27 Nov 23

Philadelphia Federal Child Pornography Charges: Distribution and Possession

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Last Updated on: 4th January 2024, 08:45 pm

Philadelphia Federal Child Pornography Charges: Distribution and Possession

Child pornography is a serious crime that can lead to severe penalties in Philadelphia. Both distributing and possessing child pornography are federal offenses that carry significant prison time and fines. Understanding the laws, defenses, and implications of federal child porn charges in Philadelphia is crucial for anyone facing prosecution.

According to federal law, child pornography involves visual depictions of minors (under 18) engaged in sexually explicit conduct. This includes images, videos, digital or computer-generated content, and more. Distributing child porn means sharing, selling, transporting, transferring or posting it online. Possessing child pornography means downloading, accessing or keeping it in one’s home, vehicle or digital devices.

Merely viewing child pornography online can constitute possession in the eyes of federal prosecutors. Even if the images are quickly deleted, evidence of access may be retrievable through digital forensic tools. This means simply coming across child porn on the internet can lead to criminal charges if not reported immediately.

Distribution of Child Pornography

Distributing child pornography is an extremely serious federal crime that comes with harsh mandatory minimum sentences. Under 18 U.S. Code § 2252, penalties for distributing child porn include:

  • 5-20 years in prison for a first offense
  • 15-40 years for a second offense
  • Fines up to $250,000
  • Lifetime supervised release

Those who distribute large collections of child pornography or depictions of very young children or violent conduct face even stiffer penalties of 15-40 years for a first offense. The maximum prison term for distributing child porn is 50 years.

Because mandatory minimums apply, judges have limited discretion at sentencing. The only way to potentially reduce prison time is through a downward departure motion filed by the prosecution or cooperation with investigators. However, cooperation does not guarantee a lighter sentence.

Distributing child pornography also requires sex offender registration for life. This brings additional restrictions like limits on where offenders can live, work and socialize. Violating registration requirements leads to more prison time.

Possession of Child Pornography

Like distribution, possessing child pornography brings severe consequences in federal court. Penalties for possession under 18 U.S. Code § 2252 include:

  • Up to 10 years in prison for a first offense
  • Up to 20 years for a second offense
  • Fines up to $250,000
  • Lifetime supervised release
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Possession of a large volume of child pornography leads to an enhanced sentence of 10-20 years for a first offense. The maximum for a possession conviction is 40 years in prison.

Although judges have more discretion at sentencing for possession compared to distribution charges, incarceration for multiple years is still common. Like distributors, those convicted of possession must register as sex offenders for life.

Defending Against Child Porn Charges

Given the severe penalties, building an aggressive legal defense is imperative when facing federal child porn charges in Philadelphia. Some possible defenses include:

  • Lack of knowledge – Argue that you never knowingly downloaded or possessed child pornography. Images may have been received without your consent.
  • Entrapment – Claim that law enforcement induced you to obtain child porn that you otherwise would not have accessed.
  • False accusations – Challenge the validity of accusations, particularly from estranged spouses or partners.
  • Illegal search – Seek to suppress evidence from an unconstitutional search or seizure.
  • Mistaken age – Argue you reasonably believed any individuals depicted were adults, not minors.

An experienced federal criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the evidence and build a personalized defense to attack the prosecution’s case. This provides the best chance at an acquittal or minimized charges.

Implications of a Conviction

The consequences of a child porn conviction extend far beyond time behind bars. A felony conviction brings a lifetime of restrictions, including:

  • Inability to live near schools, parks, or anywhere children congregate
  • Potential difficulty finding employment, especially in certain fields
  • Bars on adopting or fostering children
  • Restricted internet access and computer monitoring
  • Sex offender counseling requirements
  • Public shaming and difficulty reintegrating into society

Those convicted of child pornography charges face severe stigma and limitations for the rest of their lives. The collateral damage to family relationships and reputation can be devastating as well.

Avoiding Accidental Viewing

Given the harsh potential penalties, it’s important to be vigilant about avoiding accidental exposure to child pornography online. Never visit illegal websites or click suspicious links. Be wary of peer-to-peer file sharing networks. Always securely erase files from recycled devices. Encrypt sensitive data.

If child pornography appears on your screen, immediately close the images, contact authorities and an attorney. Do not delete files, since forensic analysis can prove you did not intentionally view the material. Quickly reporting accidental access provides a strong defense against possession charges.

Seeking Legal Guidance

Facing federal child pornography charges in Philadelphia warrants experienced legal representation. An attorney can protect your rights, build a strong defense and help mitigate devastating penalties. Consider consulting with a lawyer immediately if you are under investigation or charged with distributing or possessing child porn.

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With an aggressive defense and skilled negotiator on your side, it may be possible to reduce charges, pursue alternatives to incarceration and preserve your future. Though the federal justice system is unforgiving on child pornography crimes, hope remains with the right legal advocate in your corner.