Federal Child Pornography Laws

Michigan residents are often prosecuted for child pornography crimes under federal law in either the Eastern or Western Federal District Courts. The federal prosecution could be in addition to or in place of any state prosecution. In most cases, a federal prosecution will occur instead of a state prosecution. State and federal prosecutors are working under two separate jurisdictions and two separate sets of child porn laws. As a rule, the federal cases will come with harsher sentences. Therefore, all federal pornography cases need to be aggressively defended.

Does federal jurisdiction exist?

Before the federal government can get involved there must be some facts to suggest that federal jurisdiction exists.
Federal jurisdiction exists in many situations, two of which are when the U.S. mail system is used to commit a crime and when interstate commerce (the internet) is part of the commission of a crime. These two situations cover most child pornography offenses, which is why it is typical to see federal prosecutions of child porn cases. Local prosecutors often request that the US Attorney’s office pick up a case when there are a large number of images or a substantial amount of activity to prosecute.

Under federal law, child pornography is basically defined as a visual depiction of a minor engaging in graphic or simulated sexual intercourse (including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal) that exhibits the genitals, breast, or pubic area or any person, or graphic or simulated bestiality, masturbation, or sadistic or masochistic abuse, or graphic or simulated exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person. Similar to Michigan law, federal law criminalizes fake computer-generated images, so long as the image is what appears to be of a minor engaging in the above-listed sexual acts.

Penalties for Federal Child Pornography Convictions

Penalties for federal child pornography charges depend upon what the defendant was accused of doing:

  • If the federal prosecutors accuse the defendant of knowingly mailing, transporting, shipping, receiving, distributing, reproducing, advertising, promoting, presenting, distributing, soliciting, selling, possessing with the intent to sell, distributing, providing to a minor, offering, or sending any child pornography, the defendant will face 5 to 20 years in prison and a mandatory fine for a first offense and 15 to 40 years in prison and a mandatory fine for a second or subsequent sex offense.
  • If the federal prosecutors accuse the defendant of knowingly possessing or accessing with the intent to view any child pornography, the defendant will face up to 10 years in prison and an optional fine for a first offense and 10 to 20 years and a mandatory fine for a second offense.
  • If the federal prosecutors accuse the defendant of knowingly possessing accessing with the intent to view any visual depiction involved in the offense where there is a prepubescent minor or a minor who had not attained 12 years of age, the defendant shall be fined and imprisoned for not more than 20 years.
  • If the federal prosecutors accuse the defendant of knowingly possessing with the intent to distribute any child pornography that is a modified depiction of an identifiable minor, the defendant will face up to 15 years in prison and an optional fine.

How can a Federal Pornography Case be Defended?

Defenses in a Federal Pornography Case can be complicated. Our experienced and effective attorneys look carefully at the manner in which the evidence was obtained by the government. We often find constitutional challenges based upon the conduct of over-zealous law enforcement personnel. These often include suggestions of entrapment, violations of the privileges given by the 4th amendment, 5th amendment, and 6th amendment. We also work closely with computer experts when computers or digital image storage devices are involved. The mission is to leave no stone unturned in finding a defense for a client. Some attorneys assume that there are no defenses to a pornography case. Our experience is that attorneys who know how to look for defenses find them.

Finding a Lawyer

When choosing an attorney for the defense of federal child pornography charges, it is important to look at that attorney’s experience in these types of cases. Not all Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys are licensed to practice in Federal Court. We have attorneys licensed in the Eastern and Western District Courts, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court. We also have regular contact with state of the art computer forensic expert witnesses who can review the technical data. There is too much at stake to leave this to chance. Contact Kronzek & Cronkright, PLLC for a free initial consultation with an experienced attorney familiar with federal prosecutions.

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