Federal Child Pornography Defense Lawyer St. Louis, Missouri. Being investigated for or charged with child pornography is obviously a very serious matter. Merely being charged can damage your reputation, and a conviction could lead to life-altering and permanent consequences to your future and freedom. Combs Law Group offers free and confidential consultations to those in St. Louis and throughout Missouri who are facing federal child pornography charges.
Because the production and distribution of child pornography often involve either transporting children across state lines or distributing the material across state lines, you may face federal charges in addition to charges from the state of Missouri. This brings extra complications to your case and may mean there are multiple federal agencies investigating you. That’s why it’s critical to hire an experienced federal crimes lawyer in St. Louis who knows how to get their clients great results. Call Combs Law for an experienced, dedicated and tough federal child pornography defense lawyer in St. Louis at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online.
Federal Child Pornography Laws
In simple terms, child pornography refers to a visual depiction of people under the age of 18 engaging in sexually explicit or sexually suggestive conduct. The United States’ Federal Child Pornography Laws are largely written out in two U.S. codes: 18 U.S. Code § 2251 concerning the production of child pornography, and 18 U.S. Code § 2252 regarding its possession, distribution and receipt.
18 U.S. Code § 2251
The federal “Sexual exploitation of children” law has several sections detailing who can be charged with the production of child pornography:
- Any person who employs, entices or forces any minor to engage in or assist with the production of a visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct. This section also covers people who transport minors across state lines for the purpose of engaging in such activity
- Any parent or legal guardian that knowingly permits a minor to engage in or assist with the production of a visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct meant to be transported or transmitted
- Anyone who commits any of the above crimes outside of the United States and either transports or attempts to transport them into the U.S. and/or its territories
- Anyone who knowingly makes, prints, publishes or causes to be made an advertisement seeking or offering to receive, produce, distribute or reproduce any visual depiction of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct
The punishment for anyone convicted of either sexual exploitation of children or attempted sexual exploitation of children is a fine and federal imprisonment for between 15 to 30 years. If it is the second conviction for child pornography or any other sex crime involving children, the sentence is imprisonment for 25 to 50 years. Two or more prior convictions result in 35 years to life, while any violation that results in the death of another can be punished by 30 years to life or by death.
Under 18 U.S. Code § 2251A, parents and legal guardians can also be convicted of “selling or buying children” if they give temporary custody or control to someone else, knowing that the minor would engage in or assist with the production of a visual depiction of sexually explicit material. If the offense involved transferring the minor or the material across state lines, the sentence is 30 years to life.
18 U.S. Code § 2252
The law regarding “Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors” stipulates that anyone who knowingly, through interstate or foreign commerce, including through computers or mail, receives, distributes, possesses with intent to sell or accesses with intent to view a visual depiction of minors engaging in sexually explicit material, is guilty of a federal crime. Punishments include:
- For distribution and sale:
- A fine and 5 to 20 years imprisonment for a first-time offense
- A fine and 15 to 40 years if the alleged offender has a previous sex crimes conviction
- For possession or access with intent to view:
- A fine and/or a prison sentence of up to 10 years
- A fine and imprisonment of up to 20 years if the images or videos depicted a prepubescent minor or a minor under the age of 12
- 10 to 20 years in prison if this is not the first sex crime or child pornography conviction
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Defend Me Against Federal Child Pornography Charges?
Child pornography cases are zealously prosecuted by the federal government; it’s essential to reach out to a federal child pornography lawyer right away so they can start building your defense strategy. Speak to a federal criminal defense lawyer for free today at (314) 900-HELP.
In order for the charges to be valid, prosecutors must prove intent. Any person can accidentally come into possession of such images because of a virus, clicking on the wrong link or receiving other downloads that have the images attached. 18 U.S. Code § 2252 allows for an affirmative defense of possession of child pornography, meaning a defense that can negate criminal liability, if the following is true:
- You possessed less than three images of child pornography; and
- You “promptly and in good faith,” without allowing anyone except law enforcement to view, access or copy the images:
- Took reasonable steps to destroy the images; or
- Reported the images to a law enforcement agency and allowed them access to the images
In cases that allege you were involved in the production of child pornography, your federal child pornography defense lawyer will carefully examine all factors in your case to build a custom defense. These cases are extremely complicated and are dependent upon the specifics of each situation.
Other possible defenses include:
- You were not accessing the computer at the time the files were allegedly obtained or distributed
- Using a computer expert to prove that you did not intentionally create an image and you did not search for any relevant terms
- The Defense of Reasonable Belief of Age; proving through clear and convincing evidence that you didn’t know and couldn’t have known the alleged victim was under the age of 18
- The person in the video or image is not a minor, even if they look like it
- The images are not obscene or suggestive in nature, and therefore not prohibited by federal law
- Evidence against you was not lawfully obtained and your Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment or Sixth Amendment rights were violated
In some cases, when you have made egregious errors and are guilty of federal child pornography charges, your best option may be for our St. Louis criminal defense lawyers to enter into plea bargaining negotiations on your behalf. While this will almost always still result in a guilty plea and won’t absolve you of all the consequences, it can alleviate your sentence and put you on the best path to turning your life around.
Whatever the allegations and your circumstances, Combs Law Group can help. All of our legal counsel will be based on our experience, expertise and what we truly believe is in your best interest and likely to achieve the most favorable possible outcome.
Speak to a St. Louis, MO Federal Child Pornography Defense Lawyer Today
No matter the nature of the charges against you, you deserve a competent and confident federal child pornography defense team that will listen to you and stand by you when it seems like no one else will. Combs Law helps people in bad situations no matter how they find themselves there. Speak to a federal defense and sex crime lawyer today at St. Louis or contact us online.