State vs. Federal Sex Offense Allegations

Defending Federal Sex Offense Cases

We have years of experience defending sex offense cases in Georgia and we are one of the only firms that truly specializes in these cases. Over the years, we have obtained outstanding results for clients charged with sexual offenses in both state and federal court.

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Prosecutors can sometimes charge sexual offenses at the federal level, especially in child pornography and internet sting cases. While federal convictions can carry harsh sentences, Brody Law Firm has obtained an impressive number of dismissals and acquittals for clients charged in both state and federal courts over the years.

To know whether you may be subject to federal charges, there are several potential signs. Did federal law enforcement agents show up at your house with a search warrant? Has a federal prosecutor notified you or your lawyer that you are the target of a federal sex crime investigation? Have you been arrested for a state law offense that is also subject to federal jurisdiction?

We have years of experience defending against state and federal sex crime allegations in Georgia. We know how to be proactive and conduct our own independent investigations, how to persuade prosecutors, what it takes to avoid formal charges, as well as how to develop and present a compelling defense.

To schedule a consultation, contact Brody Law Firm.

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Federal Sexual Offenses

Many sexual offenses prosecuted under Georgia law may also be in violation of federal law under Title 18 of the United States Code.

Federal sexual offenses may include:

  • Aggravated sexual abuse
  • Sexual abuse of a minor or ward
  • Travelling to engage in sex with a minor
  • Sexual exploitation of children
  • Child pornography offenses
  • Online communications with minors
  • Underage prostitution offenses
  • Human trafficking

How Georgia Sex Crimes Become Federal Charges

There are several reasons why an alleged sex offense can head to federal court.
Usually, more severe sex crimes are prosecuted at the federal level. But there is prosecutorial discretion in where you are charged. Other ways a sexual offense can become a federal charge include:

  • The alleged crime took place on federal property, such as a military base, Native American reservation, national park, or federal building or facility.
  • The alleged crime required crossing state lines or a national border.
  • A federal agency investigated the alleged crime.

Federal court is a separate system from Georgia’s state courts. There are also different penalties. Federal sentences are often harsher than state-level sentences.

The person may face a mandatory minimum prison sentence, high fines, and sex offender registration if convicted.

Federal Child Pornography Charges

Child pornography cases are now heavily investigated by several federal agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Federal agencies constantly monitor online platforms, file-sharing sites, and group messaging apps where child pornography can be distributed.

When law enforcement finds illegal files, they trace those files, including anyone who uploaded or downloaded them, to the IP address associated with the online activity. This often leads to the execution of search warrants and eventually arrests.

Under federal law, 18 U.S.C. §2256 defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct where:

  • Making the depiction involved a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
  • The depiction is a computer image or computer-generated image that is or is no different from a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
  • The depiction was made or changed to look like a minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

A visual depiction can be a photo, film, video, undeveloped film or video, computer image, computer-generated image, or a digital file stored on a computer or electronic device.

When someone is accused of being involved in a child pornography offense, the person may face charges under one of the following statutes:

  • 18 U.S.C. §2251 – Sexual Exploitation of Children: This essentially covers the production of child pornography. This statute provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison for a first-time conviction.
  • 18 U.S.C. §2252 – Activities relating to material involving minors’ sexual exploitation: This covers the possession, distribution, and receiving of child pornography. Charges involving distribution or receipt carry a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence, while possession or accessing with the intent to view have no mandatory minimum. With possession-related offenses, federal prosecutors have a lot of discretion here since it is nearly impossible to “possess” these materials unless they were also “received.” One priority here for the defense is to negotiate successfully with the prosecutor to ensure that the client does not face a charge that carries a mandatory minimum punishment.
  • 18 U.S.C. §2252A – Activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography: This code section is nearly identical to §2252, except this section encompasses “morphed” computer-generated sexually explicit images that are included in the definition of child pornography above, while §2252 is limited to unaltered images of actual minors. Prosecutions based on such “morphed” child pornography images are rare but these statutes can be used interchangeably to prosecute most federal child pornography offenses.
  • 18 U.S.C. §2260 – Production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the U.S.: This code section is mainly used to prosecute offenses that are committed outside the United States.

In federal court, penalties are increased for those with a prior sex crime conviction. For example, if someone is charged with a child pornography offense and has a prior conviction for an offense involving “sexual abuse,” the person will be subject to an enhanced mandatory minimum sentence. Cases with 5-year mandatory minimums can become 15, cases with 15-year minimums can become 25. Possession charges with no mandatory minimums can be subject to a 10-year minimum for those with a prior sex offense conviction.

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I was charged with a serious child pornography crime. Bernard was able to use his in-depth experience and skill and knowledge of computer forensics to prove the allegations against me were false.

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Federal Charges in Internet Stings

Federal agencies also make arrests in internet sting operations. These involve a police officer posing as a minor online. They then attempt to communicate with adults and try to lure them into meeting or sending sexually explicit pictures. These cases sometimes originate with sting operations conducted by federal agencies, while other times it may be a state-level sting arrest that gets prosecuted in federal court.

How We Have Helped Clients Accused of Federal Sex Crimes

We have an excellent track record of helping people prove their innocence or walk away from federal sex crime charges. Here are two examples:

Our client contacted us after federal investigators showed up at his house with a search warrant. They took away multiple electronic devices. We got the U.S. Attorney’s office to agree not to arrest him until after a forensic examination of his devices. Based on the forensic examination results, we successfully argued that the client could not access and was not in knowing possession of any child pornography due to it being stored in the unallocated space of the hard drive. As a result, we were able to help the client avoid an arrest entirely. (Read More)

Another client of ours was arrested on state-level charges in an internet sting operation but was then indicted in federal court. He was accused of communicating with a police officer who was pretending to be a 14-year-old prostitute on Backpage. At trial, we were able to prove that our client did not believe that the girl was really 14 and that he had no intention or desire to have sex with a 14-year-old girl. As a result, the jury found our client Not Guilty. (Read More)

Read our results page to learn more about how we successfully defend individuals against federal sex crimes in Georgia.

More on this topic | Child Pornography | Internet Stings |

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