for or charged with. They either admit it to the alleged victim in the case, one of their family members, or worse, the police. You never want to talk to anybody if you know you're being investigated for crimes, let alone something as serious as this.
You want to hire an attorney right away. Go over everything with the attorney. Be honest with them. Tell them exactly what, if any, involvement you might have, and then listen to your attorney's instructions. Don't send text messages, emails, or any other communications to anybody related to a potential prosecution for the production of child pornography.
These cases are pretty easy to prove in some circumstances where somebody is asking a minor to send them some sort of nude photograph. That would suffice for the production of child pornography. Never speak to the police as it involves any crime.
A lot of times, the police will come and try to get you to admit that you're the one who sent or asked for child pornography. They will confirm whatever devices are supposedly being used and try to get you to recognize and acknowledge those are your devices. You're the only one that uses them, and you're the one that sent the child pornography.
Why Do You Need a Federal Criminal Lawyer?
I have you come in, and usually, I'll quote what's called a prefiling fee. You'll retain me, and I will call the feds up. I will see if there's a prosecutor assigned to the case that I can talk to. I will let them know I represent you.
I'll find out what I can about the case and get back to you and let you know where we stand and what we will do moving forward.
When we meet, you must be honest with me about the information they're likely to find on your computers, phones, tablets, or any other devices they seize so we can do what's necessary to defend you moving forward correctly.
I've been defending child pornography cases since the internet has been being utilized to put child pornography on it, and the feds have been prosecuting them.
So, I've been there since the beginning on the ground level. I know what it takes to defend these cases. I know what it takes to win these cases, and I know what it takes to mitigate and negotiate these cases if that's the right thing to do.
That's an important thing we'll have to do regarding child pornography possession, distribution, and production of child pornography. These are severe charges.
So, you want somebody who can help decide as to whether you fight the case or whether you negotiate the case. That's your first step. Once you decide, we plan to execute something that makes sense for you, your life, your career, and your freedom.
You can contact us by phone or through the contact form. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, California.