In Los Angeles, child pornography charges can be prosecuted in state court or federal court. Federal law allows you to be charged for producing, distributing, or simply possessing child pornography. Federal prosecutors tend to be well prepared, and federal charges carry severe penalties.
If you have been charged, you need to speak to a federal child pornography lawyer in Los Angeles. Our legal team understands how computer data, browsing history, and sting operations are used in child pornography cases. We also know how to build a defense that will hold up in court.
If you are facing charges, fill out the form to the right or give us a call to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.
What Federal Charges Can I Face for Alleged Child Pornography?
The United States Code prohibits any possession, receipt, distribution, copying, or advertising of images containing sexual portrayals of minors. In this context, “minors” include anyone under the age of 18.
Most federal pornography cases are prosecuted under 18 USC §2251 (sexual exploitation of minors) or 18 USC §2252 (material depicting the sexual exploitation of minors). However, there are a variety of specific charges that can be brought under different federal laws.
Some of the most common charges related to child pornography include:
- Possession of child pornography
- Distribution and receipt of pornographic images
- Importation of child pornography from a foreign country
- Production of child pornography
- Sexual exploitation of a child or minor (often added on top of production of child pornography)
- Transporting a minor across state lines for purposes of production of child pornography
- Charges involving soliciting a minor for sex, transporting a minor for sex, or kidnapping a minor for sex
For a free legal consultation with a federal child pornography lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 896-2723
What Makes Federal Child Pornography Charges Different From State Charges?
Many child pornography cases start out as investigations by local or state-level authorities but develop into federal inquiries. The rise to the federal level is because local law enforcement often lacks the dedicated cyber teams to properly investigate child pornography cases. They may ask the FBI or other federal agencies for help.
The FBI is the most common federal agency we see handling these cases. Once feds are involved, the charges filed are almost always federal. Federal cases are different in several ways, including that:
- Your case will be in federal court rather than the Los Angeles Superior Court.
- The penalties may be more severe.
- The prosecutor is backed by a thorough investigation from an agency like the FBI, which has the resources to build a strong case.
As a result, prosecution rates are high. Defendants who win their cases typically hire experienced Los Angeles federal crime lawyer. A regular criminal defense attorney without federal experience will not bring the same level of knowledge to the case. If you have been arrested for a federal child pornography charge, in addition to federal prosecution, you may be tried at the state level as well.
Los Angeles Federal Child Pornography Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
What About “Sexting” with a Teenager?
This relatively new form of sexual exchange is a difficult area for the law. Sexting, including sending naked pictures, has become very common among teenagers. In some cases, teens also send sexual photos unsolicited, even when no relationship exists.
Unfortunately, sexting can be construed as distributing child pornography. Simply receiving the picture can count as possession of child pornography. The same is true of videos, which can also count as producing child pornography.
Law enforcement understands this, and it has become normal to seize and search the phone of anyone arrested for child pornography. Law enforcement does not show mercy just because the pictures were sent voluntarily or even unsolicited.
What if Law Enforcement Seized My Computer or Phone or Say They Tracked My Activity Online?
Seizing a computer is common, and it usually means they will perform forensic research on the device(s). In many cases, this will allow them to turn up traces of files you thought were deleted. Law enforcement, especially the FBI, will put substantial resources into reconstructing exactly what images, videos, or other files you may have had on your devices along with the websites you visited.
In general, law enforcement can only verify your browsing history if they have one of your devices in their custody, but this is not always true. There are situations where they may confirm that your IP address (which identifies your device) visited a certain site. Doing so is especially possible if they subpoena data from the website, the site’s hosting company, or an internet service provider.
Be aware that, unfortunately, devices may not be returned ever or may not be in the same working condition when they are returned. Even in a best-case scenario, you will be without the device for months. Today, almost all child pornography cases involve computer evidence, therefore it is critical to have a lawyer with experience in this kind of case.
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What Are the Penalties for Federal Child Pornography Charges?
It depends on the charge and the circumstances. However, penalties generally include all of the following:
- Prison time
- Large fines
- Registration as a sex offender
The lowest-level child pornography crime you could face in federal court is possessing or accessing with the intent to view child pornography under 18 USC §2252(a)(4). There is no minimum sentence for this crime.
However, the federal sentencing guidelines for child pornography are very high. They usually recommend a sentence near the ten-year maximum for this charge.
With any child pornography charge, there is the potential for a sentencing increase. Things that could potentially raise the minimum and maximum sentences include:
- If the child is prepubescent or under age 12
- If you are a repeat offender
- If the minor was abused or harmed
- If the images are sadistic or violent
These conditions can potentially increase the sentencing for even a more mild child pornography charge to life in prison. In addition to criminal charges, the victims (the child or their family) may choose to sue you for damages in civil court.
Potential Defenses Against a Child Pornography Charge
There are many defenses that may fit your situation if you are facing a child pornography charge. Your federal child pornography defense lawyer will review your case and advise you of your best options for moving forward. Some of the most common defenses against child pornography charges include:
- Unintentional possession
- No possession of child pornography
- Illegal search and seizure
This defense is used in many child pornography cases where all of the material was digital. This defense acknowledges the existence of the pornography. However, it states that you did not consent for the pornography to be in your possession.
Unintentional possession can happen in many ways. Sometimes files can be placed on your computer without you even knowing it, especially when you don’t keep strong security precautions on your device. This is a way for other people to store their pornography on your computer or phone without your knowledge, to cover their own tracks. Often these images are placed on computers by an unknown hacker.
People will sometimes upload child pornography onto another person’s device and then tip the police as a form of revenge. In other cases, a website you visited may install malware on your site, or a file you downloaded (especially from file-sharing/torrent services) may contain lots of other data of which you weren’t aware. There are other cases where entire collections of child pornography have ended up on someone’s computer without their knowledge, and the FBI tracked it to the computer owner – not the person who put it there.
It is not illegal to be the victim of malware or hackers, but you have to be able to provide evidence. Experienced lawyers have cyber professionals to whom they can turn to build this kind of defense.
No Possession at All
The prosecution must prove that the images depict a person or persons under the age of eighteen to convict you of this charge. If they can not prove this, then you can not be found guilty of possessing child pornography.
Additionally, images of minors used for scientific, religious, or educational purposes are not considered pornography.
In rare cases, a defendant may also be able to claim that the material in question is of a minor to whom they were married at the time. The defendant must not be more than two years older than the subject of the material.
Illegal Search and Seizure
If the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights and performed an illegal search and seizure, you may be able to get the charges against you dropped. Authorities are not allowed to search your person or private property without probable cause or an official search warrant.
Evidence obtained through an illegal search and seizure, or which is not properly handled through the official chain of custody, can result in the evidence being suppressed. In some situations, it may result in your case being thrown out altogether.
Talk to a Federal Child Pornography Lawyer in Los Angeles Today for Free
The feds do not spare any resources in prosecuting child pornography cases. Even a single conviction can ruin an entire life. Let the Simmrin Law Group be your heavy hitter.
Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today. One of our Los Angeles federal child pornography lawyers will review your case and advise you of your legal options. We will then begin to build your defense so you can hopefully avoid the lifelong consequences of a conviction.