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XXXLAW J. D. Obenberger and Associates, Attorneys and Counselors at Law


A Sampler of Federal Criminal Statutes Regarding Pornography and Sexual Activity*

(and a peek into the US Attorneys' manual on prosecution policies)


Child Porn
Mann Act
Postal Laws
Search and Seizure
Civil Rights


Federal Obscenity Criminal and Forfeiture Statutes

18 USC 1461 Mailing obscene matter
18 USC 1462 Importation or transportation of obscene matter
18 USC 1463 Mailing indecent matter on wrappers or envelopes
18 USC 1464 Broadcasting obscene language
18 USC 1465 Transportation of obscene matters for distribution
18 USC 1466 Engaging in the business of selling or transferring obscene matter
18 USC 1467 Criminal Forfeiture
18 USC 1468 Distribution of obscene matters by wire
18 USC 1469 Presumptions
18 USC 1470 Transfer of obscene matters to minors

Child Pornography Abatement - Record Keeping

18 USC 2246 Definitions
18 USC 2251 Sexual exploitation of children
18 USC 2252 Activities relating to child pornography
18 USC 2252A Child pornography
18 USC 2253 Criminal forfeiture
18 USC 2254 Civil forfeiture
18 USC 2255 Civil Remedy, presumed damages no less than $50,000.00
18 USC 2256 Definitions
18 USC 2257 Record keeping and notice
18 USC 2258 Failure to report child abuse
18 USC 2259 Mandatory Restitution of victim's damages
18 USC 2260 Production of child pornography for importation into the United States

The Mann Act - Transporting Persons for Sexual Purposes

18 USC 2421 Transportation of persons for prostitution or criminal sexual activity
18 USC 2422 Coercion or enticement of transportation for these purposes
18 USC 2423 Transportation of minors for criminal sexual activity
18 USC 2425 Transmission of information about minors for criminal sexual activity
18 USC 2427 Child pornography included within ambit of these criminal statutes


18 USC 1961 Definitions
18 USC 1962 Prohibited Activities
18 USC 1963 Criminal Penalties
18 USC 1964 Civil Remedies and forfeitures
18 USC 1965 Venue and Process
18 USC 1966 Actions to be expedited
18 USC 1967 Closed Proceedings - Evidence
18 USC 1968 Civil Investigation by Attorney General

US Postal Service

39 USC 3008 Erotically arousing mail
39 USC 3010 Mailing of Sexually oriented advertising
39 USC 3011 Judicial enforcement

Public Health and Welfare - Search for and Seizure of Materials to be disseminated in interstate commerce

42 USC 2000aa Searches and Seizures of documentary materials by government officers in criminal investigations


47 USC 153 Definitions
47 USC 223 Obscene or harassing phone calls
47 USC 228 FTC Regulation of Pay per Call
47 USC 230 Blocking and Screening of Offensive material
47 USC 231 Restriction on access of minors to harmful material on the world wide web
47 USC 561 Scrambling of explicit materials on cable TV

Civil Rights Act

42 USC 1983 Civil Action for deprivation of rights under color of state law
42 USC 1985 Civil Action based on conspiracy to violate civil rights
42 USC 1986 Civil Action for failure to prevent violation of civil rights

*Caveat: The foregoing tables are only a sampler of significant federal statutes which may have applicability to pornography. This listing is by no means comprehensive and is not intended to substitute for a careful and professional analysis of federal law. In the American legal tradition, the interpretation of statutes by courts controls their meaning and application to an extent unknown outside the Anglo-american legal tradition, and authoritative interpretation of these statutes by courts must be consulted to understand their real meaning. In addition to federal law, state and local law also need to be examined and understood to assess any enterprise for legality.

Matters concerning underage minors are included in this table so that no reader will have any doubt as to how seriously the United States government takes such matters, how seriously they are punished, and how far the United States extends its jurisdiction toward the abatement of all production and use of such images. United States law in this connection includes statutes which reach outside its territorial limits, as far as spacecraft in flight. See, in particular, 18 USC 2260 and 18 USC 7.

Title 9 (last updated November, 2000) of the US Attorney's Manual provides the most recent, publicly disseminated, guidance for prosecution policy in this area, and this is found on DOJ's site at Section 9-75.020:

Prosecution of large scale distributors of obscene material who realize substantial income from their multi-state
operations also is encouraged. Prosecution priority should be given to cases in which there is evidence of involvement by
known organized crime figures. However, prosecution of cases involving relatively small distributors can have a deterrent effect
and would dispel any notion that obscenity distributors are insulated from prosecution if their operations fail to exceed a
predetermined size or if they fragment their business into small-scale operations. Therefore, prosecution of such distributors also
may be appropriate on a case-by-case basis. In evaluating obscenity cases, substantial deference should be given to the United
States Attorney's determination of the viability of the case based upon the factors set forth in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15
(1973). Under the legal test of obscenity set forth in that case, material is obscene if, taken as a whole, the average person in
the community would find that the material appeals to the prurient interest of its intended audience, depicts sexual conduct in a
patently offensive way, and a reasonable person would find the material, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic,
political or scientific value.