How serious are federal child pornography charges?
They are extremely serious, given the possible punishments.
Take the case of Travis Fulton, a former Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter who now faces up to 70 years in prison after being charged with possession of child pornography, receipt of child pornography and sexual exploitation of a child.
As reported by ESPN, the record-holding MMA veteran was named in a recently unsealed indictment. He will have his federal case tried in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division.
According to the charging document obtained by ESPN, Fulton tried to get a minor under age 18 to “engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of such conduct” with a Canon PowerShot camera. This allegedly was on or around November of 2020.
The indictment also accuses Fulton of knowingly possessing or attempting to possess visual depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including a depiction of a minor under 12 years of age, on a flash drive. The flash drive was shipped across state lines, making this an alleged federal crime.
In the charging document, Fulton also is accused of receiving and attempting to receive child pornography via “interstate and foreign commerce.” Since the flash drive and camera were purchased outside the state of Iowa, that also elevates this to an alleged federal crime.
Under federal child porn laws, images do not necessarily have to show a child engaged in sexual activity to be considered illegal child pornography. Also, images of child porn are not protected by Americans’ First Amendment rights granted by the United States Constitution.
Fulton also faces domestic assault charge
The Waterloo-Cedar Rapids Courier also reports that Fulton already is awaiting trial on domestic assault and willful injury charges stemming from a September 2019 incident. According to the newspaper, he allegedly punched a woman who had to go to a hospital with facial injuries.
Fulton, who is 43 and an Iowa native, holds the MMA record for career professional fights, with 320 dating back to 1996. For that he was nicknamed “The Ironman” by the MMA.
Child porn charges can be state crimes as well
Child porn charges can also be applied on a state level and the possible state punishments for such charges can be severe, particularly in the state of Texas.
For instance, the penalties for possessing child pornography in Texas include a sentence of 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for distributing or intending to distribute child porn images. They also include a sentence of 5 to 99 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for possession of child porn if the child shown or depicted in the sexual imagery is younger than 14 years old.
Such penalties can increase if a person has prior convictions for the same crime, and they also can be applied for each count.
Just last year, a man in Spring, Texas was sentenced to 30 years in prison for 3 counts of possessing child porn, or 10 years in prison for each count. Ten years is the maximum penalty for a single count of possession of child porn, which is a third-degree felony.
Get an experienced child porn defense lawyer
If you or someone in your family faces a charge involving child pornography, you must take that seriously by seeking the best criminal defense lawyer you can find for Houston, Sugar Lane, The Woodlands, Conroe or elsewhere in Harris County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County.