Federal Child Pornography Charges
The attorneys at Greco Neyland, PC represent clients charged with child pornography under both state and federal law in Manhattan and throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss the case against you.
After a criminal accusation is made, never talk to a law enforcement officer or other type of investigator until after you have secured the services of a qualified attorney to represent you. In many of these cases, the accusations become public after law enforcment officers execute a search warrant to seize computers and other items from a person’s home or business.
Child pornography charges often involve allegations of receipt, possession, copying, advertising, distribution, or production of materials that meet the requirements of depiction of minor children in a sexually explicit manner or some form of communication with a child for the purpose of sexual stimulation.
When a federal prosecutor brings child pornography charges against an individual, they typically perceive links between the person and the criminal activity, whether that is evidence that the person was in control of the computer that was the method for the distribution of the pornography or some other connection. It is important to note that a person can be prosecuted under state child pornography laws in addition to, or instead of, federal law.
Definitions Under the Child Pornography Statutes
Under 18 U.S.C. §2256(8), the term “child pornography” is defined to include a photograph depicting sexually explicit conduct.
Under 18 U.S.C.§ 2256(a), the term “sexually explicit conduct” is defined as actual or simulated (a) sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex; (b) bestiality; (c) masturbation; (d) sadistic or masochistic abuse; or (e) lascivious exhibition of the genitals or public area of any person.
Types of Child Pornography Charges in New York
The two most common child pornography charges are:
- Possession of Child Pornography – Under 18 U.S.C. §2252(A)(a)(5)(B) it is a crime to possess child pornography. Section 2252(A)(b)(2) provides that whoever “violates, or attempts or conspires to violate, subsection (a)(5) shall be…imprisoned not more than ten years….”
- This charge can lead to serious prison time, even for a person who has no criminal record. The prosecutor is going to look at the following factors:
- How many images are in the possession of the accused;
- How many times the individual visited sites that contained child pornography;
- The nature of the images or video; and
- Any communication concerning the child pornography.
- Production of Child Pornography – Under 18 U.S.C. §2251(a) it is a crime to produce or attempt to produce child pornography.
- 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) provides that “[a]ny person who employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any minor to engage in…. any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct or for the purpose of transmitting a live visual depiction of such conduct, shall be punished as provided under subsection (e)….”
- 18 U.S.C. § 2251(e) provide that “[a]ny individual who violates, or attempts to violate, this section shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 15 years nor more than 30 years….”
- Distribution – Taking steps to forward child pornography to another person, regardless of the nature of the action, can lead to distribution charges, which may result in prison time from a mandatory minimum of 5 years and up to 30 years in prison.
Additionally, if a person sends images to a minor that may be deemed obscene, regardless of whether they are child pornography, charges may be filed that can result in a prison sentence of 10 years. If a person entices a minor to participate in the production of child pornography, the potential prison term is 15 to 30 years.
Federal child pornography charges carry serious penalties, including a mandatory minimum five-year prison term for receipt of pornographic images. The prison terms awarded for crimes involving child pornography may be decades long.
In fact, a child pornography conviction where the person has been convicted of a previous charge of child pornography may face a prison term of 40 years. In addition, a person convicted of crimes involving child pornography may face large fines, which may be as much as $250,000, which wreak havoc on a family’s finances, as well as cause a significant stigma that follows a person for a lifetime. If a person is convicted of a crime involving child pornography, then he/she will have to register as a sex offender, for the rest of their natural life.
Defenses to Child Pornography Charges
The defense of a child pornography case involves challenges to the investigative techniques used by the law enforcement officers working with the Assistant United States Attorney who is in charge of the case. The method by which the evidence was collected is critical to the legitimacy of the case.
If the evidence was collected without the benefit of a warrant, then it may be in violation of the Fourth Amendment and therefore inadmissible in court. It is critical to have an attorney who understands how to evaluate the evidence with a critical eye for the legitimacy of the collection efforts. Additionally, a computer forensic specialist will be needed to review the data collected on the hard drive of the accused to determine what digital footprints are present. This could make all the difference in the case at hand.
Some potential defenses include:
- Challenging the searches and seizures of the federal investigators – any violation of the constitutional rights of the accused may lead to the suppression of illegally obtained evidence;
- The federal investigators entrapped the accused into committing the alleged wrongful action – when a person would not have committed any criminal activity but for the actions of the federal government, the government may not be able to prove its case against the accused; or
- There may be some other means by which the pornographic images were in the possession of the accused – this could be the result of some other person’s use of the computer on which images were discovered or even some type of computer virus that results in the automatic downloading of pornographic images. This is where the computer forensic specialist would be needed.
Related charges in New York’s state laws include disseminating indecent materials to a minor, sexual performance by a child, and endangering the welfare of a child.
Additional Information on Child Pornography Laws
Internet Crimes Against Children – The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force has been established with federal funds. The Task Force joins the the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and the New York State Police in an effort to arrest, prosecute, educate, and ultimately prevent crimes against children that are perpetrated via the Internet.
Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography – Visit the website of the United States Department of Justice to find a citizen’s guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography including information on the requirements for federal jurisdiction. Also find information on penalties and punishments imposed in federal courts throughout the United States.
Criminal Defense of Child Pornography in Manhattan
In Manhattan, our office is located a few blocks from the Federal courthouse for the Southern District of New York. Our office is also conveniently located just across the Brooklyn Bridge from the Eastern District of New York’s Federal courthouse. Having these conveniently located offices means we are close to the federal courthouses.
We believe in providing the highest quality representation at a fair and reasonable price. Call us at (212) 951-1300, in order to schedule a free initial consultation. Learn how we can develop the best legal defense based on the facts of your case involving accusations of possession or distribution of child pornography under state or federal law. Call our federal criminal defense lawyers in Manhattan for a free consultation today.