Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Internet
The United States Department of Justice has a website specifically designed to alert the public about what happens to people involved with the sexual exploitation of children in the United States, which is defined under 18 U.S.C. § 2251.
This has become a substantial political issue across the country. The Federal government and its prosecuting agencies and Federal agents have massive task forces set up to stop people from exploiting children on all fronts.
Over the past twenty-five years, I have seen developments in the Federal area of prosecuting sex crimes related to children. Since the internet has come into play and people have been doing things on the internet associated with exploiting children for sexual purposes, the Federal government has set up task forces and laws designed to stop these people from doing this.
There are mandatory minimum sentences of 5, 10, 15, and 20 years related to children's activities and exploitation. Federal agents are all over the internet and are arresting people all over the internet that lead them to other people.
The common thing that I see is that once the Federal agents get information and email and IP addresses related to people involved in the receipt, distribution, and production of child pornography, they then send their agents to that person's house with a search warrant.
They come into the house either forcibly, or they're let in. They take all of that person's devices – computers, phones, tablets, and then they interview the person and see if they can get them to acknowledge if they're the only one who uses those devices and even recognizes that they are in the possession has received child pornography.
They'll also look on the computer and see if they can find any downloads and then ask the person about it and see if they can get them to incriminate themselves.
Once they seize all these devices, it usually takes them anywhere from six months to a year, or even longer, for their forensic computer experts to go through the devices and see what's on there.
Trying to encrypt the devices and put passwords on them will not stop these experts from finding whatever's been downloaded on that particular device. Then eventually, they will give it to a prosecutor, and the person will be prosecuted for whatever is found on the computer and whatever activities they were involved in.
I get involved in these cases early, and I will contact the agents and the prosecutors after everything has been seized, and I will let them know that I am on the subject.
I will also let them know that I'm available to answer any of their questions and cooperate with them so we can get a leg up on things and hopefully avoid you being arrested six months to a year down the line. We can work something out with them if they find child pornography so that things can be dealt with civilly.
Social Media and the Sexual Exploitation of Children
Social media is also being used to exploit children across the country. The authorities know this, and there are all kinds of watch groups and different mechanisms designed to stop people involved in sexually using children across the internet.
I have seen cases filed through people posting things and communicating on Craig's List, Facebook, and other platforms utilized to receive and distribute child pornography.
The prosecutors can get subpoenas and get all the information, and all the social media platforms will cooperate with them. Then they get all the conversations being had, the photographs delivered, and videos. If they have anything to do with the exploitation of children or child pornography, they will track those IP addresses and come back and arrest anybody involved.
Exploiting Children in Other Countries Can Also Lead to Harsh Penalties
The United States government is not just involved with protecting children here in the United States. They are also involved in safeguarding children across the country.
Numerous people are attempting to travel to other countries and using mediums here in the United States to communicate with people in other countries. Their purpose is to for some exploitation of children.
Under these circumstances, the Federal government will arrest the person and prosecute them just as though the crime was being committed here in the United States.
All they need is some connection to the U.S. and some interstate commerce where the person utilizes the internet, for example, or any social media platforms. They can prosecute that person for whatever they're doing.
Whether it is distributing child pornography, producing child pornography, or just photographs or videos, this is a highly prosecuted area of the law today, and anybody being charged with these types of crimes should get in front of a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Strategy for Dealing with a Federal Sex Crime Related to the Exploitation of Children
I have the client come in and go over everything under the cloak of the attorney-client privilege. I utilize my twenty-five years of experience to try and figure out exactly how to defend the case best and mitigate any damages that might flow from it.
Again, these damages can be having to register as a sex offender, having to do a lengthy prison sentence at 85% in Federal prison, losing your reputation, and having a criminal record. So, we like to get you in; we go over everything.
You be honest with us and tell us exactly what information you have related to the crime, and then we will set about seeing what motions can be filed, what experts can be used, and what investigation can be done to protect all your rights.
If that is appropriate, we get together a mitigation package to talk about your character, family, friends, job, and all the good things associated with you. We're going to paint a much different picture than the government is attempting to paint of you to try and turn the tide and protect your rights, freedom, and liberty.