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Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

Facing a court-martial, UCMJ action, Administrative Separation Board, or other Adverse Administrative Action for Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography? Call our experienced military defense lawyers at 1-800-921-8607 for a free consultation.

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Note: This law applies only to Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography offenses committed on and after 1 January 2019. Child Pornography is also referred to as Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)

What is Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography?

Article 134 Ucmj Distributing Child Pornography

Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography addresses the offense of distributing child pornography. This crime involves knowingly distributing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The military justice system treats this offense with utmost severity due to the profound harm it causes to victims and the broader societal implications. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2024 ed.)

Penalties for distributing child pornography under Article 134 can be severe, including confinement, dishonorable discharge, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. Given these harsh consequences, it is crucial for anyone accused of this crime to seek representation from the best military defense lawyers.

Court martial lawyers play a critical role in defending against such charges. They possess the knowledge and skills to navigate the complexities of military law, challenge the prosecution’s evidence, and protect the accused’s rights. Experienced legal representation can significantly influence the outcome, potentially mitigating the severe penalties.

Engaging court martial lawyers like those at Gonzalez & Waddington is essential for anyone facing charges under Article 134 UCMJ. Their comprehensive understanding of military justice ensures a thorough and effective defense strategy, addressing every aspect of the case to achieve the best possible outcome.

Note: The maximum and minimum punishments for Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography or Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) vary depending on the date of the offense.

What are the Article 134 UCMJ Child Pornography Offenses?

What are the Elements of Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography?

  1. That (state the time and place alleged) the accused knowingly and wrongfully distributed child pornography, to wit: __________, to (state the name of the person to whom distributed); and
  2. That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was (to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces) (of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces) (to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces).

What are the Maximum Punishments for Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography?

For Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography offenses committed between 1 January 2019 and 27 December 2023:

  • 20 Years of Confinement
  • Dishonorable Discharge, Bad Conduct Discharge, Dismissal
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1
  • Collateral Consequences of a Federal Felony Conviction
  • Collateral Consequences of Registration as a State & Federal Sex Offender

For Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography offenses committed after 27 December 2023

  • Under the Sentencing Parameters, Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography or Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) is a Category 3 Offense – Confinement from 30-120 months (2 years and 6 months to 10 years)
  • Dishonorable Discharge, Bad Conduct Discharge, Dismissal
  • Total Forfeitures
  • Reduction to E-1
  • Collateral Consequences of a Federal Felony Conviction
  • Collateral Consequences of Registration as a State & Federal Sex Offender
  • Note: The Military Judge MAY impose a period of confinement less than the jurisdictional maximum period of confinement upon finding specific facts that warrant such a sentence. Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2024 ed.), Appendix 12B-C

Combined UCMJ Maximum Punishment Charts

Sample Specification for Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

In that CDT Timothy McCall, US Army, did, at or near the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA), West Point, New York, on or about 27 February 2025, knowingly and wrongfully distribute child pornography, to wit: a picture of a minor, or what appears to be a minor, engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and that said conduct was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces and was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Model Specification for Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

In that __________ (personal jurisdiction data), did, (at/on board—location), on or about __________ knowingly and wrongfully distribute child pornography, to wit: a picture of a minor, or what appears to be a minor, engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and that said conduct was (to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces) (of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces) (to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces and was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces).

What are the Definitions for Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography or Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)?

“Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline” is conduct which causes a reasonably direct and obvious injury to good order and discipline.

“Service discrediting conduct” is conduct which tends to harm the reputation of the service or lower it in public esteem.

Defining “child pornography” in Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography cases.

The definition of “child pornography” used below will depend upon the evidence presented. The first definition below should be given where actual minors are in issue. The second definition below should be given where the depictions do not involve the use of actual minors, or there is some question as to whether actual minors were used in the depictions. If appropriate, give both definitions.

“Child pornography” means material that contains a visual depiction of an actual minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

“Child pornography” (also) means material that contains an obscene visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Such a depiction need not involve an actual minor, but instead only what appears to be a minor.

“Obscene” means that the average person applying contemporary community standards would find that the visual images depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, when taken as a whole, appeal to the prurient interest in sex and portray sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and that a reasonable person would not find serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value in the visual images depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

“Minor” and “child” mean any person under the age of 18 years.

“Sexually explicit conduct” means actual or simulated:

  • sexual intercourse or sodomy, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex;
  • bestiality;
  • masturbation;
  • sadistic or masochistic abuse; or
  • lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person.

