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Oklahoma Lawmakers Debate Child Pornography Sentencing Guidelines

Oklahoma resident Monte Betche is headed to prison for more than four years for knowingly possessing child pornography on his computer, and the sex crime case has stirred up a heated debate about child pornography sentencing rules across Oklahoma. While some OK officials believe there is a connection between child pornography and sex abuse crimes, …

Oklahoma resident Monte Betche is headed to prison for more than four years for knowingly possessing child pornography on his computer, and the sex crime case has stirred up a heated debate about child pornography sentencing rules across Oklahoma. While some OK officials believe there is a connection between child pornography and sex abuse crimes, others argue that the child pornography sentencing guidelines in place in Oklahoma fail to adequately differentiate among offenders based on their “degrees of culpability and dangerousness.” If you have been charged with child pornography or another sex crime in Oklahoma, your first course of action should be to contact our criminal defense attorneys at Oklahoma Legal Center.

Penalties for Child Pornography Crimes in Oklahoma

Although Betche was sentenced to more than four years in prison, his punishment could have been far worse if the judge had given the 49-year-old the statutory maximum of 10 years in prison under the 97-to-120 month punishment range that initially applied to the Oklahoma child pornography case under federal sentencing guidelines. Instead, Northern District of Oklahoma U.S. Chief District Judge Gregory Frizzell sentenced Betche to the lower end of the 51-to-63 month range he decided to apply to the sex crime case. During the hearing earlier this month, Frizzell commented that “Congress needs to address the severity of these punishments,” citing a recent U.S. Sentencing Commission report on the topic.

Degrees of Culpability and Dangerousness

The report indicates that child pornography offenses cause harm to the children who are victimized by both production and non-production offenses, but also concludes that “there is a growing belief among many interested parties that the existing sentencing scheme in non-production cases fails to distinguish adequately among offenders based on their degrees of culpability and dangerousness.” According to Oklahoma federal public defender Julia O’Connell, child molesters and individuals in possession of child pornography have “completely different make-ups.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Cyran, however, claims that at least some studies have shown that there is a correlation between child pornography and sex abuse crimes.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

As O’Connell says, those charged with and convicted of child pornography possession typically pay a steep price before they even set foot in prison. When news of a child pornography case reaches the public, the defendant’s family, friends, colleagues and the community find out about it, at which point their reputation is essentially destroyed. If you have been accused of a sex crime like child pornography in Oklahoma, consult our criminal defense lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center as soon as possible. Our law firm is located in Oklahoma City, and our legal team has years of experience protecting the legal rights of individuals charged with sex crimes throughout Oklahoma. Don’t leave your future to chance; contact our attorneys at Oklahoma Legal Center today.

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