Child pornography, according to federal law, refers to any visual depiction of conduct of a sexually explicit nature involving a minor—a minor is a generic term for any person whose age is less than 18. Child pornography is one of many forms of child sexual exploitation, all of which are illegal under Federal law. Consequently, child pornography falls within the confines of child sexual abuse, with images of child pornography aptly referred to as child sexual abuse images.
Federal law prohibits interaction of any sort with child pornography. In a more succinct description of its ban on child pornography, the federal child pornography laws prohibit the possession, reception, importation, distribution, or production of child pornography. Stiff statutory penalties are reserved for lawbreakers, legally referred to as convicted offenders, for all violations of federal laws on child pornography.
How Child Pornography Thrives Today
Child pornography has for a while being an unfortunate reality with the proliferation of adult content. However, law enforcement in the United States had embarked on several large-scale campaigns with renewed vigor by the third and last quarter of the 20th century. By the mid-1980’s, child pornography had hit an all-time low, many thanks to the successful campaigns.
The impact of these campaigns were mainly to hamper production—making it expensive and difficult; to cut down on distribution, reception, and possession—by eroding the possibility of anonymizing these aspects of proliferating child pornography; and ensuring that communication between pedophiles were hampered greatly.
Unfortunately, the success was short-lived, no thanks to the advent of advanced digital technology and the Internet (aka the World Wide Web). The dying beast gained succor from the anonymous nature and widespread connectivity of the Internet. Through the Internet, child sexual abuse images could be created (produced), accessed (possessed), and shared (distributed) easily without geographical confines.
Virtually all Internet channels were exploited—bulletin boards, peer-to-peer networks, newsgroups, IRC (Internet Relay Chart), instant messaging, email, social networking sites, and websites. This illegal use of the Internet is highlighted by the ability to communicate desires, experiences, and interests centered about the abuse of children (which often transcends beyond child pornography to other forms of child abuse). In addition, child pornography offenders indulge in the sales, trading, and sharing of child sexual abuse images.
The most damning effect of this misapplication of the Internet is how child pornography online communities promote communication between child pornography lawbreakers. This is two-fold. First, these communities seek to normalize the decadent interest in children. Secondly, the communities numb offenders to the psychological and physical damages inflicted on the victims of child abuse. More so, these online communities are instrumental in increasing the number of offenders and prodding new individuals to get involved in child sexual exploitation.
Jurisdiction Over Child Sexual Abuse
Although, there are federal laws stipulated against child pornography, child sexual abuse matters are typically handled by local and state authorities. Two major reasons for this approach are:
- In general, states have wide-reaching authority within their jurisdiction
- The authority of the federal government has constitutional limitations
Based on this premise, the Department of Justice does not have jurisdiction over child pornography matters.
Nonetheless, if a case of child sexual abuse transpires on federal lands, for example in an Indian territory or in a military base, the offender may be tried under federal law. Sometimes, the prosecution may be solely under federal law: at other times, it may be in addition to state law.
Child Sexual Exploitation In Territories Outside the United States
In the law, this is referred to as extraterritorial sexual exploitation of children. Federal law only dictates steep penalties for American citizens who engage in any form of child sexual abuse outside the shores of the United States or United States controlled territories.
In accurate terms, extraterritorial child sexual exploitation refers to the act of an American citizen engaging in any form of sexual conduct with a child in a foreign territory. Federal law clearly prohibits this act. Furthermore, federal law prohibits an American citizen to assist or help organize another person to travel to a foreign country with intent to engage in sexual activity with a child in that country.
The crime of engaging in any of these aforementioned acts is referred to as child sex tourism and is classified as a form of human trafficking. Stipulate penalties under the law include steep fines and prison time of up to 30 years.
Broward Criminal Lawyer
As a former Broward sex crimes prosecutor, Kenneth Padowitz applies the extensive experience, knowledge, and skills that he gained as a prosecutor into criminal defense, effectively representing clients charged with child pornography and other serious offenses.
Investigations into child pornography cases often include police operations involving the monitoring of Internet activity on blogs, social media, and other interactive websites. By tracking information online, law enforcement may gather evidence to support sex crime charges. Local law enforcement and the FBI lead investigations into potential cases where prosecutors suspect that a defendant has possessed, sold, or distributed child pornography.
If you have been accused of or charged with possession of child pornography of any kind, or believe you may be charged sometime in the near future, give Broward criminal lawyer Kenneth Padowitz, a call to discuss your situation. Kenneth Padowitz is an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney with trial-proven results from cases across the United States. Don’t let this accusation rob you of your freedom. Call Kenneth Padowitz, P.A. today.