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Internet Crimes Against Children: A Matrix and Summary of Major Federal and Select State Case Law

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2009
207 pages
In an effort to determine how Federal and State statutes that impose civil and criminal penalties for Internet crimes against children have been interpreted by the courts, as well as how effectively they have been enforced, this study analyzed Federal and State case law adjudicated pursuant to these statutes.
This review and analysis of selected State and Federal law and cases regarding Internet crimes against children show that although current State and Federal legislation is being enforced, the States and the Federal Government must enact new legislation that keeps pace with changing technology. Adding "electronic communications devices" to existing statutes may bring a more uniform standard of law for all States and enable law enforcement officers to target electronic communication technology used by predators to solicit minors, engage in child pornography, and harass and bully minors. Often, records of Internet criminal activity are being used as evidence in criminal proceedings for other crimes, but not as the basis for criminal prosecution. Based on this review of Federal and select State statutes, there apparently are adequate laws that address the crimes of solicitation and child pornography, but not a sufficient number of laws that specifically target the growing phenomenon of cyber harassment and bullying. The State laws and court cases pertain to California, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, since they have enacted major legislation in the area of Internet crimes against children. Using a July 2009 study of the relevant Federal and State laws and searching the Lexis database, researchers linked the Federal and State laws with major Federal and State court decisions in compiling this report. The analysis is presented in chart and narrative form.

Date Published: October 1, 2009