Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
In the United States, child pornography is prohibited under 18 U.S.C. Chapter 110, Sexual Exploitation and Other Abuse of Children. Obviously, this can be prosecuted by many federal agencies - including the FBI.
The penalties for this can be significant, so your family member should consider hiring an attorney to represent him/her in this matter.
Overall, if this person actually did what has been alleged, the best option is to try to work out some type of plea agreement to resolve these charges. An experienced lawyer certainly can help with reducing the penalty.
A court appointed attorney/public defender can do a fine job representing him. Public defenders get a bad reputation because they don't have the right to pick their clients - they have to take who is assigned to them by the court. Thus, they can't just pick the good cases to keep their winning percentage up.
That said, if he can hire a private attorney, he would get more attention to his case, and probably have a deal worked out quicker than if he uses a public defender.
If a private attorney is something he wants to consider, he can visit www.martindale.com and search for a criminal law attorney in his area.