Most of our readers have probably heard about the case of Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former representative for New York’s 9th district. Weiner served in the position from 1999 to 2011, when he resigned after it was publicly reported that he had engaged in sexting. Weiner was subsequently involved in two more sexting scandals, the third of which precipitated his separation from long-time Hilary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

The third sexting scandal, which stems from sexting that occurred in July 2015, may result in more than just the loss of Weiner’s marriage. Because Weiner is accused of sending sexually explicit photos to a 15-year-old girl, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. attorney’s office are reportedly considering potential child pornography charges.

Child pornography is obviously a serious charge, and carries stiff penalties under federal law. According to the Department of Justice, federal law defines child pornography as the visual depiction of sexual conduct involving a minor. Images do not need to depict children engaging in sexual activity to be considered sexually explicit. Sexual suggestion can be enough. Neither does the age of consent for sexual activity of the child matter, since any sexually explicit depiction of a minor is illegal under federal law.

The penalties for child pornography are steep under federal law. For instance, a first time offender convicted of producing child pornography faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years, which is reportedly the prospect Weiner is facing. A fist time conviction can, however, result in up to 30 years in prison, not to mention significant fines. A conviction of transporting child pornography faces lesser penalties, but harsher penalties yet are imposed when there are certain aggravating circumstances.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic, and particularly at the importance of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney when facing possible child pornography charges.

Source: Department of Justice, Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography, Accessed Feb. 7, 2017.