18 U.S.C. § 2252 - Federal Child Pornography
Child pornography cases on the internet have come into play over the course of the last decade because of the internet and exploit young children and not get caught.
Unfortunately, it's very difficult even or the feds to track the main culprits who are actually creating and producing child pornography, so what they end up doing is going after the people who are viewing the child pornography.
Anyone found possessing, producing, selling or distributing any material depicting a child under 18 years of age in a sexual manner, they may be charged with child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2252. A lot of times I hear clients saying it doesn't really seem fair why they would be arresting and charging and trying to send them to prison versus trying to target and got after the suppliers of child pornography.
Targeting People Who View Child Pornography Images
The problem is, since they can't catch those other individuals, they need to catch somebody and they also figure that if they can get rid of the people who are viewing it, then they'll no longer be a market for child pornography.
And particularly in Los Angeles, there's hundreds of arrests each year for child pornography because of Los Angeles being such a highly dense population, it seems that there's a huge percentage of child pornography cases that are filed in the Central District of LA, and of course, I've represented a number of different clients so I have a pretty good feel for how they investigate and prosecute these cases, and then in turn, obviously how to try and defend them.
Really what they do is they will take over websites, take over chatroom's and then the feds will communicate with those individuals who are trying to get child pornography. See United States federal laws on child pornography.
That's one way that they're able to connect with those people and end up arresting them for either seeking child pornography, obtaining child pornography or even trying to meet with children from conversations over the internet. Those are usually handled much more serious than individuals who simply look at the child pornography or download it to view it.
So, the feds have been very successful at infiltrating some of these shared apps and various other entities that are involved with child pornography. They also have a good relationship with social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram and some of these other companies.
Downloading Child Pornography
For example, like Microsoft who are being used a filters for the supplier of the child pornography and then the user who's downloading the child pornography. They usually keep tabs and they will send information to the federal government about those individuals who are involved with child pornography.
Then what the feds end up doing, if they get a search warrant, they come, they knock on the person's door, knock the person's door down, get into the location with a multi-task force of federal agents and state agents.
They seize a person's laptop. They seize their tablets, their phones, and then they catch the off-guard and take a statement from them knowing that one potential defense to possession of child pornography in Los Angeles is that the information on the computer you didn't have to do with getting on there and somebody else must have done it.
They get the person to admit a lot of times that that's their computer and that nobody else uses it and then that helps block that defense. They seize the computer. If they're able to look at or download anything right there on the spot they do that.
If they can't, then they have to take it to their forensic people which can usually take a significant amount of time for them to download all of the information.
Typically I get involved with the case pre-filing and I will contact the agents and the prosecutor and let them know that I represent you and obviously try to work with them to minimize the damage to you.
One big thing is I can usually arrange a surrender if they are going to file a case against you and we can just go into court willingly and try to get you out on some sort of a signature or property bond.
Rather than a scenario where a couple of weeks or months later they come, knock your door down again, come to your work, embarrass you in front of your neighbors, take you into custody and now you have to go through that stress and embarrassment, so that's one big thing that a good federal criminal defense attorney can do in the Central District of California, is help get you bailed out in an easy, painless manner.
Obviously, the other thing is to start discussing with the prosecutor a potential favorable resolution versus letting them dictate to us exactly how everything's going to be dealt with. We try to coordinate with them so that we can get a successful outcome if you're charged with possession or distribution of child pornography.
Penalties for Federal Child Pornography Charges
Another big thing in these cases is the amount of images that you possess. Do you just possess photographs or do you also have videos? Usually videos will count as 10 images for purposes of tallying the amount of images that you might have related to federal child pornography.
Another big thing is distribution. If you're distributing child pornography to other people that you're obtaining on the internet, that comes with a 5-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence at 85%. So, obviously the distinction between distribution and possession is huge.
Also, if you're producing child pornography, you could be looking at a 15-year mandatory minimum. We always think about producers as those individuals who are capturing children and forcing them to engage in sexual activities and filming it and putting it on the internet and profiting from it.
That's definitely one way that people are producing child pornography, but another way somebody could produce child pornography is being in contact with a child, have the child send you a photograph of themselves. That would also fall under the umbrella and category of production of child pornography and subject you to the potential 15-year mandatory minimum sentence.
So, those are some of the things that the prosecutors are looking at. Also, they're looking at the type of child pornography that you have. Is it just a picture of a child nude or is extreme violence being done to a child?
There's all sorts of different forms that child pornography can come in. That's another big enhancement that could potentially be charged against an individual when it comes to these child pornography possession/distribution or production cases at the federal level in Los Angeles.
Retain a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer
I've handled many of these cases over the last 26 years — mainly over the last decade — as the internet has become more prevalent and cybercrimes more common the feds have gotten on the internet and started to prosecute people for these particular offenses. So, it's a serious situation.
You want to hire an attorney with experience who knows how to fight these cases, if it's the right case to be fought, and who knows how to negotiate and do damage control if a plea bargain is in your best interest. Pick up the phone. Make the call. We can get the case moving in the right direction.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are also located at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.