If convicted, people who have been accused of possessing, receiving or distributing child pornography could face a minimum of 5 years in prison. Under Pennsylvania's Megan's Law, a person facing state charges related to child pornography could also be required to register as a sex offender.
Because of the nature of the Internet, child pornography charges often carry a federal status, and that means the penalties for a conviction could be very serious. In some cases, however, it may be possible to have the allegations kept out of federal court and moved to a county court. Given the severity of penalties attached to a federal conviction, such a move could prove beneficial for the defendant.
A former Pennsylvania minister is undoubtedly hoping for a more favorable outcome after having his case transferred to a Bucks County court. The move will allow him to avoid federal charges related to child pornography and child molestation.
The 60-year-old is facing 26 counts of possession of child pornography and two assault charges. Authorities claim that he molested two minor girls and that about 300 images of child pornography were found on his computer.
In order to avoid federal charges, the ex-minister has reportedly agreed to plead guilty in the Bucks County court. At the time of a Dec. 18 report, the man was still being held in the county prison.
In many cases, when a person is facing federal child pornography charges, federal investigators have already gathered a significant amount of evidence. However, every accused individual is afforded the due process of law, and police and prosecutors do make mistakes. Pennsylvania residents who have been accused of a federal Internet crime should be aware of their rights.
Source: ABC 27, "Ex-Pa. minister avoids federal porn charges," Dec. 18, 2013