What is the difference between state and federal charges for possession of child pornography? Federal judges and the prosecution take a look at something called the federal sentencing guidelines, and the judge is required to take those guideline recommendations into account when constructing a sentence. It used to be, twenty something years ago, you might be looking at an average sentence for possession of child pornography for twenty months or less. Now, the average sentence is 2016 is a hundred and eighteen months. It's a huge difference and it's all because of these sentencing guideline recommendations. Congress is taking a very tough stance on possession of child pornography, and of course the sentencing guidelines are draconian.
There are enhancements for everything. If you have 600 images or more on your hard drive, that's a five point mandatory enhancement. On a first offense with someone with no criminal history – you've never been in trouble before – the maximum range is ten years. Those guidelines with those enhancements can put you right up to that maximum range – right out of the gate. So, it's incredibly important to ensure that you get someone who does child pornography cases that can argue these cases to the core and that can construct a good sentencing memorandum and argue as to why these mandatory enhancements should not apply to your case because that's what it comes down to is a lot of sentencing mitigation, and it is worth the time and the expense to get the right attorney involved when you're talking ten years in prison, and it's a big deal on the federal side.