Lascivious Exhibition in Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography cases

The following instruction on “lascivious exhibition” should be given when there is an issue as to whether an exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person was lascivious.

Note that an exhibition of the genitals or pubic area may be lascivious even if those areas are clothed. Note also that nudity and sexually provocative depictions of minors that do not involve the exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person or other sexually explicit conduct are not child pornography.

“Lascivious” means exciting sexual desires or marked by lust. Not every exposure of the genitals or pubic area constitutes a lascivious exhibition. The overall content of the visual depiction should be considered to determine if it constitutes a lascivious exhibition.

In making this determination, you should consider such factors as whether the focal point of the depiction is on the genitals or pubic area, whether the setting is sexually suggestive, whether the child is depicted in an unnatural pose or in inappropriate attire considering the child’s age, whether the child is partially clothed or nude, whether the depiction suggests sexual coyness or willingness to engage in sexual activity, and whether the depiction is intended or designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer, as well as any other factors that may be equally if not more important in determining whether a visual depiction contains a lascivious exhibition.

Visual Depictions and Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

A visual depiction, however, need not involve all these factors to be a lascivious exhibition.

“Visual depiction” includes any developed or undeveloped photograph, picture, film or video; any digital or computer image, picture, film or video made by any means, including those transmitted by any means including streaming media, even if not stored in a permanent format; or any digital or electronic data capable of conversion into a visual image.

“Distributing” means delivering to the actual or constructive possession of another.

“Wrongful” means without any legal justification or excuse. Any facts or circumstances that show that a visual depiction of child pornography was unintentionally or inadvertently acquired are relevant to wrongfulness, including, but not limited to, the method by which the visual depiction was acquired, the length of time the visual depiction was maintained, and whether the visual depiction was promptly, and in good faith, destroyed or reported to law enforcement.

Knowingly and Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

An accused may not be convicted of (possessing) (receiving) (viewing) (distributing) (producing) child pornography if he/she did not know that the images were of minors, or what appeared to be minors, engaged in sexually explicit conduct. An act is done “knowingly” if done voluntarily and intentionally. An act done because of a mistake, accident, or other innocent reasons is not done “knowingly.”

Knowledge may be inferred from circumstantial evidence, such as the name of a computer file or folder, the name of the host website from which a visual depiction was viewed or received, search terms used, and the number of images possessed. However, drawing this inference is not required.

Thus, to convict the accused, you must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knew that he/she (possessed) (received) (viewed) (distributed) (produced) the child pornography. However, it is not required that the accused knew the actual ages of the persons in the child pornography, but he/she must have known or believed the persons to be minors.

Redacted Exhibits in Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography cases

On motion of the government in any prosecution under this paragraph, except for good cause shown, the name, address, social security number, or other nonphysical identifying information, other than the age or approximate age of any minor who is depicted in any child pornography or visual depiction or copy thereof shall not be admissible and may be redacted from any otherwise admissible evidence, and the panel shall be instructed, upon request of the Government, that it can draw no inference from the absence of such evidence. Below is a suggested instruction concerning this issue:

Certain information in Prosecution Exhibit(s) ______ has been redacted as not relevant to these proceedings. You are not to speculate as to what has been redacted nor are you to draw any adverse inference to either side from that redaction.

Legal References for Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

  • Definition of “lascivious exhibition”. See US v. Roderick, 62 MJ 425, 429-430 (CAAF 2006), citing US v. Dost, 636 F.Supp 828 (S.D.Cal., 1986).
  • “Lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person” does not require nudity; the minor or other person in the depiction with the minor may be clothed, provided the genitals or pubic area is a focus of the depiction. See US v. Knox, 32 F.3d 733 (3d Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 US 1109 (1995), cited by US v. Anderson, 2010 WL3938363 (ACCA 2010), review denied, 69 MJ 451 (CAAF 2010).

What are the collateral consequences of having to register as a convicted sex offender?

Sex Offenders Often Cannot Live Near or Visit “Places Where Children Congregate.”
What does that mean? It means a registered sex offender may not be allowed to live near or visit schools, parks and playgrounds, beaches, shopping malls, stores, movie theaters, community centers, places of worship, libraries, recreational facilities, skating rinks, bus stops, and many more.

