Child pornography images are not protected by the rights included in the First Amendment. These are defined as illegal contraband in line with federal legislation. Child pornography is defined by Section 2256 of Title 18, United States Code as any type of visual depictions of sexual conduct that involves an underage individual – a person who has not reached 18 years of age. These visual depictions may include videos, photographs, computer generated as well as digital images that cannot be distinguished from a real underage person as well as images that are created, modified or adapted, but tend to depict an actual minor that is identifiable to the viewer. Furthermore, any kind of undeveloped videotape, undeveloped film and any type of digitally stored data, which can be transformed into an actual image of child pornography will be also depicted as illegal content in line with federal legislation.
It is also worth mentioning that the legal definition of sexual conduct does not demand that an image should depict a child engaged in some sort of sexual activity. In cases where the image of a naked child is sufficiently sexually suggestive, it may also be deemed as illegal child pornography. Furthermore, the age of consent for sexual intercourse in the given state is not relevant – any kind of depiction of a minor that is engaging in sexual conduct is prohibited by law nationwide.
Federal jurisdiction will take place in cases where a child pornography crime took place in interstate or foreign commerce. This may include, for instance, utilizing the US Mail or couriers to transport child pornography across international borders or across the state. In addition, federal jurisdiction will be applied in cases where the internet is utilized in order to commit a child pornography offense, even in cases where child pornography images did not travel across the international borders or the state. Federal jurisdiction may be applied in cases where the materials, including the PC used to download the content or the CD Rom that was used in order to store the content, first originated in the interstate or foreign commerce.
Additionally, Section 2251A of Title 18, United States Code clearly prohibits any parent, legal guardian as well as any other person in custody of an underage individual who has not reached the age of 18 to sell, buy or transfer custody of that individual in order to produce child pornography.
Section 2260 of Title 18, United States Code prohibits any individual outside the US from willingly receiving, producing, shipping, distributing or transporting child pornography with the purpose of transmitting or importing the content into the United States.
Any type of violation of deferred child pornography law is a serious offense and convicted criminals will face harsh penalties indeed. For instance, a first time criminal who was convicted of producing child pornography content under 18 U.S.C. § 2251, will face expensive fines as well as a statutory minimum of 15 years to 30 years maximum in state prison. Furthermore, a first time criminal who was convicted of transporting child pornography content throughout the interstate or foreign commerce under 18 U.S.C. § 2252 will face expensive fines as well as a statutory minimum of 5 years to 20 years maximum in state prison.
Convicted criminals may face even more severe legal penalties in cases when the offender had prior convictions or in cases where that child pornography offense took place in aggravated circumstances that are defined as 1) the images that are sadistic, violent in nature, 2) the minor was abused sexually, or 3) the criminal had prior convictions that were related to child sexual exploitation. In such a situation, the criminal may be facing up to life in a state prison.