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Court of Appeals Upholds 50 Year Sentence for Child Porn

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The United States Court of Appeals recently upheld the 50-year sentence for a man convicted on child pornography charges. The defendant, Douglass Scheels, was charged and ultimately convicted of one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of production of child pornography. The district court imposed the 50-year sentence after determining that United States sentencing guidelines suggested the crime should receive a four-level enhancement. Under this provision in United States law, it is required that a defendant who is convicted of an offense involving material that is sadistic, masochistic, or otherwise portrays violence for sexual gratification receive a four-level enhancement in sentencing. 

During the trial, the defendant conceded that the child pornography he possessed did, in fact, contain images that were sadistic or masochistic in nature including images of bondage and whipping. However, the defense argued that the four-level enhancement to his sentence should not apply because the sadistic nature of the images was directed at the defendant and not the victims in the images. 

The Court of Appeals 

Ultimately, the Court of Appeals disagreed with this argument and upheld the original 50-year sentence imposed on the defendant. The central argument during the appeal was whether the sadistic or masochistic content portrayed in the imagery needed to be directed against the victim to warrant the four-level increase in sentence. The court chose to reject this argument as they found that the sadistic or masochistic content only needed to be involved in the content and it did not matter who it was directed against. The court determined that the defendant’s crime led to a minor participating in sexual activity that was sadistic in nature and because of this offense it did not matter if the conduct was directed at the defendant.

Why The Defense Failed 

The argument of the defense failed because there was not any legal precedent in place to support the point he was trying to make. The defense did cite cases referencing instances where sadistic acts in child pornography were defined as a situation where the act depicted would have to be painful, but the court did not find this notion to be meaningful. Instead, the court ruled that these examples were essentially meaningless to the defense’s appeal, thus, ultimately moving to uphold the district court’s original sentence. 

Reach Out to Us for Help with Your Case 

Any crime sexual in nature can have drastic ramifications for your life going forward. Under no circumstance should you shrug off a crime of this nature and assume you will be alright. Often times your only help may be the representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney. In the event that you have been charged with a crime in Florida, contact the Baez Law Firm. You will receive aggressive representation as their team will stand up for your rights and ensure you are being treated fairly. Do not take this threat to your freedom lightly; call 800-588-BAEZ today for a consultation.

Resources:

media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/201515405.pdf

ussc.gov/guidelines/2015-guidelines-manual/2015-chapter-2-e-k

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