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JPEsq., Criminal Defense Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Experience as Criminal Defense Attorney and criminal law professor
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Thank you! I have a few follow-up questions: You said "this

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Thank you! I have a few follow-up questions:

You said "this is federal law." Were you referring to the trafficking of the comics or the existence of the comics? If the original charge was possession, it would still be on state level?

So after the state investigators uncover the pornographic comic books and see that the father has made money selling them, it would become a federal case? Right now, Tera's dad is being held at county prison and the defense and prosecuting attorneys are local. (Great for my story because Tera can interact with them.) But if the case suddenly goes federal, how would that transition work? Would a new federal attorney swoop in to take over? Would he/she set up an office locally or would all of this be handled from somewhere else? How would Tera and her dad be notified? Through their attorneys? Would Tera’s dad be able to retain the attorney Tera hired for him (the one who specializes in sex crimes)? Would the FBI agents who are investigating be local agents? (The story is set in a big city—Seattle.)

I just want to be clear on this: It would be FBI agents, in combination with a federal prosecuting attorney (a team of attorneys?), who present the comic book evidence to Tera? And could they do it locally? Might they come to home, or would she go to them?

Sorry about all the follow-up questions. I want to get this right!

Possession of child pornography can be charged at the State level, and often is. It can also be charged as a Federal crime. So when I said this was Federal, I was specifically referring to the simulated child pornography in the comics. There may be a State law counterpart, but probably not. I mentioned that it only became illegal in 2003, because if Tera is now 18, in 2003 she would have been 11 or 12... if the images were drawn before then, it probably would not have been illegal. Even if they were drawn post 2003, it may not be charged. If you wanted to avoid going down this path, you could easily have the prosecutor bring Tera in to discuss the possible molestation, and not have him charged Federally- just because of the gray area of the law and also the elapsed time many prosecutors wouldn't want to mess with it.


If the feds need to step in, usually what happens that they are notified by the local authorities and both cases are charged simultaneously (charged in Federal court while also charged in local county court). The prosecutor would be a U.S. Attorney, but the defense attorney could be the same person, and usually is. There is a U.S. District Court in Seattle, and that is where the FBI and U.S. Attorney would be located. The defense attorney would remain the same. The process is somewhat different in that it is very difficult to beat Federal charges, they take a longer time to build a case and they pretty much always have the defendant dead-to-rights before the case is filed. Tera and her dad would be notified through their attorney.

As far as notification... the U.S. Attorney would probably contact the defense attorney, or just send mail an indictment to the father in prison and the attorney. Most of the time, the local prosecutor will tell the defense attorney, that the charge is being sent up to the feds, and he will know what is coming. Then the defense attorney would enter his appearance in the Federal case too.

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Sorry, I just realized I did not answer your first question... both the possession and trafficking would be Federal. Possession of those specific comics would be Federal only because of the nature of simulated porn as opposed to something with an actual victim (there may be an Oregon counterpart, that I do not know- but can find out).

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