Federal authorities are intent on arresting child pornographers and sex traffickers. The accused will face a long prison sentence if convicted of these felonies, and often, a virtual lifetime of reporting as a sex offender thereafter. The law, however, does not adequately make a distinction between an actual producer of child pornography and a passive user of such material on the internet.
An Illinois man was recently indicted by a federal grand jury on child pornography charges. The indictment was generated by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, along with a special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) in Chicago. The charges are three counts of transporting child pornography over the internet.
With each charge carrying a five-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of 20 years, the defendant faces a potentially lengthy prison sentence. The 27-year-old man is not apparently charged with producing child pornography or having personal contact with children. As egregious as the charges sound, the man appears to be accused of looking at such material on the internet and possibly downloading it onto his hard drive. The very act of accessing photos on the internet may, in some cases, suffice as "transporting" child pornography.
By the nature of internet transactions, a person accessing a single photo may traverse several different states to get a file from a distant server. That may be called transporting, but it may not qualify under statutory interpretations. It appears that the accused here is not charged with dealing or distributing child pornography. In addition, at this point, it is not even known whether the material in dispute would even qualify as child pornography.
It also appears that he did not actually produce the material. In any of those scenarios, the federal authorities in Illinois would have put forth far more serious felonies. Despite the heinous circumstances of child pornography, a seasoned defense attorney must provide aggressive representation where the accused may be caught up in actions that do not justify the depth and seriousness of the claims against him.
Source: ice.gov, "Federal grand jury indicts Illinois man on child pornography charges", Jan. 11, 2017