Tag - Sex Offender

Child Pornography Laws And Penalties

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.

Dmitry Gorin, ESQ
Eisner Gorin LLP

Four Texas Men Sentenced in Sexual Assault Case

Four Texas men were sentenced to 15 years in prison each after pleading guilty to repeatedly sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl. Prosecutors in the case claim that in 2010, a then-11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted on at least five occasions by as many as 20 different men. The attacks were said to have occurred between September and December of that year. Police began investigating the incidents after a schoolmate of the unnamed victim told their teacher that he had seen video footage on a cell phone of men having sex with the girl. Six of the men accused of assaulting the girl were juveniles at the time of the attacks, while the remaining 14 defendants are adults. All but one of the defendants has pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The single defendant who decided not to plead guilty and whose case went to trial, Eric McGowan, was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 99 years in prison last month. McGowan, who had been out of jail on bail at the start of his trial, disappeared from the court during a break on the first day of testimony, which included the testimony of the now 13-year-old female victim. McGowan was arrested two weeks later in Houston.

Legal experts following the case believe that, given the severity of the punishment McGowan received, the remaining defendants saw that it would be to their advantage to strike a plea bargain with prosecutors and try for shorter prison terms. Four men were sentenced last Friday: Timothy Ellis, who is 20 years old, Rayford Ellis, Jr., who is his cousin and 21 years of age, Kelvin King, 23, and Jared McPherson, 20. All four men were not only sentenced to 15-year prison terms, but were ordered to register with authorities as convicted sex offenders upon being released from prison.

In two unrelated cases, Rayford Ellis also pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter stemming from an incident in 2008 while King pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated sexual assault following an attack on a different girl in 2009. Both Ellis and King received additional 15-year sentences for these cases, and the presiding judge ordered the sentences to be served at the same time as the prison terms they received for assaulting the 11-year-old girl.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors declined to comment after the sentencing since the case is ongoing and there is a gag rule in place to prevent anyone connected from speaking about it.

Tarzana Man Pleads Guilty to Charge of Distribution of Child Pornography

A Tarzana man has agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of distribution of child pornography this past week. Al Abrams, who resigned from his post as the president of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners in 2011, was arrested by local and federal officers in August of last year. Investigators searching his home found hundreds of images and videos of child pornography, some of which included children under the age of 12 and even infants engaging in “sexually explicit conduct” or in sadistic or masochistic situations. Abrams admitted to investigators that he had amassed the collection over more than a decade. Abrams was charged earlier this year in February with eight criminal offenses that included possessing, distributing and receiving child pornography using peer-to-peer file sharing programs on the internet. Under terms of the new plea bargain, Abrams will most likely be sentenced to anywhere from five to eight years in prison and lifetime supervised release once his prison term is served. Abrams will also be required to pay a fine of $5,000. After his arrest last year, Abrams, who owns a public relations firm that has worked on promoting ballot measures in Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and Walnut Creek, reportedly told a local television station that his illegal behavior could be blamed on a growth on his spine that left him with a split personality and made him more disposed to do things he would not normally have done. The growth has since been removed.

For many people convicted of a sex crime such as the possession of child pornography, no amount of public relations work will be enough to repair the damage done to their reputation. In most cases, having prison time on your record is damaging, though not insurmountable. But in a field such as public relations that is seemingly so much about a person or a company’s image and their perception by the public, being convicted of a serious sex crime may effectively end Abrams’ career. Long after his prison term has been completed and he has been released back into society, Abrams will have to be supervised by a probation or parole officer and will likely be required to register as a sex offender. In many cases similar to Abrams’, it is likely that a defendant will also be required to keep a specified distance from areas where children are known to congregate such as parks or schools.

Granada Hills Driving Instructor Arrested for Child Molestation

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, a man who owns a driving school company is accused of molesting a 17 year old boy. Police also fear there may be other victims. Joselito Valencia Danan is a 44 year old owner of Valleywide Driving School which is based in Granada Hills. He is charged with misdemeanor sexual battery of a juvenile after being accused of fondling a teenage boy during his driving lesson.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is also seeking information from other potential victims who may have been molested by the man.

This event took place on August 16, when the driving lesson occurred. The LAPD always prosecutes sex crimes to the fullest extent of the law, especially when the accused works with underage people. Teachers, driving instructors, coaches and others will face severe penalties if they are arrested for and charged with a sex crime with an underage person.

Punishments for sex crimes such as the ones the driving instructor faces include:

  • Being placed on the sex offender registry. Inclusion on the Meghan’s Law List could ruin a person’s chances of getting a job, moving into a neighborhood and more. In fact, when a criminal defense attorney represents someone accused of a sex crime, this is always a big concern.
  • Jail time. Depending on the severity of the crime, which includes the sex acts, the age of the victim, the number of occurrences and so forth, jail time could be severe. To make matters worse, people charged with sex crimes against children are treated very brutally in prison.
  • Probation. Probation may not sound like a big deal, but if the person on probation gets arrested for any other reason, DUI, theft crime or even something minor, it could lead directly to jail time.
  • Fines. There are a number of fines and restitution programs for sex offenders.