You do not need to fight your federal child pornography charges and the United States government alone. Our highly skilled Massachusetts Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys at Marin and Barrett, Inc. are here to help you fight your child pornography charges using time tested and proven defenses and strategies. It's true, there are defense and strategies to handling criminal child pornography charges. In fact, a skilled MA federal criminal defense attorney can raise the defense of lack of knowledge (perhaps the defendant did not have exclusive control over a computer/phone/hard drive where the child pornography was found); insufficient evidence (perhaps the age of the individuals depicted is indeterminable); a stale or old search warrant; or perhaps the defendant made a good faith effort to destroy or report the presence of child pornography.
If you have been arrested, indicted, or are under investigation by law enforcement officials with the United States government regarding federal Massachusetts child pornography charges, it is important to seek experienced legal advice as soon as possible. Whether you are facing one count of possession or a count of distribution or dissemination of child pornography, our experienced federal criminal defense attorneys will meet with you and confidentially discuss the facts of your case, any legal or constitutional defenses you may have and your best strategy going forward. We have handled similar cases and can put our experience and knowledge to work for you right away before your initial appearance before the Federal District Court in Boston.
Massachusetts Federal Child Pornography Defense Lawyers
Attorneys Barrett, Marin and Parrillo
Contact Us Today to Start Fighting Back - Available 24/7 at 857-229-2442
What is child pornography under federal law?
Under 18 U.S.C. Section 2256, child pornography is defined as as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). Visual depictions include photographs, videos of child pornography, digital or computer generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor, and images created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor. Electronically stored data that can be converted into a visual image of child pornography is also deemed illegal visual depictions under federal law.
Notably, the legal definition of sexually explicit conduct does not require that an image depict a child engaging in sexual activity. A picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive. Additionally, the age of consent for sexual activity and sexual conduct in a given state is irrelevant; any depiction of a minor less than 18 years of age engaging in sexually explicit conduct is illegal. This is notable for situations arising out of “sexting” activity.
What are the types of federal charges that a person can face for child pornography?
There are many types of acts involving the sexual exploitation of children that can be federally prosecuted. The types of crimes that gather the attention of federal law enforcement agencies and result in prosecution are trafficking, possession of child pornography, receipt of and transfer of child pornography, primarily through the use of computers, cellphones, tablets and the Internet. However, there are other provisions that can result in a federal criminal complaint being filed.
Under federal law, 18 U.S.C Sections 2251-2260 deals with sexual exploitation of children contains several subsections including:
- Sexual exploitation of a minor by production of sexually explicit visual or printed material;
- Custodian permitting minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct;
- Advertisement for minors to engage in production or sexual intercourse;
- Selling or buying of children for use in the production of child pornography;
What is the difference between federal charges for child pornography and state charges for child pornography?
State statutes on child pornography are typically identical to federal statues on child pornography. In Massachusetts, MGL Chapter 272, section 29C - Possession of Child Pornography provides that whoever knowingly purchases or possesses a negative, slide, book, magazine, film, videotape, photograph or other similar visual reproduction, or depiction by computer, of any child whom the person knows or reasonably should know to be under the age of 18 years of age and such child is engaging in a sexual act is guilty of this offense.
In comparison, federal law (18 U.S.C. Section 2252 and Section 2252A) makes it a crime to knowingly mail, transport, or ship (via any means of interstate commerce – i.e. the Internet) any child pornography; or knowingly receive/distribute child pornography using any means of interstate commerce; or knowingly reproduce child pornography for distribution through mail or interstate commerce; or knowingly advertise, promote, present, or solicit through mail or interstate commerce (including by computer/Internet) any material or purported material in a manner that reflects the belief (or that is intended to cause another to believe) that the material or purported material is/contains an obscene visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct or a visual depiction of an actual minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
Further, federal law makes it a crime to:
knowingly possesses, or knowingly accesses with intent to view, any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, computer disk, or any other material that contains an image of child pornography that has been mailed, or shipped or transported 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 that was produced using materials that have been mailed, or shipped or transported in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce by any means, including by computer.
As you can see from the state statute and federal statute both criminalize possession, transfer, distribution, and production of child pornography. One of the key differences is the use of interstate commerce in regards to how the child pornography was transferred, distributed, produced, or how it came to be possessed.
Why are some prosecutions for child pornography conducted by the state versus federal prosecutions?
Most often, criminal investigations of a child pornography possession charge begin at the state and local level. Local law enforcement agencies receive tips from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC) regarding possible criminal activity related to the sexual exploitation of children through the Internet. These investigations sometimes develop into federal cases, particularly in situations where local and state agencies request assistance from federal agencies (such as the FBI or Department of Homeland Security) that may have superior dedicated cyber resources.
Also, some investigations into child pornography result in federal prosecutions due to stings by federal law enforcement agencies involving multiple persons in different states/jurisdictions. If a federal law enforcement agency such as the FBI is the investigating agency then there is a high probability that the case will result in a federal charge and be prosecution will be on the federal level.
Can you go to jail for federal child pornography charges in Massachusetts?
Yes. Unlike state courts where prison time is seldom part of a sentence, prosecution by Department of Justice attorneys routinely results in federal prison sentences for persons convicted of child pornography.
Is child pornography protected speech under the First Amendment?
No. Images of child pornography are not protected under First Amendment rights, and are illegal contraband under federal law.
How do you prove the different types of federal child pornography crimes?
The US Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual knowingly produced, distributed, received and or possessed an image of child pornography using any means or facility of interstate commerce.
Are federal child pornography charges a felony?
Yes, possession, production, distribution of child pornography, and dissemination of child pornography are federal felony crimes, which means that they both carry maximum prison sentences greater than one year.
How long do you go to jail for federal child pornography charges?
Any violation of federal child pornography law is a serious crime, and convicted offenders face severe statutory penalties. For example, a first time offender convicted of producing child pornography face fines and a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years to 30 years maximum in prison. A first time offender convicted of transporting child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce faces fines and a statutory mandatory minimum of 5 years to 20 years maximum in prison.
Convicted offenders may face harsher penalties if the offender has prior convictions or if the child pornography offense occurred in aggravated situations defined as (i) the images are violent, sadistic, or masochistic in nature, (ii) the minor was sexually abused, or (iii) the offender has prior convictions for child sexual exploitation. In these circumstances, a convicted offender may face up to life in prison and sex offender registration.
What are the Massachusetts Federal Child Pornography Laws?
The federal statutes relating to child pornography include:
- 18 U.S.C. Section 2251 - Sexual Exploitation of Children
Production of child pornography
- 18 U.S.C. Section 2251A - Selling and Buying of Children
- 18 U.S.C. Section 2252 - Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors
Possession, distribution and receipt of child pornography
- 18 U.S.C. Section 2252A- certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography
Should I Hire a Boston Federal Child Pornography Lawyer?
There are defense and strategies to child pornography cases. In fact, a skilled federal MA criminal defense attorney can raise the defense of lack of knowledge (perhaps the defendant did not have exclusive control over a computer, phone, hard drive where the child pornography was found); insufficient evidence (perhaps the age of the individuals depicted is indeterminable); or perhaps the defendant made a good faith effort to destroy or report the presence of child pornography.
Massachusetts Federal Child Pornography Lawyer
If you have been arrested or indicted in Massachusetts for child pornography, it is important to seek experienced legal advice as soon as possible. Our experienced federal defense attorneys will meet with you and confidentially discuss the facts of your case, any legal or constitutional defenses you may have and your best strategy going forward. We have handled numerous cases and can put our experience as a criminal defense lawyer and knowledge to work for you right away. Call us today at 857-229-2442.