Service & Results.

nyc criminal lawyers over 30 years of experienceWe Know How To Win Cases

Spodek Law Group handles tough cases
nationwide, that demand excellence.

Get Free Consultation

Faced 5+ Years in Prison

People Vs Joseph Amico

Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.

Faced 10+ Years in Prison

People Vs. Anna Sorokin

Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.

Faced 3+ Years in Prison

People Vs. Genevieve Sabourin

Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.

Faced Potential Charges

Ghislaine Maxwell Juror

Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.

Why Choose Us

Clients can use our portal to track the status of their case, stay in touch with us, upload documents, and more.

Regardless of the type of situation you're facing, our attorneys are here to help you get quality representation.

We can setup consultations in person, over Zoom, or over the phone to help you. Bottom line, we're here to help you win your case.

Law in the Media

View All

Meet Todd Spodek


The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.

In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.

Why Clients Choose Spodek Law Group

The reason is simple: clients want white glove service, and lawyers who can win. Every single client who works with the Spodek Law Group is aware that the attorney they hire could drastically change the outcome of their case. Hiring the Spodek Law Group means you’re taking your future seriously. Our lawyers handle cases nationwide, ranging from NYC to LA. Our philosophy is fair and simple: our nyc criminal lawyers only take on clients who we know will benefit from our services.

We’re selective about the clients we work with, and only take on cases we know align with our experience – and where we can make a difference. This is different from other law firms who are not invested in your success nor care about your outcome.

If you have a legal issue, call us for a consultation.
We are available 24/7, to help you with any – and all, challenges you face.

Child Pornography Sentencing Guidelines

By Spodek Law Group | December 23, 2023
(Last Updated On: February 20, 2024)

Last Updated on: 20th February 2024, 10:52 pm

The Complex History and Uncertain Future of Federal Child Pornography Sentencing

Child pornography is undoubtedly a serious crime that causes significant harm. However, federal sentencing guidelines for non-production child pornography offenses have become increasingly severe over time, often driven more by emotional reactions and political pressures rather than empirical evidence. This has resulted in confusion, inconsistencies, and unduly harsh punishments that many argue are disproportionate to the culpability of offenders. Reforming these flawed guidelines will require nuanced conversations and a willingness to analyze tough issues objectively.

The Origins of Harsh Sentencing Enhancements

In the early 2000s, Congress passed several laws directing the United States Sentencing Commission to increase penalties for child pornography offenses. These included mandatory minimum sentences and specific offense level increases. For example, the PROTECT Act of 2003 directly amended the sentencing guidelines to add a 2-level enhancement for using a computer in the offense and reduced the ability of judges to depart downwards from the guidelines.At the time, these sentencing policies were likely driven more by public emotion and desire for harsh punishment rather than empirical analysis. As explained in a 2011 law review article by federal public defender Troy Stabenow:

“The political pressures that motivate changes to the child pornography guidelines severely limit the ability of the Sentencing Commission to develop these guidelines based on data, national experience, and input from experts.”

Unfortunately, in the years since, Congress has continued to pass laws directing further guideline amendments to increase penalties. The Sentencing Commission lacks clear authority to independently review or modify guidelines that were directly amended by Congress.This has resulted in a complex and disjointed sentencing structure with unduly severe penalties, as we’ll explore next.

The Result – Confusion, Disparity, and Excessive Punishments

According to a 2021 report by the Sentencing Commission analyzing data from fiscal year 2019:

  • Less than one-third of child pornography offenders received a sentence within the calculated guideline range due to routine downward departures and variances by judges.
  • There were significant inconsistencies in sentences between jurisdictions and even among similar offenders in the same courthouse. For example:
    • Sentences for 119 similarly situated possession offenders ranged from probation to 228 months
    • Sentences for 52 similarly situated receipt offenders ranged from 37 months to 180 months
  • The average guideline minimum increased from 98 months in 2005 to 210 months in 2019, while average sentences imposed rose at a slower pace from 91 to 103 months over the same period.

This data shows the guidelines are clearly flawed and fail to provide consistency and proportionality in sentencing. Even within the same courthouses, similarly situated offenders often receive vastly divergent sentences.At the same time, sentences remain extremely lengthy even after accounting for routine downward departures by judges. As one analysis noted, these trends suggest “the statutory and guideline penalty structure governing child pornography offenses is fundamentally broken.”

