Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Ruggierio: No age of victim knowledge required for unlawful production of child pornography

In U.S. v. Ruggiero, No. 13-14773 (June 30, 2015), the Court rejected the argument that 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) was unconstitutional because it does not require the government to prove, for the offense of producing child pornography, that a defendant knew the victim was a minor. The Court noted that while scienter is generally an element of a crime, there is an exception for sex offenses, where crimes like rape do not require knowledge of the age of the victim. The Court also noted that producing child pornography is not the type of “wholly passive” crime for which mens rea can be required. The Court stated: “We have no doubt that a person of ordinary intelligence would know, upon reading § 2251(a), that it prohibits persuading a 15-year old to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of photographing her with a cell phone camera that has traveled in foreign commerce.”