Articles Posted in Child Pornography

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The United States Congress and federal courts have developed a legal framework for prosecuting people suspected of engaging in the production of pornographic materials involving children. In order for federal child pornography charges to be applicable to an alleged crime, prosecutors must prove that the federal government has jurisdiction over the alleged crime. The Eleventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals recently released an opinion affirming a man’s federal child pornography conviction, which the court assumed jurisdiction over based on the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

According to facts discussed in the recently published appellate opinion, the defendant was arrested and charged for attempting to produce child pornography in Florida after he allegedly sent disturbing messages to the users of a parenting website. The defendant, posting under an alias, appeared to have requested pornographic material from several different parents who had been discussing their children on the website. A concerned user reported the defendant to law enforcement, who obtained a warrant and searched his home. Images of child pornography and other sexually disturbing material involving children were found at the home. The defendant was then charged in federal court for attempting to entice parents to produce child pornography and send it to him over the internet. Based on his clear requests and other evidence of his sexual interest in children, a jury convicted him on the attempted production counts, and he was sentenced to decades in federal prison.

The defendant appealed his conviction to the 11th Circuit. The defendant argued primarily that his conduct was not a sincere attempt to obtain child pornography and was acting only as an “internet troll” who was being abrasive and offensive just to upset people for his own entertainment. The defendant argued that there was no real chance that any of these parents would follow his request and produce child pornography for him involving their children. The Appeals court was not persuaded by the defendant’s arguments. The court held that his desire to possess child pornography (demonstrated by his actual possession of such images at his home), coupled with his repeated, explicit requests for such material online, constituted sufficient evidence from which a jury could convict him. As a result of the appellate decision, the defendant will most likely be required to serve his federal prison term.

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