On December 7, 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Child Protection Act, which doubles the potential sentences for those convicted of certain sex and child pornography crimes. The Child Protection Act (CPA) also provides more resources for investigating online crime and a more efficient way to issue subpoenas. As an additional weapon in the fight against online child crime, the CPA creates a civil action and new offenses for harassing or intimidating a child victim or witness.
This new law amends the federal criminal code to impose a fine and/or prison term from 10 years up to 20 years for transporting, receiving, distributing, selling, or possessing pornographic images of a child under the age of 12, provided in 18 U.S.C. § 2252(b)(2). In 18 U.S.C. 1514(b)(2), the new law allows a U.S. district court to issue a protective order prohibiting harassment or intimidation of a minor victim or witness as long as the court finds evidence that the conduct could adversely affect the willingness of the minor to participate in a federal criminal case. If an offender is to violate this protective order, then he or she can be imprisoned for up to 5 years and/or be fined. The U.S. Marshals Service can now issue an administrative subpoena for the investigation of unregistered sex offenders by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Finally, the Child Protection Act of 2012 further amends the PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008 in the following ways:
(1) Doubles the amount from $2,000,000 to $4,000,000 annually that the Attorney General can award a non-law enforcement agency to establish and conduct training courses for the National Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program.
(2) Requires that the Attorney general designate a senior official at the Department of Justice with experience in child exploitation cases as the National Coordinator for Child exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, and he or she will be responsible for coordinating the development of the new system.
(3) Requires the Attorney General to report within 90 days after the enactment of this Act on the status of the establishment of the system.