Child pornography charges carry a huge stigma and a conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. If you are facing federal child pornography charges in Southern California, The Law Office of Peter Blair can help.

Founding attorney Peter Blair is a recognized criminal defense expert in the San Diego legal community. He is proud to represent clients throughout Southern California with compassion, skill, and a thorough knowledge of both state and federal law. If you are facing serious charges, such as creation or possession of child pornography, Mr. Blair will work tirelessly to clear your name and fight for your freedom every step of the way. Call (619) 357-4977 or contact The Law Offices of Peter Blair online to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

Legal Definitions

Section 2256 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code provides the federal definition of child pornography. Under this statute, “child pornography” refers to any visual depiction (e.g. photograph, film, video, picture, or computer-generated image) of someone under the age of 18 engaging in sexually explicit conduct. It is considered child pornography if the person involved was a minor at the time the image was created or if a minor’s image was used to create, adapt, or modify the image.

However, this definition does not apply to visual depictions that are drawings, cartoons, paintings, or sculptures depicting minors. Rather, it only counts as child pornography if the person in the image is indistinguishable from an actual child, meaning “that an ordinary person viewing the depiction would conclude that the depiction is of an actual minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct” (18 U.S. Code section 2256).

Federal law prohibits the creation, distribution, reception, importation, or possession of any pornographic images involving minors. Specific federal statutes concerning child pornography are:

  • Sexual exploitation of children, i.e. production of child pornography: 18 U.S.C. § 2251
  • Selling and buying children for the purpose of creating child pornography: 18 U.S.C. § 2251A
  • Certain activities related to sexual exploitation of minors, i.e. possessing, distributing, and receiving child pornography: 18 U.S.C. § 2252
  • Certain activities related to pornographic material or items containing pornographic material, i.e. mailing or transporting child pornography, advertising or promoting child pornography, and other offenses: 18 U.S.C. § 2252A
  • Production of child pornography for importation into the U.S.: 18 U.S.C. § 2260

Many child pornography cases are heard in state-level courts, rather than federal courts. However, in certain instances, federal authorities may take over the case or have jurisdiction in the first place. This is often true when a creator or distributor of child pornography is distributing the content to other states or has created a network for sharing the pornographic images with others. Child pornography cases may also be heard in federal court when it involves the importation of pornographic materials into the country or the use of federal systems (e.g. the U.S. Postal Service) to distribute pornographic images. To put it simply, federal courts can hear child pornography cases if they involve interstate or foreign commerce, a.k.a. when the material crosses state or or international borders.

Pre-File Investigation

Sex crimes typically involve a lengthy investigation before any arrests are made or charges are filed. In a federal case, this may involve federal investigators or cybercrime teams who quietly monitor your actions and investigate the allegations. Building a strong case takes time, and as such, these investigations can span many weeks, months, or even years.

It is much easier and more cost-effective to clear your name during the pre-file investigation than it is once charges have been filed. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney during the pre-file investigation will ensure you are acting with your best legal interests in mind. An attorney can work to block the charges before they are filed. Being proactive in hiring a lawyer can save you from arrest and permanent damage to your reputation.

Penalties, Punishment & Sentencing

Under 18 U.S.C. § 2251, producing child pornography faces a minimum of 15 years to 30 years maximum in prison and fines (on the first offense).

Transporting child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce is punishable by a minimum of 5 years to 20 years maximum in prison, as well as fines, under 18 U.S.C. § 2252.

Selling and buying children for the purpose of creating child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2251A is punishable by a minimum of 30 years in prison and fines.

  • Certain activities related to sexual exploitation of minors, i.e. possessing, distributing, and receiving child pornography: 18 U.S.C. § 2252
  • Certain activities related to pornographic material or items containing pornographic material, i.e. mailing or transporting child pornography, advertising or promoting child pornography, and other offenses: 18 U.S.C. § 2252A
  • Production of child pornography for importation into the U.S.: 18 U.S.C. § 2260

Certain factors can substantially increase these prison sentences and/or fines. If convicted, an offender will face stiffer penalties if:

  • The pornographic images are violent, sadistic, or masochistic in nature
  • The minor was sexually abused
  • The offender has prior convictions for sexual exploitation of a child

For example, violating 18 U.S.C. § 2252 by transporting, receiving, or distributing pornographic images via the Internet is normally punishable by a minimum of 5 years and 20 years maximum in prison. However, this penalty increases to a minimum of 15 years and 40 years maximum in prison if the person has a prior conviction for child pornography, sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse, or sex trafficking of children.

Legal Defenses

There are a number of legal defenses you can use to fight federal child pornography charges, including:

  • Lack of knowledge or intent: In order to be guilty on federal child pornography charges, you must have knowingly and willfully dealt with the explicit images. This means you must have known the child was a minor and you must have accessed the content on purpose. Therefore, if you were reasonably unaware the person was under 18 or you accidentally accessed the images (e.g. by clicking on the wrong link or downloading an email attachment without knowing what it was), you could avoid conviction on child pornography charges.
  • Police misconduct: Evidence in child pornography cases is typically obtained by searching the suspect’s home and/or computer. However, police are only allowed to conduct searches when they have a search warrant, your consent, or an emergency justification for doing so; without one of these, the evidence seized is illegally obtained and cannot be used in court. Police misconduct also includes entrapment, in which police officers’ behavior (e.g. harassment, fraud, flattery, threats) caused the defendant to engage in behavior he or she would not have otherwise.

It is important to note that this is just a small selection of possible defenses. After examining the details of your case, an experienced defense attorney can come up with a defense strategy uniquely tailored to your situation.

Contact the Law Offices of Peter Blair

You are more than the charges against you. An experienced criminal defense attorney like Peter Blair can listen to the circumstances of your case, determine the best plan of action for your defense, and help you navigate the complicated criminal justice system.

When it comes to serious criminal charges like federal child pornography, it is in your best interest to be proactive. The sooner you contact an attorney and start working on your defense, the better your chance of minimizing jail time or avoiding a conviction altogether. Mr. Blair can develop a sound defense strategy that gives you the best chance at a favorable outcome, and he will fight relentlessly for you and your freedom.

Don’t let these charges define you. If you are facing federal child pornography charges in Southern California, contact The Law Office of Peter Blair. Call (619) 357-4977 or contact us online to schedule your free and confidential consultation.