Under the provisions of the U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography, the
law defines and reserves the right to prosecute any individuals who engage
in the viewing, sharing, downloading or production of a "visual depiction
of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor." Criminal charges
related to child pornography are serious and can result in an individual
facing prosecution under both state and federal laws.
A recent child pornography case dealt with a man who was convicted of "knowingly
receiving a visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct."
In his defense, the man insisted he had either accidently downloaded the
files or was the victim of a hacker who downloaded or transferred the
files to his personal computer.
In the initial trial the district judge allowed the prosecution to introduce
information related to videos that were alleged to contain child pornography
to the court and jury. The videos, however, were not considered as evidence
when bringing charges against the man. While the judge limited the introduction
and reference to the videos, the defense contended any evidence related
to or reference to the noncharged videos should not be allowed.
Despite a lack of evidence that the defendant downloaded or watched the
videos in question, a jury found him guilty and sentenced the first-time
offender to serve 10years in prison. While the appellate court upheld
the lower court's handling of the case and conviction, concerns were
raised over the lengthy prison sentence.
One judge expressed concerns that long prison sentences for first-time
child pornography offenders serve to "create another class of people
with ruined lives - victims of serious mental illness who society should
instead attempt to treat in a constructive and humane manner."
Individuals facing sex crimes charges related to child pornography would
be wise to secure a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The
penalties associated with possession or distribution of child pornography
are harsh and can result in an individual spending years in prison and
having to register as a sex offender.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "
Child-Porn Sentencing Questioned by Judges," Dave Tartre, Sep. 5, 2014