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Sexual Exploitation of Children

Federal Sexual Exploitation of Children Defense Attorney

The sexual exploitation of children is a separate federal offense that also includes production of child pornography. Anyone who makes an attempt to induce, entice, or persuade a minor to engage in sexual conduct to make a video, picture or other images is guilty of the federal crime of sexual exploitation.

Federal child pornography laws describe a minor as anyone under 18 years old. It should be noted you can still face federal criminal prosecution even in a situation where your conduct occurred outside of the United States.

However, it's should also be noted that in order to face federal prosecution for production of child pornography in a another country, the federal prosecutor must be able to prove you had intent to send, or make available, child pornography material anyone in the United States.

If convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 2251, sexual exploitation of children, the legal penalties are severe.  There is a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of 30 years. However, the exact sentence for a child porn or sexual exploitation conviction will always depend on a wide range of factors and by the calculation of the federal sentencing guidelines.

For example, a federal sentence for sexual exploitation case will hinge on how many images or videos you possessed or distributed, age of the minors, and type of sexual conduct the images. There is a sentence enhancement if you have engaged in a pattern of similar conduct, even if never charged or convicted of a sex crime.

In order to give reader useful information about sexual exploitation of children charges under 18 U.S.C. § 2251, our federal criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

Employs, Persuades, Coerces a Minor to Engage in Sexual Conduct

18 U.S.C. § 2251 defines and criminalizes the sexual exploitation of children. It provides different categories of behavior which are considered child sexual exploitation – and it also provides severe punishments for this type of criminal conduct.

In order to understand the application of this federal criminal statute, we will describe the type of conduct this statute prohibits, list some examples, and review the statutory punishments for each category.

18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) states it's a crime to for anyone to employ, use, persuade, entice, or coerce a minor to engage in, or have another minor assist to engage, or transport a minor affecting interstate or foreign commerce in the United States, with the intent that the minor engages in sexually explicit conduct to produce any visual depiction of sexual conduct to transmit a live visual depiction of the conduct.

The primary purpose of this subsection is to prohibit the production of child pornography.  Since Section 2251 codifies this conduct as a federal crime, as opposed to a state crime, there must be some interstate activity.  It could include just using the internet or even the mail – but if the conduct occurred within just one state alone – it would not normally be prosecuted under this statute.

A classic example of violating 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) would include someone transporting a minor across state lines in a vehicle with the intent to film child pornography.

18 U.S.C. § 2251(e) states that a person can be punished with anywhere from 15 years to life in prison – depending on prior record – and other aggravating factors. Transportation of minors is defined under Title 18 U.S. Code 2423.

Parents or Legal Guardians of Exploited Minor

18 U.S.C. § 2251(b) provides substantial punishment for the same type of conduct, but specifically targets the parents or legal guardians of an exploited minor.

It makes it a federal crime for any parent, legal guardian, or someone having custody or control of a minor, who knowingly allows the minor to engage in, or assist another person to engage in, sexually explicit conduct to produce any visual depiction of the conduct to transmit live visual depiction of the conduct.

A classic example of violating 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) would include a situation where a parent allows their underage child to be filmed for the purpose of child pornography, even in cases where the parent doesn't participate in the filming themselves. A closely related federal offense is Selling or Buying of Children – 18 U.S.C. § 2551A.

The legal penalties for a conviction are the same as subdivision (a), which is it carries a potential life sentence in federal prison, again depending on prior criminal history.

Sexual Exploitation of Children Outside the United States

18 U.S.C. § 2251(c) provides penalties for anyone who employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces a minor to engage in, or anyone who has a minor assist any other person, any sexually explicit conduct outside of the United States or territories, for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of this conduct.

As you can see, the primary difference in this subdivision is the requirement the conduct has to occur outside the United States or its territories knowing, or should have reasonably known, that producing child pornography would be distributed in the country.

A violation could take the form of a foreign national who is producing child porn, then distributes the images or videos via the internet to other people who live in the United States.  It should be noted a conviction under this subsection carries a potential life sentences.

18 U.S.C. § 2251(d) specifically addresses the issue of printing or publishing of advertising either seeking or offering child pornography, or for children to be exploited in the producing child porn. Again, a violation carries a potential life sentence.

Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Clearly, 18 U.S.C. § 2251, sexual exploitation of children, provides a comprehensive statutory scheme that deals with producing, distributing, or advertising child pornography. It also deals with exploiting minors who are victimized by child pornography, either by a stranger, or their own parents, inside or outside of the United States.

All the federal sexual-related offenses discussed above are considered a serious violation of federal law. If you or a family member has been accused of violating any part of 18 U.S.C. § 2251, you will need to retain an experienced federal criminal defense attorney immediately to protect your rights and have the best chance of a favorable outcome.

Eisner Gorin LLP is a criminal defense law firm located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067. We defend clients against any type of federal crime nationwide. Call our law firm to review your case and legal options at 877-781-1570.

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