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Federal guidelines regarding child pornography

Most Maryland residents know that possession of child pornography is illegal in both in the state and the nation. However, they may not know exactly how the federal government defines all aspects of child pornography.

It is important to remember that images of child pornography are not protected under the first amendment of the United States. Federal code defines child pornography as any sexually explicit visual depiction that involves a person under the age of 18. This includes digital images and computer generated images as well as photos and videos. Even undeveloped film and stored computer data fall under this guideline.

The federal government's definition of sexually explicit is not restricted only to images of a child engaged in a sex act. A naked picture of a child can also fall under this category if it is sexually suggestive. Federal regulations also state that the local state age for sexual consent is immaterial. According to the federal government, any representation of someone under the age of 18 having explicit sexual contact remains illegal.

While possession, production and distribution of child pornography are illegal, it is also illegal to coerce, induce or persuade a minor to engage in sexual activity in order to produce a visual representation of that behavior according to the federal government. Anyone who tries to do this can also be prosecuted under federal law.

Federal jurisdiction regarding child pornography applies if the US Mail was used to transport the images between states. It also takes priority over state jurisdiction if the internet is used to commit the crime.

Just like other sex crimes such as sexual assault, anyone convicted of violating federal child pornography laws faces severe penalties. Any first time offender convicted of producing child pornography may face a prison sentence between 15 and 30 years. Therefore, anyone accused of possession or producing child pornographic images needs to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source:, "Citizens guide to U.S. federal law on child pornography," Accessed July 18, 2015

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