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house Bill H.R. 1761

Should the Intent Requirement for Child Pornography Crimes be Eliminated?

Argument in favor

Congress needs to close a loophole created by a federal court decision that let a predator sexually abuse a child, take pictures, and admit it but avoid conviction for child pornography because they didn’t engage in the act in order to create the images.

Dawn's Opinion
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05/25/2017
The loophole needs to be closed but there does need to be a provision or protection for sexting (i.e. stupid) teenagers. Let's be cognizant that there is a big difference between an adult predator and a teenager showing an idiotic lack of good judgement. The adult needs prison time the child doesn't. The teenagers should not get off completely but at most a night in jail and stern lectures from law enforcement and a judge should encourage them to think before they act.
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lorak2000's Opinion
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05/25/2017
To those who want an exception for teens who sext, maybe a better option is to teach the teens that sexting is not only immoral but illegal and will change their lives forever.
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Deva's Opinion
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05/25/2017
I have worked with many teenagers who have distributed the pictures sent to them to their friends. While I'm all for consensual sexting, their needs to be protection so that the pictures are not distributed and put up online without the senders consent. I have seen girls have their naked pictures put online by their ex boyfriends and used as revenge porn. Sometimes, there needs to be a signal to youth to be responsible for what is sent to you.
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Argument opposed

This bill means well, but by allowing more individuals (potentially “sexting” teenagers) to be prosecuted for producing child pornography more convicts would be subjected to mandatory minimums, which are wrong under all circumstances.

TuckerWantsLiberty's Opinion
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05/25/2017
The "Why vote Nay" explanation on this bill is exactly right. When the loophole that this bill aims to address closes, it's going to catch a LOT of people who actually are innocent of any crime (maybe guilty of poor decision making, but not guilty of committing a crime). Maybe the intent of this bill is fine, but the actual effect will be to inappropriately make a bunch of truly innocent people into criminals over night. And mandatory minimums are never okay.
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Derek's Opinion
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05/25/2017
Sexual predation is a serious crime, but this loophole exposes potentially innocent people who would then have to deal with an unearned stigma. Nobody wants to protect the sexual exploitation of children, but this bill broadens the law to the extent that teenagers can be caught up in crimes for poor decisions, but nothing particularly illegal.
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Joy's Opinion
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05/25/2017
I'm all for protecting our children but I don't support mandatory sentencing for anything. Judges should have the discretion to assess the severity of the crime and sentence appropriately. So if this bill would funnel more defendants into mandatory sentencing, some of whom are teenagers engaging in consensual sexting, I think the risk that we actually harm children with this bill is too great to ignore.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed May 25th, 2017
    Roll Call Vote 368 Yea / 51 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedMarch 28th, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 1761?

This bill would broaden the coverage of current laws related to the sexual exploitation of minors related to the production of child pornography, effectively allowing the government pursue cases that otherwise wouldn’t have been prosecutable. It closes a loophole created by a federal appeals court decision in U.S. v. Palomino-Coronado that allowed a defendant to escape conviction for sexually abusing a child and taking pictures of the act because he didn’t engage in sexual activity with the victim in order to take the pictures, so there was no intent to produce the child pornography.

Impact

Those accused of producing child pornography and their victims; law enforcement; and the court system.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1761

The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would have an insignificant impact on the federal budget because of the small number of offenders who’d be affected.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) introduced this bill to close the loophole in existing law that was created by a federal appeals court ruling in U.S. v. Palomino-Coronado that reversed the conviction of a child sexual assault because the court couldn’t find intent to produce child pornography:

“When I arrived to Congress, I was surprised to learn of a court-created loophole in our federal law that allows a predator to ADMIT to sexually assaulting a child in many circumstances and still evade punishment. Today, I filed legislation to fix that. The Protection Against Child Exploitation Act will ensure any future perpetrators receive the justice they so rightly deserve.”

Several Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee expressed their opposition to this bill on the grounds that it would subject more convicts to mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years, including potentially “sexting” teenagers:

“Although well-intentioned, the bill’s resulting expansion of section 2251 would subject more individuals, including young people prosecuted for “sexting,” to substantial mandatory minimum prison sentences. We have long-opposed the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences because they are unjust, cause prison overcrowding, waste taxpayer money, and defy common sense.”

This legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee on a voice vote and has the support of six cosponsors, all of whom are Republicans.

 

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: JobsForFelonsHub via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017

Official Title

To amend title 18, United States Code, to criminalize the knowing consent of the visual depiction, or live transmission, of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and for other purposes.

