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What constitutes illegal access to online child pornography?

It is a serious offense to possess, distribute, sell or produce materials that portray or exploit a minor in a manner that is considered pornographic. Such possession or distribution of online child pornography is a federal crime that carries significant potential penalties if convicted.

A Louisianan may be convicted of online child pornography related charges if he or she is deemed to have transported a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Furthermore, it is also a federal crime to receive or distribute such materials. Significantly, this transportation, distribution or receipt can, and often does, occur via computer usage. Therefore, an individual may not even realize that, under federal law, prosecutors may pursue child pornography charges following access to certain images online.

The potential penalties for an online child pornography conviction include a lengthy prison sentence of a minimum of five years and up to 20 years, as well as a fine. An individual who has a prior conviction that is deemed relevant, such as for sexual abuse or online child pornography, may face a minimum prison sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of 40 years.

There is an affirmative defense available for an individual who possessed less than three illegal images and took steps to either destroy the images or reported the images to law enforcement. Whether such a defense will be available to an individual is a matter that should be discussed with an attorney.

Illegal access to online child pornography is a serious crime. It is important to remember, however, that our Constitution presumes that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty. An individual who has been charged with such a crime ought to seek prompt and aggressive legal counsel.

Source: Cornell University Law School, "18 U.S. Code Sec. 2252," accessed Sep. 23, 2016

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