What Is The Crime Of Child Pornography And The Associated Penalties?

A sheriff's deputy in North Dakota has been arrested for possession of child pornography.

The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation received a tip from Google that the accused had allegedly uploaded child pornography to Google Drive.

The North Dakota BCI located 249 child pornography images when they investigated further.

The deputy was arrested after a search warrant was conducted on him and his residence.

Authorities did not find additional images on the seized electronic devices owned by the accused. However, according to the affidavit in the case, the perpetrator was in group chats with names that are "associated with child pornography."

The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office has placed the deputy on administrative leave, pending the conclusion of the investigation. Sav Kelly "Ramsey County (N.D.) sheriff's deputy arrested, accused of possessing child pornography" https://www.grandforksherald.com/news/north-dakota/ramsey-county-n-d-sheriffs-deputy-arrested-accused-of-possessing-child-pornography (Jan. 13, 2023).

Commentary and Checklist

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, federal law defines child pornography as, “any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (Persons less than 18 years old).”

Furthermore, “visual depictions include photographs, videos, digital or computer generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor, and images created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor.”

Also, undeveloped videotape, and electronically stored data that can be converted into a visual image of child pornography are also deemed illegal visual depictions under federal law, according to the DOJ.

The DOJ also says, the legal definition of sexually explicit conduct does not require an image to show a child engaging in sexual activity. If an image shows a naked child that is “sufficiently sexually suggestive,” this may constitute illegal child pornography.

Also, any depiction of a child younger than 18 engaging in sexually explicit conduct is illegal regardless of the age of consent for sexual activity in any given state. The DOJ emphasizes that images of child pornography are not protected under the First Amendment. Images of child pornography are illegal contraband under federal law.

What are the penalties for possession of child pornography?

  • First time offenders convicted of producing child pornography face fines and a statutory minimum of 15 years to 30 years maximum in prison.
  • First time offenders convicted of transporting child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce face fines and a statutory minimum of five years to 20 years maximum in prison.
  • If the offender has prior convictions or if the child pornography offense occurred in aggravated situations (i.e. violent, sadistic, or masochistic images; or the minor was sexually abused; or the offender has prior convictions of child sexual exploitation), the convicted offender may face up to life imprisonment.
  • An offender can be prosecuted under state child pornography laws in addition to, or instead of, federal law.
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