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Federal Child Pornography Sentencing Guidelines

May 20, 2019

Federal sentencing guidelines provide a point of access for all federally appointed judges in the United States to use during penalty distribution. For the crime of child pornography, these sentencing guidelines are intended to provide justice to the victims of sexual child abuse and trafficking by means of pornography. The federal child pornography sentencing guidelines include several points of references for the penalization of offenders. This crime can be charged in three categories which include first, second, and third degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

First Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

This crime is committed in any of the following circumstances:
  • An individual allows, encourages, or forces a minor to engage in sexual activity for live performance or for a video recording
  • An individual allows a minor in his care to engage in sexual acts for a live performance or video recording
  • An individual transports or assists in the transport of minors across or through a state for the purpose of allowing that minor to engage in sexual activity for the purpose of producing a live performance or video recording
  • An individual captures a minor engaging in a sexual act on a video recording or receives financial gain from this activity

First degree sexual exploitation of a minor is a Class C Felony and carries a minimum sentence of 73 months in prison with a maximum of 25 years in prison. These sentences can be multiplied depending upon the amount of counts that a violator is charged with.

Second Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

This crime is committed in any of the following circumstances:
  • An individual conducts, produces, or distributes any visual representation of a minor performing sex acts
  • An individual distributes, receives financial gain from, exchanges, or solicits any visual representation of a minor performing sex acts
  • An individual assists in the transportation of a minor to be placed in the care of a person producing a visual representation of the minor engaging in sex acts

Second degree sexual exploitation of a minor is a Class E felony and carries a minimum of 25 months in prison and a maximum of 7 years in prison.

Third Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

This crime is committed in any of the following circumstances:
  • An individual possesses a visual representation of a minor engaging in sex acts
  • An individual transports material that includes a minor engaging in sex acts
  • An individual gains income from the possession of a minor engaging in sex acts

This crime is a Class H felony and is punishable by a minimum prison sentence of four and a maximum prison sentence of 4 years.

It is vital to remember that individuals charged with federal child pornography violations are often charged with many counts of individual violations. This can, and often does, impact the maximum prison sentences, adding up to 50 years to some sentences. An individual charged with and convicted of 4 counts of second degree sexual exploitation of a minor, for example, faces a maximum prison sentence of 28 years in prison. Additionally, there are very few criminal charges that carry the negative stigma that child pornography charges carry. While a violator may occasionally stumble across a lenient judge, most judges will prescribe the maximum sentence according to federal sentencing guidelines.

Being brought up on charges of federal child pornography can be devastating to many people involved in the situation, including the victims of sexual abuse. The federal guidelines for sentencing a violator of child pornography crimes are harsh due to the nature of the crime, but this does not mean that certain individuals may not be wrongfully accused and prosecuted. For information regarding lawyers who specialize in the defense of those charged with federal child pornography, please visit the United States Federal Child Pornography Sentencing Guidelines Website. This page provides a large amount of useful information about the legality of specific material. Because a harsh stigma can be brought about from simply being charged with this crime, it is best to gather legal advice early on in the process.

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