Potential Collateral Consequences of a Conviction of Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

A military member convicted of Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography must register as a sex offender. A registered sex offender may suffer the following collateral consequences:
    • Denied housing or difficulty finding housing
    • Loss of family
    • Isolation
    • No educational opportunities
    • Unemployable or difficulty finding employment
    • Physical assault
    • Increased homelessness
    • Harassment
    • Financial hardship
    • Stigmatization
    • The decline in mental health
    • No internet access
    • Deterioration of social bonds
    • Loss of residency
    • Difficulty with relationships
    • Social disgrace and humiliation
    • Loss of friends
    • Loss of custody of children
    • Lack of privacy

Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography Military Defense Lawyers

If you are suspected or accused of Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography, aka Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), speak with one of our experienced military court martial lawyers to discuss your case.

Overview of Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is a general article that addresses various offenses not specifically listed in other articles. One of the serious offenses covered in this article is the distribution of child pornography. This offense is treated with utmost severity due to the exploitation and harm it causes to minors and the detrimental impact it has on the moral and ethical standards of the military community. This guide provides a comprehensive understanding of Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography, including the elements of the offense, potential punishments, and broader implications of a conviction.

Basic Elements of Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

To secure a conviction for distributing child pornography under Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • Distribution: The accused knowingly distributed or knowingly possessed, with the intent to distribute, child pornography.
  • Nature of Material: The material distributed must meet the definition of child pornography, which includes any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (any person under the age of 18).
  • Knowledge: The accused knew that the material involved a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
  • Service Discrediting or Prejudicial Conduct: The conduct was prejudicial to good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Collateral Consequences of a Conviction of Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

A conviction for distributing child pornography under Article 134 carries numerous collateral consequences that extend beyond the immediate punishments:

  • Sex Offender Registration: The convicted individual will be required to register as a sex offender, which involves being listed on public sex offender registries, regular reporting to law enforcement, and restrictions on residency and employment.
  • Employment Challenges: Finding civilian employment can be extremely difficult for registered sex offenders, especially those with a dishonorable discharge. Many employers are hesitant to hire individuals with such a conviction.
  • Loss of Military Benefits: Convicted individuals typically lose all military benefits, including retirement pay, healthcare benefits, and access to military facilities.
  • Social Stigma: The social stigma attached to being a registered sex offender can lead to isolation, harassment, and difficulties in maintaining personal relationships.
  • Legal Restrictions: Convicted sex offenders may face various legal restrictions, including limits on internet usage, travel, and contact with minors.
  • Civilian Penalties: In addition to military penalties, individuals may face federal or state charges for the same conduct, leading to additional confinement or fines.

Impact on the Victims in Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

The distribution of child pornography has devastating impacts on the victims, who are often subjected to ongoing trauma and exploitation. The creation and distribution of these materials perpetuate the cycle of abuse and cause long-term psychological, emotional, and physical harm to the victims.

  • Emotional and Psychological Trauma: Victims often experience feelings of shame, guilt, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Physical Health Issues: Victims may suffer from injuries and long-term health problems related to the abuse.
  • Social and Behavioral Issues: Victims may exhibit changes in behavior, including withdrawal from social activities, difficulty in school, and increased risk-taking behaviors.
  • Long-Term Impact: The long-lasting effects of abuse can affect victims well into adulthood, impacting their ability to form healthy relationships and maintain stable employment.

Legal Defenses to an Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography

Accused individuals have the right to present a defense against charges of distributing child pornography under Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography. Common defenses include:

  • Lack of Knowledge: The defense may argue that the accused did not know that the material involved minors or that they did not knowingly distribute the material.
  • Mistaken Identity: The defense may argue that the accused was not the individual who distributed the material.
  • False Accusations: The defense may present evidence suggesting that the accusations are false or motivated by ulterior motives.
  • Unlawful Search and Seizure: The defense may argue that the evidence was obtained through unlawful search and seizure, violating the accused’s Fourth Amendment rights.

Importance of Legal Representation in Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography Cases

Given the serious nature of the charges and the severe consequences of a conviction, it is crucial for individuals accused of Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography to seek experienced legal representation. A qualified military defense attorney can provide guidance, build a strong defense, and ensure that the accused’s rights are protected throughout the legal process.

Contact Our AArticle 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography CSAM Defense Lawyers Today

Article 134 UCMJ’s provisions on distributing child pornography reflect the military’s commitment to protecting minors and maintaining high ethical standards within the armed forces. The severe penalties and collateral consequences underscore the gravity of such offenses. Understanding the elements of Article 134 UCMJ Distributing Child Pornography, potential defenses, and the importance of legal representation is essential for anyone facing such charges.

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