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Sentencing in Maryland Federal Child Pornography Cases
In federal child pornography cases, sentencing can have a big impact on the severity of punishment you face. With this in mind, the following is what you should know regarding sentencing and the impact an experienced federal Maryland child pornography lawyer can have in this regard. To learn more or discuss the specifics of your case, call and schedule a consultation with an attorney today.
How Does Sentencing Work At The Federal Level For Child Pornography Convictions?
Usually, there is a set of sentencing guidelines that are put together by the court, which take into account not only the kind of case and the facts of the case itself but also an individual’s age and criminal history. Then a judge can make sure that the sentence you might face is in line with the sentence that other individuals who are charged with similar cases might also face.
Is Sentencing Out of My Hands or Can A Lawyer Advocate on Your Behalf?
Your lawyers can absolutely advocate for less harsh sentencing in these cases, particularly if there is no mandatory minimum that the judge is required to impose. In the criminal system, sentencing guidelines are discretionary and if the judge feels that it is appropriate to go below the guidelines, the judge certainly has that option. An attorney can be extremely helpful in presenting the court with information about your background to help the judge understand who you are and why a different sentence than what the guidelines offer might be appropriate.
Does The Prosecution Advocate For a Specific Sentence As Well?
It depends on the plea agreement and it depends on the nature of the case. Certainly, the prosecution can advocate for the same sentence that the defense is asking for or it can have a very different request other than what the defense is asking for.
What Are Some Aggravating Factors In Federal Child Pornography Sentencing?
If a child pornography case involves individuals that are infants, that is a factor that can be aggravating. If the child pornography involves children that are being beaten in some way or exploited beyond the typical way that a child pornography case might interpret exploitation, those could be aggravating factors. Additional aggravating factors could involve children that have particular disabilities. Those would all be things that the court would take into consideration as aggravating factors.
How Can They Impact Sentencing?
Again, the sentencing guidelines take those aggravating factors into account, and a judge could be influenced by them. Also, when the guidelines are in a particular range, the judge has the ability to hear from the prosecution and the defense within that range. When the judge hears about some of those aggravating factors—when one party is advocating for one kind of sentence and another is advocating for another kind of sentence—the judge might take those factors into account when determining what the appropriate resolution might be.
What Are Some Mitigating Factors in Federal Child Pornography Cases?
Mitigating factors would include the fact that a person has no prior criminal background, an individual’s educational background, and any sex offender treatment that the individual might have gone through pending trial. Those would be the most common mitigating factors.
How Can They Impact Sentencing?
When parties are advocating for different sides of the case, a judge will hear each side. Then the judge will make the appropriate decision about which way to go based on those mitigating factors and whether the judge is convinced to modify his or her sentence based on that information.
How Much Discretion Do Federal Judges Have in Sentencing?
There is no mandatory minimum being sought by the government. The judges have a great deal of discretion. Most federal judges are what we call “guidelines judges”. They will abide by the guidelines and sentence somewhere in the guideline range. But that is by no means a rule across the board. I’ve seen judges that have gone well below the guidelines or well above the guidelines, depending on the additional factors that might aggravate or mitigate a particular criminal case.