Crime Overview Child Pornography

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Under federal law, child pornography is defined as any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct where: the production of the visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or the visual depiction is a digital imagine, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or the visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Child pornography is a crime that includes the act of producing pornographic materials, the sale or trafficking of such materials, and the possession of such materials. Regardless of the age of majority in your state, the federal definition of a child is a person under the age of 18. While some may be concerned about pictures of unclothed children, not all pictures of this type are considered pornography. The child must be placed in a sexualized situation, or engaging in sexual conduct.

With the advancement of the Internet and the international and seemingly anonymous nature of communication and content, child pornography has been on the increase. The Department of Justice, along with the F.B.I., the U.S. Customs Service and the Postal Inspection Service are all federal agencies working to combat child pornography.

Child pornography is an exploitation of a child and is considered a form of child abuse. While most child abuse cases are handled on a state level, child pornography is frequently a federal issue. Child pornography falls under federal jurisdiction because often the pornographic images or the materials used therein are transported across state lines. This includes the electronic transmission of pornographic images across state lines. Furthermore, mailing child pornography is also a federal offense even if it does not cross state lines. However, the prosecution of people possessing, trafficking or producing child pornography can be done through the state in addition to, or instead of, through federal court.

Child pornography is a federal crime. An individual must knowingly posses, manufacture, distribute, or access with intent to view child pornography. In addition, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws criminalizing the possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography.

Congress recently increased sentencing guidelines and mandates for child pornography crimes. Prison terms can be lengthy, and if the accused was previously convicted of a child exploitation crime, a life sentence can be issued. For example, for the production of child pornography, the sentencing is a mandatory minimum of 15 years, with a maximum of 30. If you are convicted of buying or selling children for sexual exploitation, it is a minimum of 30 years, with a possibility of a life sentence. Possession or distribution of child pornography has a mandatory minimum of a five-year sentence, with a maximum of 20 years. If convicted of child pornography, you will be a registered sex offender.

The federal government has worked on coordinating its efforts with regard to child pornography, resulting in a law enforcement focus on a national level. A United States Attorney can prosecute federal child pornography cases. Criminal defense attorneys experienced in the area of child pornography or exploitation defense are available nationwide to assist persons charged with child pornography crimes.