Child Pornography Charge Disparity

Child pornography charges are incredibly serious, and over the past ten years the federal government has significantly increased the punishment for possession, receipt and distribution of child pornography.

For comparisons sake, let’s look at the differences in child pornography sentencing in 2004 (prior to the passage of the PROTECT ACT) and 2014. The sentences listed below represent the typical range of punishment for both possession of child pornography and receiving of child pornography, according to the United States Sentencing Commission.

Conviction: Possession of Child Pornography

2004: 27-33 months in prison

2014: 78-97 months in prison

Conviction: Receipt of Child Pornography


2004: 41-51 months in prison
2014: 97-121 months in prison

Child pornography sentencing and technology

The sentencing guidelines that are currently in effect have not been updated in a decade.  As a result, they do not account for significant changes in technology – particularly the widespread use of peer-to-peer file sharing networks (also known as P2P file sharing networks).
The outdated guidelines, coupled with significantly higher sentences, have convinced some judges to begin passing sentences that are below the guidelines.  As a result, there is tremendous disparity in the sentences for child pornography related offense.

Navigating child pornography charges

The bottom line is that, overall, the sentences for possessing, receiving and distributing child pornography are much higher than they used to be.  In an environment where there is ever-increasing
enforcement and punishment of child pornography laws it is absolutely critical to have an experienced lawyer, particularly a lawyer who understands the current technology being utilized, on hand.


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