United States v. Williams

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 10-27-2011
  • Case #: 10-10550
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Thomas for the Court, and Circuit Judge Smith and Chief District Judge Oliver, Jr.
  • Full Text Opinion

The plain language of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2251(d)(1)(A) does not contain any personal production element, nor does any tense of the wording show any congressional intent to include such an element to convict a defendant under this statute. .

John Williams used a peer-to-peer file software to share and post pictures of more than 5,000 prepubescent children taking part in sexually explicit conduct. The FBI eventually identified Williams as the owner, and got a search warrant for Williams's mobile home. Inside Williams's home the FBI found many incriminating items that included x-rays showing young boys genitalia, in addition to young boys bathing suits, underwear, pajamas, and other items. Williams was indicted by a grand jury for possession of child pornography under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2252(a)(5)(B), distribution of child porn under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2252(a)(2)(B), and advertising the distribution of child porn in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2251(d)(1)(A). A motion to dismiss was filed by Williams. Williams argued the statute only applies to those who advertise to produce child porn or to those who actually produce child porn. The motion was denied. Williams entered a guilty plea, which was conditional. The condition preserved Williams right to appeal the motion to dismiss. The government dismissed the remaining charges against Williams. Williams argues that Section 2251(d)(1)(A) requires an individual to personally produce the sexually explicit material which depicts minors that the individual advertises for distribution. The Court first looked to the plain language and then legislative history. The Court found no requirement that the individual personally produce child porn in order to be criminally liable. Section 2251(d)(1)(A) applies if the defendant knowingly advertises "any visual depiction" of child porn. The Second, Third, and Eighth Circuits agree. Personal production is not an element of the crime. The plain language of Sec. 2251(d)(1)(A) does not contain a personal production requirement.The legislative history shows that Section 2251 did not include the advertising provision that is in question in its original enactment, and was later added to "ban the production and use of advertisements for child pornography." AFFIRMED.

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