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 monitoring the internet and social media to protect young people.
As far as determining when the feds will become involved in an obscene material transfer, first, it has to affect interstate commerce or foreign commerce somehow for them to have jurisdiction over it.
Unfortunately, for those charged with federal crimes related to this offense, it is straightforward to affect interstate commerce – either by a telephone, a computer, or another device – and the feds will become involved if they believe the situation is serious enough.
Their policy on when they become in obscene material transfer seems to hinge upon the extent of the obscene material and who is doing it, and how young the victim is.
If multiple images are being transferred and distributed, and there are numerous victims, this would probably be a scenario where the federal government would become involved. 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 last twenty-five years, I've been involved with defending cases involving sex crimes and the transfer of obscene material. Many years ago, a famous quote by a Supreme Court Justice was trying to decide whether something was considered indecent material.
He said, “I know it when I see it.” That doesn't give us a perfect definition of what obscene material is. Still, it has to do with nudity and children being involved and somebody trying to do something to either satisfy their 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. They don't realize 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 send that information to, which is sent to the FBI to investigate and prosecute.
And obviously, they have the funds and the backing of the federal government. They have expert forensic people and the latest cutting-edge technology to hunt down and prosecute those involved in the transfer of obscene material throughout the United States.
They will even go after individuals who transfer obscene material or commit other sexually-related offenses involving 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 manner without there being consequences to it.
Learn What You Can do 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 the state and federal levels regarding a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1470 in transferring obscene material. Again, the feds typically will not get involved unless it's a dire situation – multiple images involved – various victims involved. Otherwise, they will let the state deal with this type of offense and prosecute those 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 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 telling me precisely what happened. Then we can start to talk about any potential defenses.
Once I have all the information, I'll utilize my experience dealing with these types of offenses. We will develop a plan that considers all of the essential things you have to lose related to your job, family, and freedom. Call a federal sex crime defense lawyer at our law firm to review your case.