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DC Child Pornography Lawyer

Child pornography crimes such as possession, distribution, or production in Washington DC can be prosecuted in either DC Superior Court or federally in U.S. District Court. Other associated crimes can include aggravated sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children, human trafficking for the purposes of child prostitution or creating child pornography, and sexual abuse of a minor. If you are facing child pornography charges in DC or federal court, it may be in your best interest to contact a DC child pornography lawyer as soon as possible. Let an accomplished defense attorney fight for you.

DC Child Pornography Charges

DC and federal law are very similar when it comes to classifying and prosecuting child pornography. Under each, it is unlawful to ”produce, distribute, receive, or possess of an image of child pornography” (that is, depicting a minor who is less than 18 years of age). Child pornography charges often involve evidence of online activity, computer data, and the use of undercover agents posing as dealers or buyers online. For this reason, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable child pornography attorney who has experience dealing with these charges in DC and federal court.

It is also illegal to “persuade, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct with the intention of producing visual depictions of that conduct.” Here is more information on federal child enticement charges.

Child Pornography Penalties in DC

All suspects who are convicted in DC Superior Court of any child pornography violation according to the D.C. Code Section 22-3103  can be subject to the following penalties:

  • For a first offense, imprisonment for not more than 10 years and/or a fine
  • For a second and subsequent offense(s), imprisonment for not more than 20 years and/or a fine

Aggravated offenses associated with these crimes can add further enhancements to a jail or prison sentence. Therefore, it is critical to contact an attorney who has experience building a child pornography defense.

Hiring a DC Child Pornography Lawyer

Because many child pornography charges are felonies, a conviction can result in the revocation of certain rights, such as the right to vote, own a firearm, or qualify for federal assistance.  Foreign aliens who are convicted of these crimes could lose their right to reside on U.S. soil and be subsequently deported. Due to these potentially severe consequences, it is important that those accused contact a DC child pornography lawyer as soon as possible so that they can review the facts of the case.

What is “Sexting”, and How does it Fall Under DC Child Pornography Laws?

The popularity of texting sexual content has exploded in the past few years. But the practice of teens sending nude or pornographic images to others in their social circle is drawing the serious attention of law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels. Technically, sexting can be charged as the distribution of child pornography. This makes it both a federal [18 U.S. Code Section 2252] and a local (when in DC) crime [D.C. Code Section 22-3102].

The Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act (FJDA) states that, whenever possible, juveniles should be prosecuted in state—not federal—courts. [18 U.S. Code Section 5032].

As a DC child pornography lawyer could further explain, DC juvenile court judges have great discretion in handing down penalties based on the circumstances of a crime.  These penalties can include:

  • Fines
  • Consent Decrees
  • Home confinement
  • Juvenile detention for a minimum period, and then probation for the duration of the sentence
  • Court-mandated counseling
  • Community service
  • Probation

What is a Federal Child Pornography Charge, Specifically in DC?

Federal law prohibits “possession, receipt, distribution, copying, or advertising of images containing sexual portrayals of minors” (defined as less than 18 years of age) [18 U.S. Code Section 2251, 2252 and 2256].  There are potential mandatory sentences for those convicted of many “child porn” charges.  It is also not unusual for enhancements involving related federal offenses to be added to the indictment. A federal child pornography lawyer in DC could help explain how these enhancements may affect your case and potential penalties.

Penalties for Federal Child Pornography Charges

Imprisonment and fines may very well await those convicted of federal child pornography laws. Registration as a sex offender is mandatory for those convicted of any form of child pornography [42 U.S. Code Chapter 151(1)]. Depending on the seriousness of the charge for which someone is convicted, they could remain on the registry for the remainder of their life. Victims may also be entitled to sue those convicted for civil damages [18 U.S. Code Section 2255]. As well, investigators may seek to seize any computers (and files) that are suspected of being connected with child pornography. Even if a suspect is acquitted or is not charged, there is no guarantee the property will be returned or what state it will be in once it is released.

Common Federal Child Pornography Charges:

  • Possession of child pornography
  • Conspiracy
  • Distribution, and receipt of pornographic images
  • Importation of child pornography from a foreign country
  • Production of child pornography
  • Solicitation of a minor for sex, whether online or in-person
  • Transporting a minor across state lines for purposes of production of child pornography
  • Sexual exploitation of a child or minor
  • Selling, buying, or trafficking of minors from overseas and between states for sex
  • The kidnapping of a minor for sex

Though many child pornography cases begin as local or state investigations, they can rapidly escalate into federal criminal investigations if any of the following statutes fit the crime:

  • Conspiracy [18 U.S.C. Section 371]
  • Human Trafficking [22 U.S. Code Chapter 78]
  • Kidnapping for the purposes of creating child pornography [18 U.S. Code Section 1201]
  • Money laundering [18 U.S. Code Section 1956]
  • Child prostitution [18 U.S. Code Section 2252] see above
  • And other federal charges

Federal prosecution for child pornography offenses usually has the prospect of more serious penalties and fines than commonly found in most states. The rules of evidence are more favorable for federal prosecutors. Here is information on the related federal charge of child enticement:

Affirmative Defenses to Federal Child Pornography Charges

Those who are suspected or charged with child pornography charges could be innocent victims of the distribution of these illegal materials rather than involved in a crime. Often, such images can make their way onto an innocent person’s computer or mobile device without their knowledge especially if they are not well-versed in internet security protocols or don’t regularly scan for viruses or malware.

“Infection” can also occur through what appears to be harmless web links. Sometimes, large collections of images can be downloaded in bulk with the user being totally unaware that it happened.  Someone else might use a person’s computer in order to view child pornography without being detected themselves. And even if these files are found and deleted, there is no guarantee that some federal forensic computer experts will not find remaining traces of these images on a hard drive.

A DC federal child pornography lawyer will have experience with cases involving the technical aspects of such evidence, and they can draw on this experience to help build a strong defense for the defendant.

Federal Child Pornography Sentencing

Federal sentencing guidelines often use the number of images, how the defendant obtained them, and what was done with the images in arriving at an appropriate sentence if someone is convicted. According to 18 U.S. Code Section 2251 and 2252, convicted defendants can be forced to pay fines of up to $250,000 and receive the following prison sentences:

  • Possession, distribution, and receipt of child porn images: a minimum of five, and as much as 20 years in federal prison may be rendered
  • Importation of child pornography: a minimum of five and up to 10 years in federal prison
  • Production of child pornography: a minimum of ten and up to 15 – 30 years in federal prison
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