What Makes a Sex Crime a Federal Offense?
The criminal justice system in the United States is complicated. Not only are the laws difficult to understand, but the fact that there are two separate systems of laws – federal law and state law – can also make it tough for an everyday citizen to know when he or she is breaking a law.
Most sex crimes are prosecuted under state law. However, there are times when the incident involves crossing state borders or occurs on federal land, such as national parks or military bases. Other sex crimes, such as child pornography, may involve the use of telecommunications, the internet, or even the U.S. Postal Service, all of which fall under federal jurisdiction.
Crimes Through “Interstate Commerce”
Under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the authority to regulate intestate commerce. This means that federal law applies when persons or things are traveling between states or using the channels that run between states. This not only includes interstate highways, but also data transmission through phone lines and cables (i.e. phone calls, text messages and the internet). These laws also apply to items sent through postal carriers, such as the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx or UPS.
So, if you are charged with distributing child pornography for handing printed explicit images to others, you will likely be charged with a state crime under California Penal Code Section 311.11. However, if you used the internet to send child pornography to others, you could be charged with violating 18 U.S.C. Section 2252(a)(1).
Under this federal law, it is a crime to use any means of interstate or foreign commerce to knowingly transport or ship visual depictions of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. In plain terms, this means it is illegal to send any photo, video, or other image of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Penalties for Federal Sex Crimes
Federal laws have stricter penalties than state crimes. For example, if you are convicted of distributing child pornography under PC 311.11, you face up to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. However, a first-time offender convicted of a federal crime for distributing child pornography faces up to 20 years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000.
Contact the Federal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you are facing federal or state child pornography charges, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled sex crimes attorneys have over 35 years of experience successfully defending clients accused of sex crimes on state and federal levels. We’ve helped thousands of clients in their time of need and we can help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced and skilled Wallin & Klarich defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will get through this together.