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DC Federal Child Pornography Laws

A child is defined as a person under the age of 18. Child pornography is a visual depiction of a minor child engaged in sexually explicit conduct. When a person faces child pornography charges, they should contact an attorney as soon as they are aware they are under investigation. In accordance with DC federal child pornography laws, there are severe consequences for child pornography offenses. An experienced child pornography lawyer could devote the time and resources necessary to achieve a  positive outcome for those who have been charged.

Federal Laws Concerning Child Pornography

The DC federal child pornography laws that address child pornography are possession of child pornography and receipt of child pornography. There is not much of a difference between possessing child pornography and receiving it because if a person possesses the images, the theory is that they received it at some point. Receipt typically refers to downloading the images. Possession is when the item is in the person’s possession or it is in a place where they have the power and the intent to control that possession.

The difference between the two is that a charge of receipt of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for each image that is received. Possession of child pornography does not have a mandatory minimum prison sentence associated with it. For plea negotiation purposes, avoiding a receipt of child pornography charge is most important because a person wants to avoid the five-year mandatory minimum sentence.

How Do Charges Differ if the Defendant is also a Minor?

When the defendant is a minor, they do not get charged in federal court because federal prosecutors do not deal with minors. They are most likely charged in juvenile court on a state court level in the jurisdiction in which they live.

Distinguishing Child Pornography from Other Sex Crimes

The difference between child pornography cases and other sex crime cases is that child pornography occurs most often online. Undercover operations deal with child pornography. When there is a charge of production of child pornography, it is generally not charged in federal court even though the charge does exist. While relatively rare, these charges usually do not involve the government bringing in any witnesses.

In a possession case, if the government can find the child depicted in the image, they might seek to do so. However, that is not the norm. Child pornography cases are not witness-based cases. They rely more on forensics and computer forensic techniques to build the cases. When undercover officers are used, they are typically online.

Enforcing Child Pornography Laws

Child pornography is an enforcement priority under DC federal child pornography laws. Law enforcement agents are extremely aggressive in trying to combat child pornography. Watchdog agencies such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) deal with missing and exploited children. If they are monitoring online and the organizations see what they believe is an image of child pornography, they can download the person’s IP address and report that to law enforcement.

Impact of Location on Child Pornography Law

A person’s location does not really matter because federal law for child pornography covers the United States and its territories. As an example, if someone in Massachusetts downloads an image of child pornography, they can be charged with possession and/or receipt of child of pornography in the District of Massachusetts. A person does not have to cross state lines to be charged with possession or receipt of child pornography.

Consulting a DC Federal Child Pornography Lawyer

If an individual faces child pornography charges, they should consult a skilled federal child pornography lawyer. The penalties are quite severe and include the collateral consequences of registration, sex offender treatment, restrictions on where a person can live, and where they can go to school. A person might also be restricted from accessing federal and state benefits if they are convicted of child pornography charges. It is critical that a person facing these charges contacts a lawyer who is knowledgeable about DC federal child pornography laws and could pursue a positive outcome for them.

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