Driving Factors Behind Inconsistency and Disproportionate Punishments

There are several key factors that help explain the problems with federal child pornography sentencing:

Overly Broad Sentencing Enhancements

The sentencing guidelines provide enhancements that apply very broadly, rather than targeting the most egregious offenses and offenders. For example, the +2 level enhancement for images depicting sadistic/masochistic conduct is defined so broadly that it applies routinely, rather than only for the most extreme content.Similarly, enhancements related to the number of images provide sharp increases in penalties based solely on arbitrary numerical thresholds rather than meaningful gradations in offense severity or culpability.

Lack of Empirical Support

Many of the specific offense levels and enhancements lack empirical support regarding their impact on sentencing proportionality or effectiveness as public policy.Congress and the Commission have increased penalties without research into actual recidivism rates or danger posed by subgroups of offenders. This contradicts the Sentencing Commission’s original empirical approach when first developing sentencing guidelines in the 1980s.

Technological Changes

The sentencing scheme has not kept pace with significant technological changes over the past 15-20 years. Offense levels and enhancements fail to account for the realities of digital content, including ease of copying and sharing massive collections online.As a result, guidelines often recommend sentences of 15, 20 years, or even life in prison for many non-production cases based predominantly on the arbitrary number of images in a collection.

Lack of Judicial Discretion

Statutory mandatory minimums and restrictive guidelines constrain the ability of judges to impose sentences tailored to the individual circumstances of each case. This contributes to inconsistencies as judges find ways to work around the guidelines to avoid imposing unduly harsh punishments they consider unjust.

The Path Forward – Reforming Flawed Policies

There seems to be growing recognition within the legal community that reforming federal child pornography sentencing is needed. But finding solutions remains challenging due to the complex legislative history and emotionally charged nature of these offenses.In testimony to the Sentencing Commission in 2012, even Justice Department representatives acknowledged issues with sentencing proportionality and suggested “the time is right to revisit the sentencing scheme.”Many experts argue comprehensive statutory changes by Congress are required to truly fix the dysfunctional sentencing structure. Suggested reforms include:

  • Granting the Sentencing Commission express authority to independently review and modify Congressionally-amended guidelines. Currently they lack clear power to do so.
  • Revising mandatory minimums and statutory penalty ranges to better allow for judicial discretion and avoid disproportionate sentences.
  • More narrowly tailoring sentencing enhancements to target only the most culpable behaviors rather than routine applying broadly.
  • Basing any further penalty increases on empirical data regarding harm, recidivism risk, and public safety impacts – rather than emotion or politics.

For real progress, policymakers must be willing to analyze these issues objectively, even when the subject matter makes that difficult. Research shows most child pornography offenders have little or no prior criminal history and low rates of sexual recidivism.Sentencing policies should account for such data to avoid imposing unjust punishments that lack public safety benefits. With a reasoned, evidence-based approach, a more fair and rational federal sentencing framework can emerge.



Data and Reports

Free Consultation


I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

~Fonder Brandon

5 Stars
It was my good fortune to retain Spodek Law Group for representation for my legal needs. From the beginning, communication was prompt and thorough. Todd, Kenneth and Alex were the first people I worked with and they all made me feel comfortable and confident that the team was going to work hard for me. Everything was explained and any concerns...

~A G

5 Stars
After meeting with several law firms, I chose the Spodek Law Group not only for their professionalism and experience, but for the personal attention given to me right from the initial consultation. It is important to recognize how crucial having the right legal team is when faced with potentially life altering events that impact families and the lives of loved...

~George Cherubini

Spodek Law Group

White Glove Service

We Provide Superior Service, Excellent Results, At A Level Superior To Other Criminal Defense Law Firms. Regardless Of Where Your Case Is, Nationwide, We Can Help You.
View More

Request Free Consultation

Please fill out the form below to receive a free consultation, we will respond to
your inquiry within 24-hours guaranteed.


85 Broad St 30th Floor, New York, NY 10004


get directions

Los Angeles

611 S Catalina St Suite 222, Los Angeles, CA 90005


get directions


35-37 36th St, 2nd Floor Astoria, NY 11106


get directions


195 Montague St., 14th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201


get directions
Call Now!