Difference Between State (Virginia) & Federal Child Pornography Charges

May 01, 2024

If you are facing federal pornography crime charges in the state of Virginia, then you may be charged by local or federal authorities. It’s important to note that the jurisdiction in which you are charged will have an impact not only on potential penalties, but also general proceedings. Based on your Virginia state or federal child pornography crime charges, an experienced Virginia child pornography defense lawyer can help you develop optimal defense strategies that yield positive results.

By understanding the difference between federal and Virginia state child pornography charges, you can better equip yourself to understand and anticipate associated legal hearings and proceedings. Furthermore, you can know what potential penalties to expect, as well as work to adapt your defense strategies to the type of crimes that you are facing.

Federal Child Pornography Charges

Under federal law, child pornography is generally defined as any visual media that exhibits a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts.

A minor is defined to be an individual under the age of 18, and sexually explicit acts are defined as being “actual or simulated” sexual acts. However, it’s important to understand that an actual sexual act does not always have to be present for it to be considered pornography.

Federal law prohibits possessing, receiving, distributing, and manufacturing child pornography. While federal law generally requires an interstate or foreign commerce element, this is typically satisfied anytime a computer or the internet is used, even if the images do not actually cross a state or international boundary.

Federal convictions for child pornography crimes include mandatory minimum sentences, with the potential to spend decades in prison. Even mere possession of child pornography can result in long sentencing periods. While there are general sentencing guidelines, actual sentences will vary based on case details, such as the criminal history of the defendant and the nature and extent of the alleged crimes.

Virginia State Child Pornography Charges

Virginia state child pornography crime laws are similar to those defined by federal statutes, with the main difference being that the prosecution is led by the state of Virginia instead of the federal government. Child pornography laws in the state of Virginia and those of the federal government were both created to protect children from being victims of such crimes. Therefore, in Virginia, the sentencing periods and associated fines are also severe for the crime.

Under the Code of Virginia § 18.2-374.1:1, it is illegal to possess, reproduce, distribute, solicit, or facilitate child pornography. Even possession under VA state law is a felony crime associated with severe penalties. Under Virginia law, all child pornography is subject to seizure and forfeiture lawfully.

Sexually explicit material that exhibits individuals who are not under the age of 18 but appear to be is also considered to be pornography under Virginia law. Virginia code further defines the felony classification of individuals who are operating websites that are used for the purpose of purchasing and viewing child pornography content.

Legal Representation for VA State and Federal Child Pornography Charges

While there are differences in child pornography laws in Virginia state versus the federal government, individuals who are facing charges either on the state or federal level should immediately seek legal counsel if they are facing charges. An experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyer can help them understand the charges and potential penalties they are facing and work with them to protect their rights and design an effective criminal defense strategy.


Q: What Is the Federal Definition of CSAM?

A: CSAM stands for child sexual abuse material and refers to any kind of materials that show a minor who is engaging in sexually explicit acts. Child pornography is explicitly defined under certain federal statutes in the United States, in which it is considered to be any kind of visual material that features sexually explicit content involving a minor. Sexually explicit conduct is broadly defined and can include many different acts, such as showing the genitals in a sexual manner.

Q: Who Is Creating and Sharing CSAM?

A: Some studies have shown that child sexual abuse material is generally made and distributed by people who have also committed acts of abuse against minors in the material, with the minor often having had a relationship of trust with the perpetrator.

Typically, such offenders will leverage grooming techniques, such as gift and compliment-giving, to normalize the situation and try to keep the situation secret. The offenders generally tend to be male, with perpetrators playing a range of roles in positions of power, being teachers, coaches, parents, and other figures.

Q: Is Possession of Child Pornography in Virginia a Felony?

A: Yes, it is a felony crime to possess child pornography in Virginia. In some cases, simply downloading or streaming content can be considered receipt or distribution of child pornography, which is typically treated more harshly. Therefore, if you are facing child porn crimes charges, it is critical to contact a criminal defense lawyer who can represent you immediately.

Q: What Is the Child Pornography Prevention Act?

A: The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 2005 is an extension of the previous federal code that elaborates on the definition of production to include videotaping, photographing, filming, and digitally manipulating images that could contain child porn content.

Start Fighting Back Today with a Virginia Child Pornography Defense Lawyer

The experienced and knowledgeable team at Johnson/Citronberg, PLLC, is here to help you understand your state or federal child pornography crime charges and assist you with finding viable solutions for the situation.

We provide a non-judgmental and safe space for you to express your anxieties and grievances and to tell your side of the story. Based on your desired case outcomes, we will investigate your case to bring key evidence and arguments to the table, fighting to get you optimal results. Contact one of our Virginia criminal defense attorneys today to get started discussing your case.

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