Legal Blog

Federal DOE Employee Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

October 14, 2011

Joseph Butler, a career employee of the Federal Department of Education, was arrested today on possession of child pornography charges.

According to today’s press release, Butler is accused of accessing child pornography websites from his work computer.  Federal agents were contacted in June by DOE network administrators and an investigation ensued.  Later, a search warrant was executed at Butler’s home where his personal computer was seized.

The six count federal indictment (filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia) charges Butler with both possessing and receiving child pornography.  This is significant since, under federal law, the receipt of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum five year sentence while the possession of it does not.  This disparity has received much criticism as it is essentially impossible to possess pornography without having also received it.  In these cases, the prosecution has the ability to decide which individuals will be prosecuted for receipt as opposed to possession.

Federal criminal defense lawyers in Georgia, and throughout the country, vigorously oppose this uneven treatment and have been advocating for our federal legislators to correct it.  We have been successful in many of our cases in convincing the government to dismiss these charges carrying the mandatory sentence which then permits us to argue for sentences as low as probation for our clients.  We have also been successful in challenging search warrants for our clients’ homes and computers and we are routinely able to get evidence suppressed when it is obtained as a result of an unlawful search.

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