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Child Pornography Charges

Congress has repeatedly increased the sentences for the possession, distribution, and production of child pornography. Possession of one image depicting child pornography carries a mandatory minimum five year prison sentence. Section 2G2.2 of the Sentencing Guidelines outlines the various ways in which that sentence may be enhanced.

Often child pornography investigations involve internet communications with federal agents working undercover. These cases involve complicated computer forensic, search and seizure, and Guideline interpretation issues. These cases require experienced counsel to aggressively litigate these and other issues that often arise.

Coercion and Enticement (2422 A & B)

Federal Child Pornography Defense AttorneyThe FBI has increased its focus on federal charges of enticement of minors on the Internet. Most cases involve an undercover agent communicating with someone about a child that doesn’t actually exist. 18 U.S.C. 2422(b) carries a mandatory ten year prison sentence for anyone: “…using the mail or any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce, or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years, to engage in prostitution or any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so… .”

“Intermediary” Cases

Now, most of the time, the undercover agent is pretending to be someone who has access to a minor, not the purported minor. These are known as “intermediary” cases, and different federal courts are split on what type of access the undercover agent can claim to the fictitious child as well as what type of things can be said to the agent to constitute “enticement.” These are complex issues that require an attorney who has experience with these types of cases.

USE OF A COMPUTER

Section 2A3.1(b)(6)(B) of the Guidelines enhance potential sentences for child enticement charges and other sexual offenses for the “use of a computer.” The Guidelines explain:

“Use of a Computer or Interactive Computer Service.—Subsection (b)(6)(B) provides an enhancement if a computer or an interactive computer service was used to (i) persuade, induce, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in prohibited sexual conduct; or (ii) facilitate transportation or travel, by a minor or a participant, to engage in prohibited sexual conduct. Subsection (b)(6)(B) is intended to apply only to the use of a computer or an interactive computer service to communicate directly with a minor or with a person who exercises custody, care, or supervisory control of the minor. Accordingly, the enhancement would not apply to the use of a computer or an interactive computer service to obtain airline tickets for the minor from an airline’s Internet site.”

Contact an Attorney Today

Federal criminal charges stemming from alleged child pornography are among some of the most serious criminal offenses a person can face. Therefore, it is crucial that you immediately contact a criminal defense attorney who has experience in defending clients against such charges, and who has long-standing relationships with the authorities and courts that will be handling your case. If you live in Virginia, you can find more information here.