As a Federal and Criminal defense attorney in Milwaukee for the past thirty-three years, Marty Kohler, has represented more than his share of the troubles caused by the digital age. Mandatory minimum sentencing, child pornography, teens and sexting, Sextortion, cyber bullying, predators, and the traps of the Digital Age were addressed today on CHWR (CyberHood Watch Radio).
Marty sees teens and adults sitting behind the computer getting in trouble. In particular young kids, and more specifically, high school kids who have lost personal contact with one another. Marty’s example was the commercial about a young girl who breaks up with her boyfriend by texting him, while sitting across the table. “That is how young kids talk today”, said Marty.
Marty indicated how kids are sending inappropriate pictures of themselves, and that is when the trouble begins. The laws were not ready for young underage kids and their behaviors as it relates to “sexting“, and child pornography laws. I asked Marty, what his feelings were regarding the laws and how he felt about them.
“The laws that were written, were not written with the Internet in mind”, sad Marty. For example, a sixteen and a fifteen-year-old boy and girl who share inappropriate photos, are breaking child pornography laws. The statutes of the law address exposing harmful materials, harmful descriptions, and possession of child pornography as committing a crime.
Marty explains that is clearly not the thought “nor” the intentions of the two kids mentioned in the latter paragraph, unfortunately, that is the category the kids fall under.
A recent case involving a boy of eighteen who was convicted of distributing obscene materials to a minor, for sending his friend a picture of his privates, and now he is a registered sex offender in Iowa. Therefore, a joke becomes a crime that affects you for the rest of your life.
When dealing with kids and educating them on the consequences of his or her child’s actions, Marty says to break it down onto two areas of importance, the cell phone use versus the home computer. The home computer offers more protection versus cell phone and texting, which parents really cannot control. With the home computer, Marty strongly recommends monitoring software to inform parents of his or her child’s digital behavior. Kids will try to experiment, and sometimes go too far, and good monitoring software will keep parents informed.
A comment other guests have said before is that when something goes wrong and your child is missing is one of the first things law enforcement will do is check your child’s computer to see who has been communicating with your child. It is one of law enforcements best ways to find leads and their trail to recovery. A good monitoring service provides all the details about your child’s online activities, including who has been talking to your child.
Adults will experiment online as well, they will not try to reach out to anyone, nor have any intent to make contact, but the next thing they know the Feds are at the door seizing his or her computer, and now may have committed a child porn offense. What happens is an adult will download pornography, which is legal, but within the download of thousands of pictures may contain child porn as well. Which, is illegal to possess and you may not know they are even there.
“What are your feelings about mandatory minimum sentencing, do you agree with that?” was another question we asked Marty. “I really don’t. I find that so many of our laws today are knee jerk reactions.” “The Feds have actually, said it is okay to sentence above or below the sentencing guidelines ridge.” Up until recently, judges always felt they were locked in to the mandatory range.
Be aware, helping to disseminate child porn is anyway will earn you a day in court and could be a mandatory five years. A federal conviction is also a mandatory 85% of the sentencing time.
We discussed “Sextortion”, which is blackmailing another for money, sexual favors, or coercion to do something against your will. Marty, highlighted a case of a seventeen year old who anonymously posed as another, persuaded classmates to send inappropriate pictures of them, and then extorted sexual favors from them. The teen was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years incarceration.
Too often parents have a virtuous outlook of his or her child, when in fact they are not. Again, another reason why Marty urges parents to monitor his or her child’s online activities. Kids push the envelope, and when it involves the social networks are you aware of what your kids are posting or saying to others online? If they are on Facebook or other social network sites, make sure you are one of your child’s friends.
The computer has caused the incarceration of many, who never would have, if not for the computer. Addictions to pornography are real and the computer combined with the Internet has ruined many lives that otherwise would not have been affected.
In our interview with Daryl Hulce, founder of the FBI-SOS program, Daryl brought up an interesting point regarding the need to educate predators and pedophiles on the consequences of his or her actions, and how they impact the lives of their victims. We went on to talk about how those who are afflicted with these behaviors, and if any program exists, that would help them to not act upon these criminal impulses.
How does someone self-report without the provider reporting to the authorities? There is a mandatory obligation on behalf of the psychologist treating to report when a crime has been committed. However, no one who says they are experiencing urges has to be reported. As long as no crime is confessed, there is no obligation to report. “The word should get out that if you do feel that you are a predator or sex offender, and you haven’t reported a crime. Let’s say you report urges or desires, that is treatable without providers having to report that”. It is a rare case to have a predator or pedophile self-report, and looking for help.
Marty says, “Technology is going too fast for us”. Parents need to be more attuned to what his or her child is doing. Marty Kohler covered a great deal more from his many years as a defense attorney, and what parents should be more mindful about. You can listen to the rest of the interview here:
Your CyberHood Watch Partner,
david c ballard
Radio Security Journalist
- Sentencing for former N.J. Assemblyman Neil Cohen is postponed (nj.com)
- Former Perth teacher guilty of child porn (news.theage.com.au)
- Mysa.com: S.A. man gets 20 years for child porn (mysanantonio.com)
- Kyle Glasser, University Of Georgia Student, Arrested On Child Pornography Charges (huffingtonpost.com)
- Beaumont Enterprise: Former Boys and Girls Club director sentenced for child porn (beaumontenterprise.com)