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Avoiding Jail Time in Federal Child Pornography Cases

Posted by Dmitry Gorin | Nov 05, 2019 | 0 Comments

Our criminal defense law firm has represented many clients in California State and federal courts who were facing child pornography related charges – including possession and distribution.

In most child porn cases, before a defendant is actually indicted, federal law enforcement agencies have already conducted such a thorough investigation that includes electronic records and forensic computer analysis that they can't reasonably claim they were not in possession of contraband images depicting minors engaged in sexual activity.

Effective legal representation from a seasoned federal criminal defense lawyer – even in child porn cases where guilt or innocence is not in doubt – is crucial to obtaining the best possible outcome on the case.

Our decades of experience taught us that there are several important steps a federal criminal defense attorney can take to advocate for a sentence that will recognize critical mitigating factors in our client's life in an attempt to avoid a jail sentence.

To give readers useful information about potentially avoiding a federal prison sentence for a child pornography conviction, our federal criminal defense lawyers are providing an over below.

Federal Child Pornography Charges – 18 U.S.C. 2252

Title 18 U.S. Code Section 2252 makes it a crime to willfully possess, create, distribute, or transport child pornography.

The Child Pornography Prevention Act defines “child pornography” as a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct – whether it's made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or by other means. This statue criminalizes possession, receipt and distribution of sexual images of children.

In other words, it's a federal crime to willfully possess, distribute, or access child pornography with intent to view. If convicted, you could be sentenced to up to 15 years in federal prison for each offense, along with being listed on sex offender registries.

A criminal investigation of child pornography occurs in in many forms. Frequently, it includes an undercover operation in a chat room where federal law enforcement agents will pose as an adult interested in child pornography images of videos.

Sexual Exploitation of Children under 18 U.S.C. 2251 is a closely related federal crime and punishes people who attempt to persuade a minor to produce child pornography.

Defense Strategies to Avoid Federal Prison

Our federal criminal defense lawyers can use a wide range of strategies in an attempt to convince a federal prosecutor not to seek incarceration in in a federal prison. Every case is unique and will first require a close review of the details. Let's review some strategies below.

Volume and Nature of Child Pornography

A significant factor to determine the chances of avoiding jail time for any defendant indicted for a federal child pornography offense is the volume and nature of the images or videos that were seized by law enforcement.

For example, if they were in possession of a small number of images depicting teenagers – this fact would be considered a less serious offense by federal prosecutors – than possession of large number of images depicting younger children.

Direct Steps to Meet of Communicate with Children 

A defendant's conduct which could show a predatory disposition toward children is also a relevant factor in sentencing.

For example, if evidence exist that a defendant took direct steps to meet children for sex, or communicated with them directly, the goal to pursue jail time would be a lot stronger based on a need to protect the community.

Our lawyers may be able to show there was no attempt to actually meet or communicate with minors, and that you are not a sexual predator.

Mitigation Information Package in Child Porn Cases

In an attempt by a criminal defense lawyer to convince a prosecutor to forgo incarceration in child pornography cases, crucial mitigating information is the key.

A federal prosecutor's main concern is normally the risk that criminal behavior will recur, or escalate. In order to deal with this reasonable issue, a defendant could enroll in a treatment program or even seek therapy from an experienced mental health professional that specializes in child porn issues.

This attempt would also hopefully address the underlying mental health issues which lead them to possess these contraband images.

This form of documented intensive therapy, is a very strong mitigating factor which shows a defendant is commitment to rehabilitation and prevention of recidivism.

Validity of Search Warrant Challenge

While our federal criminal lawyers are presenting a strong mitigation package to the prosecutor to avoid jail time, we can also make a challenge on the legal basis for the child porn charges.

In most prosecutions of child pornography cases, federal law enforcement agents obtain evidence of offense through the execution of a search warrant. This means they will typically seize a defendant's electronic devices in order to be forensically analyzed by specialists.

Therefore, making a challenge as to the validity of search warrants is a crucial step for a defendant charged with a federal child porn case. In many cases, the probable cause used to support the search includes posts allegedly connected to a defendant's IP address -or other types of identifying information that was transmitted through the internet.

It may be possible to show that the connection between the alleged online activity and the defendant is way too speculative to justify a search of their home and seizure of their property.

In this type of situation, a motion to suppress could be filed in court in order to prevent the evidence that was seized from being used in court. Even in situations where a motion to suppress is not a sure thing for success, the prospect of potentially losing a suppression hearing could provide enough encouragement to a federal prosecutor to offer a favorable resolution – that includes no jail time.

Yet another factor for consideration in sentencing for child pornography offenses is whether prosecution is sought by California State or by federal prosecutors.

In a California State criminal court, it's more likely to avoid a jail sentence, especially in cases where a defendant was involved is a minor instance of child porn possession and they have no prior criminal history.

Federal sentencing for child pornography convictions are much more severe and typically includes some period of incarceration in federal prison.

Federal Child Pornography Defense Attorney

It's important to note that in the context of avoiding jail time, every child pornography criminal case is unique – different – and the outcome will always depend on the specific details of the case, type of conduct, prior criminal history, and willingness to participate in treatment.

It also matters greatly which courthouse filed the child porn case – whether state or federal – among other factors. Our seasoned federal criminal lawyers will thoroughly review the details of the case, potential defenses, and any opportunity for a favorable plea bargain.

If you, or a family member is facing federal child pornography charges, contact our law firm to start preparing a defense to achieve the best possible outcome.

Eisner Gorin LLP
1875 Century Park E #705
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(877) 781-1570

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About the Author

Dmitry Gorin

Dmitry Gorin is a licensed attorney, who has been involved in criminal trial work and pretrial litigation since 1994. Before becoming partner in Eisner Gorin LLP, Mr. Gorin was a Senior Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles Courts for more than ten years. As a criminal tri...


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