Project Safe Childhood, a federal initiative that started in 2006, continues to prosecute federal child exploitation charges across the United States. Federal, state and local officials, including those in Michigan, often work together to find and charge individuals and groups who they believe are involved in child abduction, online child pornography and other federal crimes related to the harm of children. Due to the fact that many child exploitation cases cross state lines, the federal government is regularly involved in these cases.

On Dec. 27, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced an indictment of a 61-year-old man who is facing charges of receiving child pornography and having child pornography in his possession. This is a federal crime and carries with it the potential for five to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 for each charge.

The man, who was arrested on Dec. 20, is currently in federal custody. Arraignment was scheduled for Dec. 27. Although this particular indictment did not happen in Michigan, it is part of a nationwide hunt for anyone who participates in exploiting children -- and should be taken very seriously.

Penalties for a federal crime like possession of child pornography can be severe and have a large impact on an individual's personal and professional life. Those who find themselves facing federal crime charges need to be fully aware of their legal rights and options. Rules of procedure and timelines for federal crimes can differ from other legal charges, and a thorough understanding of one's rights is essential to a sturdy defense.

Source: FBI.gov, "Jacksonville Man Indicted on Federal Child Pornography Charges," U.S. Attorney's Office, Dec. 27, 2012