DC Federal Child Pornography Attorney

Images of child pornography are not protected under the First Amendment. Child pornography offenses — such as possession, distribution, or production of child pornography — in Washington, DC can be prosecuted as either a “state” or federal crime. Other associated crimes can include aggravated sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children, and human trafficking for the purposes of child prostitution. If you have been so charged, or believe you may be under investigation, it is important that you seek counsel from a dedicated DC federal child pornography lawyer.

Both the DC and federal laws are near mirror images of one another when it comes to classification and the procedures used in the prosecution of child pornography. Both laws state that it is illegal to produce, distribute, receive, or possess child pornography.Children are defined as minors who are 17 or younger. It is illegal to “persuade, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct with the intention of producing visual depictions of that conduct.” See 18 U.S. Code Section 2252 and DC Code Section 22-3102.

Child Pornography Penalties in the District of Columbia

All suspects convicted in DC Superior Court are subject to time in prison and fines. According to DC Code Sections 22-3103 and  22-3571.01, fines can range up to $25,000 and imprisonment can range up to 10 years for the first offense. For a second or subsequent conviction, a person faces a fine of up to $50,000 or imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both. However, if you are facing federal rather than DC charges, you should contact a DC federal child pornography lawyer who is admitted to practice in federal court.

U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography

  • 18 U.S.C. Section 2251- Sexual Exploitation of Children (production of child pornography): Makes it illegal to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for purposes of producing visual depictions of that conduct.
  • 18 U.S.C. Section 2251A- Selling and Buying of Children: Prohibits any parents, legal guardian, or other person in custody or control of a minor under the age of 18 , to buy, sell, or transfer custody of that minor for purposes of producing child pornography.
  • 18 U.S.C. Section 2252- Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minor (Possession, distribution, and receipt of child pornography)
  • 18 U.S.C. Section 2252A- Certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography
  • 18 U.S.C. Section 2260- Production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the United States: Prohibits any persons outside of the United States to knowingly produce, receive, transport, ship, or distribute child pornography with intent to import or transmit the visual depiction into the United States.

Federal Child Pornography Charges

Under the PROTECT Act of 2003, a first-time conviction of for transporting child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce can face fines and up to five to 20 years in prison. If the individual has certain prior convictions, that time can range from 15 to 40 years. See 18 U.S. Code Section 2252. A first time conviction of producing child pornography under 18 U.S.C. Section 2251 can result in a 15 to 30 years in prison.

Penalties may be increased, including up to life in prison, if the offense occurred in aggravated situations, which can include:

  • The images portray sexual acts that are violent, masochistic, or sadistic;
  • The minor was sexually abused;
  • The offender has prior convictions for child sexual exploitation.

Another major difference between DC and federal charges is the resources available to the prosecution. With federal charges, you are often facing the near limitless resources of federal investigative agencies like the FBI, and experienced United States Attorneys prosecuting the case. For these reasons, it is important to consult with a DC federal child pornography lawyer who understands the stakes and what it is like to defend clients against the federal government in court.

Can “Sexting” be Prosecuted as Child Pornography?

The popularity of sexting, particularly among youths and young adults, has skyrocketed. What few may realize, however, is that the act of sending sexually explicit materials to another person via their cell phone can result in a federal charge of child pornography if the image includes a minor under the age of 18. The trend among teens to send nude or “pornographic images” to other youths in their social circle has drawn serious attention of law enforcement at local, state, and national levels. Because sexting can be charged as the distribution of child pornography, an individual who is so accused may face federal [18 U.S. Code Section 2252] and local charges [DC Code Section 22-3102].

How this offense is prosecuted depends upon a number of factors. The Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act (FJDA) states that, whenever possible, juveniles should be prosecuted in state—not federal—courts. See also 18 U.S. Code Section 5032.  If the perpetrator is under the age of 18, the case may be heard in juvenile court or adult court proceedings, depending on the age of the defendant and the severity of the charges.

It’s important to keep in mind that even if a minor remains in the DC juvenile court system, they may still face myriad penalties at the court’s discretion. These penalties can include:

  • A fine
  • In-home confinement
  • Juvenile detention, often followed by a period of probation
  • Court-mandated counseling
  • Community service hours
  • Probation

Why Do I Need a DC Federal Child Pornography Lawyer?

Those convicted of child pornography will be branded as felons and can suffer devastating professional and personal consequences. For immigrants, visa or citizenship applications may be threatened. In many cases deportation is possible. Felony convictions can also jeopardize one’s right to vote and legally own or possess a firearm. Those convicted of child pornography in the District of Columbia will be required to register as a sex offender and can face further imprisonment if they violate any regulations that apply to the registration requirements. See DC Code Section 22-4001(9).

Additionally, those convicted of certain sex crimes, including child pornography, will most likely face job loss and the revocation of certain professional licenses, such as medical licenses and teaching certifications. Child pornography convictions also make it difficult, if not impossible, to pass security and background checks in the Washington, DC region. Those convicted at a young age may be denied acceptance to the college of their choice or expelled from their university. Banks and other financial institutions may deem someone convicted of federal child pornography too high of a risk for loans. Obviously, such convictions can result in social stigma and threaten familial relationships, including the loss of custody of a child.

It is also important to look for DC child pornography lawyers who have handled serious federal sex crime cases in the past, as they will be familiar with the preparation involved in building a defense.

DC Federal Child Pornography Attorney