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First-Time Child Pornography Offenders and Sentencing Issues

On behalf of Kenneth Krebs of Law Offices of Karlstrom & Krebs posted in Criminal Defense on Tuesday, September 23, 2014.

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