Recent Amendments to Federal Child Pornography Sentencing Guidelines
Needless to say, the United States government is vigilant when it comes to the enforcement of child pornography laws and laws criminalizing the victimization of children. Punishments by courts for federal offenses frequently include stiff prison sentences and often have mandatory minimum prison requirements.
The reason these child pornography 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 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 taking into account 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 the pornography. Both amendments result in potentially longer sentences. Sentencing guidelines in federal court involve the calculation of offense variables and prior record variables. When these variables are scored and compared to a sentencing guidelines charge, it results in a recommended range for sentencing. 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
Prior to the amendment, a provision existed for a 4-level enhancement to the offense variable if there were images depicting sadistic or masochistic conduct. The amendment adds an alternative basis to apply the enhancement if an infant or toddler is depicted (even if there is not a basis to find sadistic or masochistic conduct.
The second amendment involved those 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, inadvertent or unintended distribution of an image or video is no longer sufficient to trigger the 2-level enhancement.
Additionally, there is a second part to the second amendment of the sentencing guidelines. The 5-level enhancement that 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.
If you or a loved one is charged with an offense involving the 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 to the prison system. The attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are not afraid to challenge aggressive prosecutors, law enforcement or federal judges.
If you or someone you know is charged or under investigation for a criminal offense, do not hesitate to call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will promptly contact you. With LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., you will get a superior defense and be treated with compassion and dignity.