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Child Pornography Laws, Charges and Statute of Limitations

June 26, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Child pornography is one of the worst crimes across the country. This is a crime that involves any type of pornography featuring a child younger than 18 years old. Whether the content is in photo, video, sound or any other form, it doesn’t matter. If a minor under the age of 18 is featured, it is considered child pornography, which is a serious federal offense that comes with some of the most severe penalties and consequences.

Additionally, there are two types of child pornography: that which directly involves a child and simulated. Regardless of the type, child pornography involves other laws pertaining to child abuse. No matter what the circumstances, the laws surrounding child pornography are always the harshest.

Child Pornography Laws

There are state and federal laws that make child pornography illegal. Generally speaking, most charges for the crime are filed on the federal level. It’s important to know that the First Amendment does not protect anyone from child pornography. Whether a person has created, distributed or possessed child pornography, the penalties they can face after being convicted of the crime are among the harshest in the country. Generally speaking, the exact punishment a person receives depends on the circumstances. Additionally, a person can still be convicted of child pornography even if the child isn’t actually engaging in a sexual act in the content. If the child is nude and posed in a sexually suggestive manner, that is enough to be considered a crime and in violation of federal laws. It also doesn’t matter that there are state laws that vary on the age of consent; if a minor younger than 18 is featured in pornographic content, it is still against the law.

While federal law deals with all of these crimes, the individual can also be charged at the state level.

Child Pornography Crimes and Charges

Under federal law, any image that includes children in a sexual manner is considered child pornography. Minors younger than 18 cannot be pictured in any pornography as a result. The laws are clear when defining each type of pornography and how it is used. Charges can be brought against a person for the following:

• Creating child pornography, whether photos or video of children in sexual situations.
• Possessing child pornography on one’s computer, photos or DVD.
• Viewing child pornography and storing images of such content.
• Distributing child pornography in any manner.

Penalties for Child Pornography

Child pornography always carries the most serious penalties for those convicted of the crime. For a first offense, a person who is convicted of producing child pornography can face 15 to 30 years in prison and hefty fines. If someone is convicted of distributing it, the sentence may be five to 20 years of prison time and fines. No matter what the level of offense, however, individuals convicted of child pornography are required to be placed on the Sex Offenders Registry and stay a certain distance away from schools, daycare centers and other places frequented by children. Their neighbors must also be warned of their status. This is a crime that follows a person for the rest of their life.

Other factors can also determine the individual’s sentence, such as prior criminal history, whether the content was violent or sadistic and whether the child was sexually abused.

When it comes to sentencing in a child pornography case, the judge will take many different factors into consideration. The person’s criminal history, the content involving the child, amount of that content and others will be taken into consideration. Generally speaking, the sentencing is usually severe due to the heinous nature of child pornography itself.

Statute of Limitations for Child Pornography

On the federal level, there is no statute of limitations for child pornography, meaning that a person can be charged at any time. Some states have a statute of limitations, but the majority of these cases are charged as federal crimes.

A person who has been arrested and charged with child pornography should know that it is a very serious matter. No matter what the situation, such charges always require the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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