Child exploitation is one of the most serious criminal offenses one can be charged with. Unlike some other crimes that are governed by Massachusetts law and dealt with accordingly, cases of child exploitation will usually fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government since they are federal crimes. There are laws on the Massachusetts books concerning the crime as well, however, and depending on the situation one may be tried on a state level as well as on a federal level.
This crime concerns any type of exploitation of a child including the following actions.
- Child sexual molestation
- Possession of child pornography
- Manufacture of child pornography
- Online enticement of children for sexual acts
- Child sex tourism
- Distribution of child pornography
Under these laws, 'child' is used to refer to any minor who is under the age of 18 years old. The pornography in question can be photos or videos, and can be in digital form, printed form, or any other type of form available.
These crimes go far beyond the scope of just Massachusetts law in most cases, and a number of state, local, and federal authorities are often involved in the prosecution of those accused of these crimes. Agencies that may be involved include:
- US Attorney's Office
- US Department of Justice
- US Customs Service
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- State Police
- Sheriffs' Offices
- Attorney General's Office
- County Prosecutor
- State Attorney
- And morw
Essentially, these agencies all work together in building a case against those who practice child exploitation. As a result, investigations can be very complex and take years to complete.
Child exploitation, or child sexual exploitation, is punishable by harsh penalties. This is a felony crime that is taken very seriously and can be punished under the law by a 10,000 dollar fine, 12 years in prison, and forfeiture of property. It's important to note that different sets of laws may be used in the prosecution of those accused of these crimes and that multiple sentences could occur. For instance, imprisonment in a federal institution could be sought while in other cases long state prison sentences are levied instead. In many cases prosecutors attempt to resolve the case without a trial, seeking plea arrangements instead of forcing victims to appear as witnesses. In these cases, slightly reduced sentences may be offered in exchange for a guilty plea.
It's also not uncommon for serious prison sentences to be laid down at a federal as well as a state level. In these cases, the federal and state sentences will be served consecutively. When time is served in a federal prison, the prisoner will be transferred to a state prison and serve their state sentence. This often leads to very lengthy prison sentences and is used in many cases that violate state and federal law.
Massachusetts takes child exploitation cases very seriously, as does the federal government. Those charged with these crimes will face long prison terms, large fines, and a stigma that will follow them for the rest of their lives as they must register as sex offenders after their release.