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Rhode Island Federal Child Pornography Charges

You do not need to fight your federal child pornography charges alone.  Our highly skilled Rhode Island 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 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); 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 for federal Rhode Island child pornography charges, it is important to seek experienced legal advice as soon as possible.  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.

Rhode Island Federal Child Pornography Defense Lawyers
Attorneys Barrett, Marin and Parrillo
Contact Us Today to Start Fighting Back - Available 24/7 at 401-380-6724

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, 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 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”

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, receipt of and transfer of child pornography, primarily through the use of a computer/cellphone/tablet and the Internet.  However, there are other provisions that can result in federal charges.

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;
  • 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 the State of Rhode Island, Section 11-9-3 makes it a crime to knowingly produce any child pornography; knowingly mail, transport or transfer by any means, including by computer, any child pornography; knowingly reproduce any child pornography by any means, including the computer: or knowingly possess any book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, computer disk, computer file, or any other material that contains an image of child pornography. 

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 make 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 child pornography begin at the state/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/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 resulting prosecution will be on the federal level.

Can you go to jail for federal child pornography charges in Rhode Island?

Yes.  Unlike state courts where prison is seldom part of a sentence, prosecution by Department of Justice attorneys routinely results in 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, and distribution 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 minimum 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 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 imprisonment.

What are the Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island Federal Child Pornography Defense Lawyer?

There are defense and strategies to child pornography cases.  In fact, a skilled 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); or perhaps the defendant made a good faith effort to destroy or report the presence of child pornography.

If you have been arrested or indicted in Rhode Island 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 and knowledge to work for you right away.

Kensley Barrett

Our law firm was founded on the belief that working with us is more than just hiring a lawyer. Working with us will bring you peace of mind and also allow you to continue with your regular life while we attend to your legal matters. Our vast experience means that it allows us to excel in both aggressively representing your interests and generating the best possible result for you.