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Having your name mentioned in the same sentence as the phrase “child pornography” can immediately cloud your reputation and change your personal and professional life. When investigating child pornography, law enforcement agencies may question everyone who was within close proximity to the crime when it occurred. Roommates, coworkers, people who shared a computer, and even someone who may have unintentionally received the illegal images may be interviewed by the police. Although child pornography can be a state or federal charge, most cases are within the federal government’s jurisdiction. The child pornography defense attorneys at Ohle & Ohle represent people who are under investigation for distribution of federal child pornography.

What is child pornography?

Title 18 of the United States Code addresses child pornography. Section 2256 describes child pornography as “any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor.” A minor is anyone who is under the age of 18. Visual depictions may take the form of videos, digital images, computer-generated images that cannot be distinguished from an actual minor, and photos. Images that are created, adapted, or modified to appear to depict an actual minor in a sexual manner are categorized as child pornography under the federal statute. Federal courts consider undeveloped film, undeveloped videotape, and data that is stored electronically and can be converted into a pornographic visual image of a child to be an illegal depiction.

Federal child pornography distribution charges

Federal law punishes the act of sharing pornography images of children more severely than possession. More specifically, the federal distribution statute prohibits the production, distribution, reception, and possession of a pornographic image of a child in a manner that uses or affects interstate or foreign commerce. There are several different acts federal courts consider to be the act of distribution.

Examples include:

  • allowing another person to copy pornographic images of children
  • giving away illegal images of minors free of charge
  • selling illegal images of minors
  • forwarding a message that contains an illegal image of a child
  • posting pornographic images of a child to a file sharing platform

To date, the law remains unclear on whether an individual who shows an illegal image of a child to someone without sending the image can be convicted under the federal distribution law. Nevertheless, someone who shows child pornography to someone else can be convicted for possession of child pornography.

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Accidentally downloading and distributing child pornography

In today’s digital age, file transfer can occur without detection. During the investigative stage of a child pornography investigation, federal law enforcement agents track digital footprints through email trails, search histories, file download records, and IP addresses.

In some instances, an individual may unintentionally send or receive a file. Virus files often contain programs and images that may remain hidden on a device. Some viruses also connect the victim’s device to websites by automatically redirecting the user to fraudulent or pornographic web pages. Once infected with a virus, the infected device can transmit infected files to others through email or file transfer. If a law enforcement agency is monitoring a website that distributes illegal materials, the path of digital footprints may lead to people who unintentionally received and transmitted illegal images from a computer virus. In such cases, your federal child pornography defense lawyer could gather and use this evidence to bolster your case.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of unsolicited email. Companies send emails to advertise sales. Sometimes people send out bulk emails with deceptive links enclosed as part of a “phishing scheme.” Pornographic emails can come from someone you know or from sexually-themed websites that are looking to gain traffic and paying subscribers. The simple act of clicking on a link in an email that redirects you to child pornography. When you click the link, digital thumbprints and other files may be instantly downloaded onto your device. The next time you send a file attachment to someone, you may be at risk of accidentally clicking on a file that was automatically downloaded to your device when you clicked the link in the unsolicited email.

Wrongfully accused of distributing child pornography

In other cases, child pornography may have been distributed from an individual’s device while someone else was using the device. These situations occur in homes with shared computers or if an individual allows a friend to borrow his or her device. Lost or stolen devices may also result in a false child pornography charge. However, in these instances, law enforcement officials are more likely to be able to trace the device’s location and determine who obtained and transferred the files.

Mandatory minimum sentences

Federal judges are required to follow mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines in cases that involve child pornography. First-time conviction for a child pornography offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison with a maximum of 30 years imprisonment. A federal sentencing court may also impose massive fines as part of the penalty. Moreover, each pornography image may be charged and convicted as a separate count. Therefore, if a first-time offender is convicted on 10 counts of distributing child pornography, the individual would be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 50 years in federal prison. The mandatory minimum sentence increases in cases involving individuals who have one or more prior child pornography-related convictions.

When your future’s on the line, reach out to Ohle & Ohle, P.A.

If you are under a federal investigation for distributing child pornography in or near Fort Pierce, the time to consult a criminal defense attorney is now. Getting an experienced federal child pornography defense lawyer on the case as early as possible can empower you to protect your reputation and your freedom. The criminal lawyers at Ohle & Ohle, P.A. are thoroughly familiar with federal courts, judges, and prosecutors. We are qualified to match the sharpness and expertise of the legal professionals who are employed by the government at the federal level.

Our team will listen to your case and identify the strategies that are most likely to get you the most favorable outcome in your situation. We will fight with determination to establish your case and defend your rights. Contact us to receive a free case evaluation.

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