Federal prosecutors made an announcement they seized and then shut down the world's largest child pornography website and filed multiple charges against the operator of the website. A South Korean man, Jong Woo Son, 23, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia.
The dark web site had over 200,000 sexually explicit videos involving children and used Bitcoin to conduct business. It was reported that over 7,000 Bitcoin transactions were processed to access videos during a three-year period.
The website would encourage users to upload videos with a process granting users points to access even more videos if their uploads were popular. The English language website was called “Welcome to Video,” and showed sex acts involving children, toddlers and infants.
The ringleader was already serving a prison sentence in South Korea on similar charges. Even though the website was only accessible on an anonymous network, federal law enforcement agents were able to access critical information from the source code.
Federal prosecutors announced they arrested of over 300 suspected users of the website worldwide. To give readers useful information about federal child porn charges, our federal criminal defense attorneys are providing an overview below.
18 U.S.C. 2252 – Federal Child Pornography Law
18 U.S.C. 2252 describes the federal sex crime of child pornography as a visual depiction of a minor, under 18 years old, that is engaged in sexually explicit activity, and can include photos or videos.
Sexually explicit activity includes various conduct, such as intercourse, masturbation or even any lascivious exhibition of their genitals or pubic area – and can also include simple nudity if it's presented in a sexually suggestive manner.
18 U.S.C. 2252 prohibits producing, distributing, receiving, or even possessing any type of child pornography – and also address knowingly searching for and viewing child porn – even if the images are deleted.
For instance, if you are convicted for knowingly possessing child porn, you could face a 10-year sentence. If the minor was under 12-years old, a 20-year sentence. If convicted of distributing or receiving child porn, a 5 to 20-year federal prison sentence. If you have a prior child porn conviction, the penalties will substantially increase.
It should be noted that in a 18 U.S.C. 2252 child pornography case, the sentence will typically depends on the amount of child porn images or videos possessed or distributed – along with the exact age of the minors shown in the sexual conduct.
You could also face large fines and restitution, which is normally required in cases where the victim is identified. A child porn conviction in federal court will also mean mandatory registration as a sex offender.
18 U.S.C. 2251 – Sexual Exploitation of Children Law
18 U.S.C. 2251 sexual exploitation of children is a closely related federal law to the child pornography laws described above.
Sexual exploitation of children law is described as anyone attempting to induce or persuade a minor to engage in sexual explicit activity for purposes of making a video, photos, or other forms of images. As stated, a minor is anyone under 18 years old.
You can face federal prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 2251 sexual exploitation of children in situations where the unlawful sexually explicit activity of minors occurred outside of the United States, such as the take down case of the large child pornography website above.
It should be noted, however, that in order for a federal prosecutor to pursue charges against someone in another county, they must be able to prove they intended to send or make child pornography available to people in the United States.
A conviction for 18 U.S.C. 2251 sexual exploitation of children also carries severe penalties, such as a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years – and a maximum sentence of 30 years in a federal prison.
The specific federal sentence for a child pornography or sexual exploitation conviction always depends on numerous different factors and by the calculation of the advisory federal sentencing guidelines.
There are also sentencing enhancements for anyone who engaged in any pattern of similar conduct, even if they have never been charged or convicted of a sexual related crime.
Closely Related Federal Child Porn Offenses
18 U.S.C. 2251(d) – Advertise Child Pornography
18 U.S.C. 2251(e) – Conspiracy to Advertise Child Pornography
18 U.S.C. 2252(b)(1) – Conspiracy to Distribute Child Pornography
18 U.S.C. 2252(a)(2) – Distribution of Child Pornography
18 U.S.C. 2260(b) – Producing Sexually Explicit Depictions of Minor for Import into United States
Fighting Federal Child Pornography Charges
Our federal criminal defense lawyers represent clients throughout the United States who have been charged with 18 U.S.C. 2252 child pornography, or 18 U.S.C. 2251 sexual exploitation of children.
We have track record of success and are familiar on how to challenge a federal prosecutors case on crucial elements of the crime that must be proven to obtain a conviction.
For example, in some cases, we might be able to make a reasonable argument that the images are not actually minors. While this factor might seem obvious, it's not always so clear-cut that the images depict someone under 18- years-old. In borderline cases, the prosecutor has the burden of proof to show the images are in fact a minor.
Challenge Computer Search
We can retain the services of a computer forensic expert to assist us the independent investigation of whether federal law enforcement authorities conducted a proper and thorough search of your compute, or other devices, to locate and seize the child pornography evidence being used in your federal criminal case.
After an independent review, it might be possible to make a reasonable argument you simply didn't knowingly possess child pornography images on your computer – rather the images were accidentally or inadvertently downloaded and quickly deleted.
This means the forensic computer expert might be able to help us prove the child porn images or videos were not downloaded on your computer on purpose, but it was a mistake – or we might be able to prove the child porn images were included with some legal adult porn images.
Our forensic expert might also be able to show there were no child pornography internet search terms used on your computer browser.
Another potential defense includes showing your computer was maliciously accessed by a peer-to-peer network with software allowing distribution of child porn without your knowledge.
If under investigation or you were already indicted for federal child pornography or sexual exploitation charges, call our office to closely review the details to start planning a strategy to fight the case.
Eisner Gorin LLP
1875 Century Park E #705
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Categorised in: Sex Crimes