In this country, there are many different sets of laws, and it can be difficult to understand which laws you must obey in a particular circumstance. For instance, each state has its own set of laws, which means laws can differ state to state. It may be legal for minors age 16 to consent to sex in Washington, while California’s age of consent is 18. There are also federal laws that may differ from state laws.
So how do you know which laws to follow when you cross state lines? Is a consensual relationship in one state illegal in another?
Is Age of Consent a Factor in Child Pornography Crimes? (PC 311)
A recent U.S. Supreme Court case (U.S. v. Laursen 2017 DJDAR 893) gives us some insight into what happens when state laws clash with federal laws.
The case involved a 45-year-old man who was engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl in the state of Washington. The age of consent in Washington is 16, so the man did not commit a crime by having sexual intercourse with the girl (although it would be a crime to have sex with a minor in California). However, the man also took explicit photos of the girl.
As a result, the man was arrested – and later convicted – for violating federal laws regarding the production and possession of child pornography. Under federal law, you cannot produce or possess these types of images of anyone who is under 18 years old.
So, does federal law have the jurisdiction and the ability to prosecute the man for photographs that originated from a legal sexual relationship? Does federal law trump local state laws?
Can All Child Porn Cases Can Be Federal Crimes?
The Supreme Court ruled that federal law takes jurisdiction over state law in this case. Referencing 18 U.S.C. Section 2252A(a)(5)(B), the court reasoned that because the images were stored on a hard drive and memory card manufactured in another country and transported to the U.S., the man violated federal law.
Additionally, the court decided that child pornography possession or production that takes place entirely in one state affects interstate commerce, and thus can be prosecuted under federal law. In reaching this decision, the Supreme Court cited a previous ruling, U.S. v. Sullivan 797 F.3d 623, in which the court explained that “Congress could rationally conclude that homegrown child pornography affects interstate commerce, and therefore Congress may regulate even purely intrastate production of child pornography and criminalize its intrastate possession…”
What Does This Court Ruling Mean for You?
This ruling shows that you need to be careful when it comes to state laws regarding age of consent. Possessing explicit photos of a minor can always be a crime, regardless if the age of consent is under 18 in the state where the minor resides. You could also be charged with child pornography crimes if you are a minor and you take or possess nude photos of your minor boyfriend or girlfriend.
Child pornography is a serious crime with severe penalties. However, an experienced sex crimes attorney may be able to help you fight these charges by using a valid legal defense to child pornography.
Contact the Child Pornography Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or someone you love is accused of a child pornography crime, the best thing you could do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our skilled criminal lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully defending clients facing state and federal charges for child pornography crimes for more than 35 years. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Los Angeles, West Covina, Torrance and Los Angeles, our experienced child pornography lawyers are available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation about your case. We will get through this together.