It is a federal crime to distribute obscene material to a minor. More and more I'm seeing the federal government monitoring this type of activity and making sure that young people are protected from the transfer of obscene material through electronic means and otherwise. The federal government has task forces that are monitoring the internet and social media in order to protect young people.
As far as determining when the feds will become involved in an obscene material transfer, first it has to somehow affect interstate commerce or foreign commerce in order for them to have jurisdiction over it.
Unfortunately, for those people who are charged with federal crimes related to this offense, it is very easy to affect interstate commerce – either by a telephone, a computer or other device – and the feds will become involve if they believe the situation is serious enough.
As far as their policy on when they become in obscene material transfer, it basically seems to hinge upon the extent of the obscene material and who is doing it and how young the victim is.
Obviously, if there are multiple images being transferred and distributed, and there are multiple victims, then this would probably be a scenario where the federal government would become involved and certain mandatory minimums could apply depending on the age of the victims and the circumstances.
What is Considered Obscene Material As It Relates to 18 U.S.C. 1470?
Over the course of the last twenty-five years I've been involved with defending cases involving sex crimes and the transfer of obscene material. There was a famous quote by a Supreme Court Justice many years ago, when trying to decide whether something was considered obscene material.
He basically said, “I know it when I see it.” That doesn't really give us a very good definition of what obscene material is, but basically it has to do with nudity and children being involved and somebody trying to do something in order to either satisfy their own sexual interests or the sexual interests of another.
Now, more and more, I'm even seeing Facebook being utilized to transfer obscene images. Somehow the offenders think that the federal government cannot figure this information out. What they don't realize is that Facebook monitors that type of activity, as does Instagram and many other social media platforms.
What they do is, there's a section for sexually exploited children that they can just send that information to and that is sent to the FBI for them to investigate and prosecute.
And obviously they have the funds and the backing of the federal government, they have expert forensic people and they have the latest cutting-edge technology in order to hunt down and prosecute those people who are involved in the transfer of obscene material throughout the United States.
They will even go after individuals who are transferring obscene material or doing other sexually-related offenses that involve children in other countries. So, it's not just limited to the United States.
The government is in the business of protecting children throughout the world and they will not let anyone – whether they be an American citizen or not – go after minors in this type of a manner without there being consequences to it.
Learn What You Can do in Order to Protect Your Rights if You're Being Charged with Transferring Obscene Material Either at the State or Federal Level
I've seen prosecutions at both the state and federal level when it comes to a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1470 in transferring obscene material. Again, the feds typically will not get involved unless it's a very serious situation – multiple images involved – multiple victims involved. Otherwise, they will let the state deal with this type of offense and prosecute those individuals who are involved in the transfer of obscene material.
What you can do is get in front of a federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, give him all the information related to your case so that the attorney can determine whether or not any defenses might apply to your case, or whether it's a situation where you should resolve the matter with the prosecutors as soon as possible.
If it is a situation where negotiation is the best strategy, having an attorney who has negotiated with prosecutors at the federal level and had successful results is obviously crucial to your future.
When I meet with clients, I like them to give me all the information related to their case without putting any spin on anything or adding any extra information and just tell me exactly what happened. Then we can start to talk about any potential defenses.
Once I have all the information then I'll obviously utilize my experience having dealt with these type of offenses, and we will come up with a plan that takes into account all of the important things that you have to lose related to your job, your family and your freedom. Call a federal sex crime defense lawyer at our law firm to review your case.