United States v. Sheldon

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 09-19-2013
  • Case #: 12-30324
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Clifton for the Court; Circuit Judges Hawkins and McKeown
  • Full Text Opinion

Conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) does not require proof of a defendant’s knowledge that the materials used to produce depictions of sexually explicit conduct have traveled in interstate commerce.

Kevin Sheldon was convicted of sexual exploitation of a child (18 U.S.C. § 2251(a)) and knowingly receiving child pornography (18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(2)) with a sentence of 480 months in prison. On appeal he argues § 2251(a) requires that the defendant have knowledge that the materials used to produce child pornography had traveled in interstate commerce. The Ninth Circuit held that “to satisfy the jurisdictional element of § 2251(a) in this case, then, the Government was only required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the child pornography was produced with materials that had traveled in interstate commerce.” Testimony during trial showed “the recorder used to produce the videos in Montana was manufactured in China,” which “was sufficient to satisfy the jurisdictional element.” Sheldon also argued that the district court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of a prior possession of child pornography conviction and that his § 2251(a) conviction should be set aside because there was insufficient evidence for a rational jury to find him guilty. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion regarding the former argument based on the Fed. R. Evid. 414 and the facts, which showed only a sanitized record was admitted, with proper jury instructions, consideration of factors set forth in U.S. v. Lemay, and balancing of the issue per Fed. R. Evid. 403. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion for the latter argument either after reviewing the evidence and concluding a “rational trier of fact could have found the videos to depict sexually explicit conduct.” AFFIRMED.

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