Federal Charges—Child Pornography

Charged with a Federal Child Pornography Crime?

Understand Your Rights, Penalties You Face, and Criminal Proceedings

With the advancement of internet technology, images involving child pornography has been easier than ever to produce, receive, share and store. Crimes involving the internet are generally considered as crossing state lines, and therefore, prosecuted under federal law.

While not every crime involving online child pornography will be charged at the federal level, the vast majority of them are handled in federal court. This is an area of law that is constantly changing.

Not all states have the same possession laws or are current in terms of constantly evolving technology. Therefore, federal authorities have more resources and a streamlined set of laws by which to prosecute online child pornography cases.

This area of law is very complex. If you have been charged with an online child pornography crime, you should seek a highly knowledgeable and experienced attorney to help guide you through your trial.

Conviction will lead to lengthy jail time, heavy fines, and required registration on the National Sex Offender Registry. This can lead to a whole host of additional consequences such as loss of your job, professional license, restrictions on where you can live and work, as well as irreparable damage to your reputation. The risks are too great to risk being underrepresented.

At Ketchel Law, we are Sex Crime Lawyers in Pennsylvania who are well-versed in both state and federal court systems and can help you understand your rights and your options to fight against your charges.

If you were indicted on a federal crime, or think you may be charged or are under investigation, contact Attorney Justin J. Ketchel immediately for a free case evaluation.



Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation



Child Pornography Charges 

Child pornography is defined as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. The age of consent for sexual activity is irrelevant. For purposes of child pornography offenses, a minor is anyone under the age of 18 years.

Visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor can include:

  • Photos;
  • Videos;
  • Digital or Computer-Generated Images indistinguishable from an actual minor;
  • Images Created, Adapted or Modified but appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor.

The conduct portrayed in the image or images does not require that a child be engaged in a sexually explicit act. In some instances, an image of a naked child may be sexually explicit enough to draw charges.

Within the crime of child pornography is a host of crimes. It is not only illegal to possess child pornography. It is also a crime to produce it, distribute it, receive it, and to share it. Child pornography charges may also lead to further sex crime charges depending on the circumstances of the crime. Each crime under the general umbrella of online child pornography has its own punishment.

Sex crimes involving children carry some of the harshest penalties. When charged at the federal level, many of them require a mandatory minimum sentence upon conviction.

An arrest is not a conviction.

Being charged with a crime, does not mean that you will be convicted.  It is extremely important that you are represented properly throughout the duration of your case.

If you suspect you are under investigation for a federal crime, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

For a free evaluation, call Attorney Justin Ketchel today: 412-456-1221.

Online Child Pornography Charges

Increasingly, the internet has been used as a preferred method of producing, sharing and receiving child pornography images and videos. It has made this area of law very complex since this includes social networking sites, gaming devices, mobile apps, personal email accounts, file-sharing sites, photo sharing sites, as well as online forums that make it easy for people to buy, sell, and trade in a less detectable manner.

In addition, criminals on the web are often found in what is referred to as The Dark Internet where there is heavy encryption and virtual anonymity. This presents very real challenges to law enforcement.

In addition, it can be tricky to prove intent when the internet is involved. Perhaps someone clicks on the wrong link or is misdirected to a site that contains child pornography. Simply viewing child pornography images is a crime, however, the person had no intention of viewing the images. Or perhaps someone received and downloaded an image, but it was sent by someone unknown to them, and therefore, they had no intention of receiving or storing the image. The crime requires a level of intent that does not exist in either scenario. However, the use of the internet and its broad scope of reach can make it very difficult to determine intentional access vs. mistaken access.

Use of the internet is considered crossing state lines for purposes of determining where the crime took place. As such, federal jurisdiction almost always applies in such cases. This does not mean that you cannot be prosecuted at the state level, only that the federal court has preferential jurisdiction should they choose to prosecute the case. As the internet is used more and more frequently for such criminal activity, this area of law is constantly evolving and rapidly changing as technology advances.



Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation




People typically use social media as a form of self-expression and a means of sharing with friends and the general public. More and more frequently, teens and tweens have been involved in sexting, where they share sexually explicit images of themselves, or others. Both sharing and viewing these images are a crime, and both parties generally have the intent to share.

If one of the parties is an adult, the case becomes very clear. But if both parties are minors, it becomes a bit cloudy. As the law stands, minors can be charged for sharing and viewing such images. This can have very grave consequences for a young person on the cusp of adulthood.

This may require registering as a sex offender for many years, or life. While the intention of the law is to protect children from sexual exploitation, the internet has become so vast and far-reaching that it can be difficult to determine where to draw the line.

But make no mistake, you can be prosecuted in federal court for sharing and receiving sexually explicit images that involve a minor in selfies and on social media.

Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation




Federal laws are harsh and strict when it comes to online child pornography.

Many offenses require a mandatory minimum sentence in federal prison if convicted.

Examples of minimum sentencing for a Child Pornography Conviction include:

  • Child pornography Distribution and Receipt: 5 year minimum prison sentence
    • If you have a prior conviction, your mandatory minimum increases to 10 years
  • Production of Child Pornography: 15 year minimum prison sentence
    • If you have a prior conviction, your mandatory minimum increases to 25 years

The sentencing often depends on the age of the child portrayed, the defendant’s status, and the specifics of the crime; for example, was force, coercion, or violence used in perpetrating the crime. The more negative factors increases the level of punishment received.

How Our Federal Crime Lawyers Can Help

We will stick with you from start to finish.

From the moment you engage Ketchel Law to represent you, we will work tirelessly to ensure every aspect of your defense is addressed at every phase. We will make certain you understand your rights and options so that you are prepared at every turn. From pre-trial hearings through the trial and beyond, we will fight to have your charges dropped or significantly reduced.

With vast differences between state and federal cases, it is extremely important that you have a knowledgeable and experienced federal crimes attorney on your side.

An aggressive and meticulous attorney will gather all evidence and facts about your case, presenting your history to make the best possible defense.

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