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Court Rules “One on One Exchanges” Enough to Charge Someone with the Advertisement of Child Pornography

Posted by Seth Chazin | Jul 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

” They discussed plans to murder a woman and sexually abuse her children.  About four months later, the pair contacted one another again and discussed child porn. Cox then used the platform to send Hennis two Dropbox links, one of which contained child porn. In the text describing the links, Cox called them “goodies for daddy.” Hennis was then arrested and searches led to Cox. Cox was charged with “making a notice offering child pornography,” in violation of 18 USC 2251 (d)(1)(A), 2256 . Cox's defense was that she was not, “JadeJeckel.” The court allowed into evidence texts from the conversation about the murder and sexual assault of children.  Cox was then convicted after jury trial and sentenced to over 21 years of prison.

The legal issue that the court addressed on appeal was whether a one-on-one communication can legally be considered a ‘notice or advertisement' for child pornography under 18 USC 2251(d)(1). Cox argued that the statue required something more than a one-on-one exchange with Hennis..

Based on the specific language in the statute, the court upheld the one-on-one communication as satisfying the legal definition of ‘notice' under 18 USC 2251(d)(1) . Applying this construction to the case, the court concluded that a rational trier of fact could find that Cox made a notice offering child pornography when she sent a one-on-one communication linking to a Dropbox account that contained child pornography.

The court's second holding tolerates the admission of texts sent four months before the charged conduct. The messages from August 2015 included particularly inflammatory and thus prejudicial evidence, but the court overlooked the prejudicial impact that these texts undoubtedly had on the jury. 

The main issue in this case is that, typically, a one-on-one text would not be considered a “notice,” which typically includes a larger audience. The court at least noted that this does not mean that all “one-on-one” communications will be violations of this statute. The holding is specific and limited to the facts in Cox's case.  What remains of any distinction of ‘notice' from individual communications will be revealed by future court opinions.   

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 25 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.

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