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Federal Criminal Defense: Pornography and Online Solicitation


7/7/2020

While First Amendment rights to free speech are protected by the United States Constitution, images of child pornography are not. Under federal law and state laws, child pornography is illegal. If you were charged with child pornography or online solicitation of a minor, you are facing serious allegations and substantial penalties. With so much to lose, you need the representation of an experienced Philadelphia federal criminal defense attorney immediately. Hiring the right attorney who will leverage his or her skills to determine which defenses are most appropriate for your charges and effectively apply them could reduce or even eliminate your charges.

To schedule a free consultation with federal criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer, call our office today or contact us online.

Federal Child Pornography Laws

According to Section 2256 of Title 18, United States Code, child pornography is any kind of visual representation of sexually explicit content involving an individual under 18 years of age. It usually involves pictures or videos, but some forms of pornography involve computer-generated images that look like a real child or even images that are created or modified in such a way that they appear to depict an identifiable minor child. Not only that, but items such as undeveloped camera or video camera film or electronically stored data that can be converted into a visual image of child pornography are also illegal.

It’s important to note that sexually explicit conduct is not limited to images of children participating in sexual activities. Pictures of naked children that are sexually suggestive will constitute child pornography under federal law. No matter the age of consent under state laws, a depiction of a minor less than 18 years of age who is participating in conduct that is sexually explicit is illegal.

Furthermore, producing, distributing, receiving, or possessing child pornography using or affecting the means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce is prohibited under federal laws. Contacting a minor child and persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing them to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the production of visual depictions of the conduct is also a federal crime.

Any of these crimes can be prosecuted under state and federal laws. If the offense involved interstate or foreign commerce, the crime is within federal jurisdiction. For example, using the U.S. Mail Service or other common carriers to move child pornography or using the Internet are typically prosecuted as federal crimes. Federal law can also be used if an individual uses materials like a computer or CD-ROM to download or store an image that came from or traveled in interstate or foreign commerce.

The Crime of Online Solicitation

It is a federal crime to solicit a minor child. Under 18 United States Code §§ 2422 & 2423, it is illegal to solicit a minor for sex by mail, the Internet, or any other form of interstate or international communication. It is also illegal to cross state lines for the purpose of engaging in any illicit activity with a minor or to send sexually explicit material to an individual under 18 years of age through the mail or the Internet.

Sex Offender Federal Penalties

Federal law imposes strict penalties for sex crimes, and the vast majority of federal judges follow the advisory federal sentencing guidelines when sentencing defendants. If convicted on federal charges for a sex crime such as solicitation of a minor, you could face between 10-30 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines. In addition, you would be mandated to register as a sex offender for life. If your alleged crime involved child pornography, these penalties can increase.

A first-time offender convicted of producing child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2251 will be subject to a minimum of 15 to 30 years in prison. A first-time offender convicted of child pornography in connection with interstate or foreign commerce under 18 U.S.C. § 2252, will be required to spend between five and 20 years in prison. Prior convicted child pornography offenders or offenders in aggravated child pornography charges will face up to life in prison. Aggravating factors include:

  • The pornographic images are violent, sadistic, or masochistic in nature
  • The minor was sexually abused
  • The offender has prior convictions for child sexual exploitation

The stakes are undoubtedly high when it comes to the penalties for pornography, sexual exploitation, and related sex crimes. You can increase your chances of getting these penalties reduced or eliminated by hiring a seasoned Philadelphia federal criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. In fact, if you suspect you will be facing charges in the future, you can hire one preemptively.

State Penalties

In addition to federal child pornography or exploitation charges, state charges can also apply to sex-related crimes. Because the federal government is a separate sovereign from the state, the Double Jeopardy Clause does not apply. If convicted on both state and federal sex crime charges, the federal sentencing judge can order the sentences to run concurrently or consecutively. That decision that they make will have a tremendous impact on how much time you ultimately serve in prison. Ideally, the sentences should run concurrently, but not that does not occur in every case. If you are facing both state and federal charges, now is the time to hire a Philadelphia federal criminal defense attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and that your case is resolved as favorably as possible.

Call a Philadelphia Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you are facing charges related to an online solicitation or another type of federal sex crime, a skilled Philadelphia federal criminal defense lawyer from our firm can help you. Our law firm has experience negotiating plea bargains, successfully defending clients at trial, and helping them move on with their lives as quickly as possible. At Philadelphia criminal defense law firm, Wimmer Criminal Defense Law, we fully believe in upholding clients’ rights, no matter the charge. Whether you are facing child pornography, solicitation, or other sex crime charges in state or federal court in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or the surrounding areas, we can provide you with the knowledgeable and aggressive counsel you need.

To schedule your case review with a skilled Philadelphia federal criminal defense lawyer, call Wimmer Criminal Defense Law today at 215-712-1212 or use our convenient online contact form.