Top Federal Child Pornography and CSAM Defense Attorneys

The United States government is vigilant when it comes to the enforcement of child pornography laws and laws criminalizing the victimization of children.

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Child Pornography and CSAM Cases are Aggressively Prosecuted

The reason child pornography cases are rigorously prosecuted by the Government’s most aggressive and effective Assistant United States Attorneys is the long-lasting harm caused to children as a result of being victimized and exploited. The harmful impact on children that results from their images being widely available online is tragic. Because children are such vulnerable victims, prosecutors, police, federal law enforcement agents, and judges are known to be extraordinarily aggressive and punitive in these matters. Punishments by courts for federal offenses frequently include stiff prison sentences and often have mandatory minimum prison requirements. A federal judge is required to consider the Child Pornography Sentencing Guidelines when imposing a sentence. A top defense lawyer will leave no stone unturned when advocating for the lowest possible guideline range.

The downside to aggressive law enforcement comes into play when the government is overzealous in its prosecution, violates a defendant’s civil rights, or presses for punishment without considering a person’s individual circumstances or possible mental health issues.

New amendments to the federal child pornography sentencing guidelines involve cases where there are images or videos of infants and toddlers and also for cases involving the distribution of pornography. Both amendments result in potentially longer sentences. Sentencing guidelines in federal court require the calculation of offense variables and prior record variables. When these variables are scored and compared to a sentencing guidelines charge, they result in a recommended sentencing range. The higher the variables, the higher the recommended sentence. Only experienced defense lawyers are equipped to advocate for the lowest possible sentencing guidelines.

New Child Pornography Sentencing Enhancements

Before the amendment, a provision existed for a 4-level enhancement of the offense variable if images depicted sadistic or masochistic conduct. The change adds an alternative basis to apply the enhancement if an infant or toddler is depicted (even if there is no basis for finding sadistic or masochistic conduct).

The second amendment involves cases where there is a conviction involving the distribution of child pornography. There were cases before the amendment where a defendant’s use of a computer unknowingly resulted in an image being sent from his computer to another computer or server. This inadvertent distribution resulted in a 2-level enhancement to the offense variable. The amendment now requires that the defendant must knowingly engage in distribution. The accidental, unintentional, or unintended distribution of an image or video is no longer sufficient to trigger the 2-level enhancement under the federal child pornography sentencing guidelines.

Additionally, there is a second part of the second amendment of the sentencing guidelines. The 5-level enhancement applied in cases where the distribution was for financial gain has been changed to apply where anything of value is exchanged. The government will seek to apply this enhancement in cases where child pornography is traded or exchanged.

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Is prison required under the federal child pornography sentencing guidelines?

Prison is not required under the federal child pornography sentencing guidelines, even if the guidelines suggest a prison sentence is appropriate. The federal sentencing guidelines, established by the United States Sentencing Commission, were initially designed to create consistency and fairness in sentencing across federal courts by providing a structured framework for determining sentences in criminal cases. These guidelines were mandatory, meaning that judges were required to follow them in determining a defendant’s sentence unless there were compelling reasons for departure.

However, the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Booker in 2005 significantly changed the status of the federal sentencing guidelines. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the mandatory nature of the guidelines violated the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. As a result of the Booker decision, the federal sentencing guidelines became advisory rather than mandatory. This means that while judges are still required to calculate the recommended sentencing range based on the guidelines, they are no longer bound by it. Instead, they have the discretion to consider a broader range of factors, including the specific circumstances of the case and the defendant’s individual characteristics, when determining an appropriate sentence.

The advisory nature of the federal sentencing guidelines allows for more flexibility in sentencing. It allows judges to exercise their discretion and consider each case’s unique facts and circumstances, which is seen as a way to promote fairness and tailor sentences to the individual defendant, rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach mandated by the guidelines.

Alternatives to Prison for Those Convicted of Child Pornography Charges

When individuals are convicted of child pornography charges, the criminal justice system often seeks to impose penalties that prioritize punishment instead of rehabilitation. While imprisonment is a common consequence for such offenses, there are sentencing options that the Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has persuaded judges to consider as alternatives to incarceration. These alternatives address the underlying issues, provide treatment, and reduce the risk of reoffending. Some alternatives to prison for those convicted of child pornography charges include:

  • Probation or parole: In some cases, individuals may be sentenced to probation or parole instead of incarceration. This option typically involves supervision by probation or parole officers, compliance with strict conditions, and mandatory participation in treatment programs.
  • Community-based programs: Some jurisdictions offer community-based programs specifically designed for individuals convicted of child pornography offenses. These programs can include counseling, therapy, and sex offender treatment. Participants are closely monitored and must adhere to strict rules and reporting requirements.
  • Restitution and fines: Courts may order individuals convicted of child pornography charges to pay restitution to the victims, covering the costs of therapy, counseling, or other support services needed by the victims. Additionally, fines may be imposed as part of the sentence.
  • Electronic monitoring: Electronic monitoring, such as ankle bracelets, can be used to track the movements of individuals convicted of child pornography offenses. This measure can help ensure compliance with court-ordered restrictions and protect potential victims.

House arrest or home confinement: Some individuals may be sentenced to home confinement or house arrest as an alternative to incarceration. This involves restricted movement and close monitoring by law enforcement or probation officers.

  • Treatment and therapy: Mandated participation in sex offender treatment programs, counseling, and therapy can be an integral part of an alternative sentencing plan. These programs aim to address the underlying issues that contribute to criminal behavior.
  • Combination of sanctions: Courts may combine various sanctions and alternatives to create a tailored sentencing plan that addresses the unique circumstances of each case.

These alternatives often require strict adherence to treatment and supervision, and violations may result in incarceration. Courts typically consider the safety of the community and the likelihood of rehabilitation when determining the appropriate sentencing option for individuals convicted of child pornography offenses. If you face felony child pornography charges, you can call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. for a free consultation and confidential case evaluation. We are not here to judge you. Our mission is to help. All clients of our firm are treated respectfully and with dignity.

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Criminal Defense Attorneys for Federal and State Charges

If you or a loved one is under investigation or accused of possession, distribution, or production of child pornography in state or federal court, you can count on the government being aggressive, thorough, and focused on a lengthy punishment. It takes a top defense lawyer with a solid reputation to demonstrate to a court that the defendant deserves an opportunity to be rehabilitated and should not simply be “thrown away” into the prison system. The attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are not afraid to challenge aggressive prosecutors, law enforcement, or federal judges.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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