    The loophole needs to be closed but there does need to be a provision or protection for sexting (i.e. stupid) teenagers. Let's be cognizant that there is a big difference between an adult predator and a teenager showing an idiotic lack of good judgement. The adult needs prison time the child doesn't. The teenagers should not get off completely but at most a night in jail and stern lectures from law enforcement and a judge should encourage them to think before they act.
    Like (112)
    Follow
    Share
    The "Why vote Nay" explanation on this bill is exactly right. When the loophole that this bill aims to address closes, it's going to catch a LOT of people who actually are innocent of any crime (maybe guilty of poor decision making, but not guilty of committing a crime). Maybe the intent of this bill is fine, but the actual effect will be to inappropriately make a bunch of truly innocent people into criminals over night. And mandatory minimums are never okay.
    Like (123)
    Follow
    Share
    Sexual predation is a serious crime, but this loophole exposes potentially innocent people who would then have to deal with an unearned stigma. Nobody wants to protect the sexual exploitation of children, but this bill broadens the law to the extent that teenagers can be caught up in crimes for poor decisions, but nothing particularly illegal.
    Like (82)
    Follow
    Share
    I'm all for protecting our children but I don't support mandatory sentencing for anything. Judges should have the discretion to assess the severity of the crime and sentence appropriately. So if this bill would funnel more defendants into mandatory sentencing, some of whom are teenagers engaging in consensual sexting, I think the risk that we actually harm children with this bill is too great to ignore.
    Like (59)
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    It would be interesting to know how many for profit prisons are in this rep's district that have a guaranteed quota to be filled by the state.
    Like (53)
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    This bill attempts to hide its real intent by appealing to the emotions of voters! Rework the bill to remove the potential for violating the human rights of young people participating in "sexting", and refocus its targeting of real sex offenders! This is a perfect example of creating a law that will later have to be found unconstitutional and have to be redone anyway. Do the upfront work!
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    This bill is too draconian in its measures. We need to smartly address the separate but related issues of sexual assault against minors and the recent explosion of sexting and other forms of risqué communication between teens.
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    To those who want an exception for teens who sext, maybe a better option is to teach the teens that sexting is not only immoral but illegal and will change their lives forever.
    Like (21)
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    I'm not okay with prosecuting sexting teenagers, I think that's a matter for their parents to punish. Fix that so you can nail the real predators and not some kid's bad choices and I'll vote yay.
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    This legislation is too broadly written. It needs more time in the committee oven to be distilled down to a more specific and effective piece of legislation.
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    I'm all for closing "loopholes" and particularly with pornographers. This bill is light on information and ramifications. What happens if a 16 yo is caught whizzing on a bush during football practice and another player takes his picture as a prank?
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    I see many people saying "yay" because they believe that "sexting" is "immoral". Like it or not, many teens have sex, and in this day and age, that sometimes involves the use of their phones. Sentencing them to mandatory minimum sentences will not stop teenagers from being sexual human beings, and this will likely lead to young lives ruined by a record, and jails/prisons continuously overcrowded, even more so than they already are.
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    The only outcome of closing this loophole is unfairly prosecuting young people, especially teenagers. It defeats the entire purpose of laws regarding sexual abuse if innocent people are convinced under those same laws.
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    As usual, this is totally misleading and has alterior motives. Sexual predators should be able to be convicted as the law stands. Changing it would just leave naive consenting sexting teenagers and parents taking photos of their naked babies vulnerable to prosecution. I am sure this bill is not well intended.
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    Sex crimes are horrendous period end of story. But the entire legal code for sex crimes needs revamping. There is too much wrong with it and too many kids are getting caught up in the system when they are not violent sex predators nor likely to become one.
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    If someone sexually abuses a child, prosecute them for that regardless of whether or not there was also "intent" to create pornography. You gain nothing by closing a minimally important loophole and potentially punishing (relatively) innocent people in the process.
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    I can't believe I have to vote Nay on a bill designed to protect children, but this one is so vaguely written that it actually could pose harm to children and young people. Please re-draft this bill and resubmit.
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    With the increasing possibility of our electronic equipment to be hacked and files placed on our devices without our knowledge, this is not good. It can jeopardize people who had nothing to do with files these files being on their computers.
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    I agree that abuse of a child should be punished, but not by bypassing the law. The courts need to handle legal issues vs our government.
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    Somewhat like using a chainsaw to do brain surgery, the bill means well, but by allowing more individuals (potentially “sexting” teenagers) to be prosecuted for producing child pornography more convicts would be subjected to mandatory minimums, which are wrong under most circumstances.
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