Former congressman Anthony Weiner is under federal investigation by the US Attorney’s Office regarding child pornography. While no charges have yet been filed, Mr. Weiner’s attorneys are working hard to protect their client’s interests. This case is an excellent example of why it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you become aware you are under investigation rather than waiting for charges to be filed.

Immediate Legal Representation

Mr. Weiner allegedly engaged in an online relationship with a 15 year-old girl, sharing inappropriate images and text. As soon has he learned about the investigation, he contacted his lawyers who are now working with the New York US Attorney’s Office, hoping to accomplish either:

1. A decision not to charge Mr. Weiner; or

2. An indictment of Mr. Weiner on charges with the lowest potential prison sentence.

By obtaining immediate legal representation, Mr. Weiner has a chance to substantially reduce his criminal liability.

Potential Impact

The prosecutors could potentially charge Mr. Weiner under three federal statutes: 1. Production of Child Pornography. This charge carries a 15 year mandatory minimum sentence if the defendant is convicted. 2. Receipt of Child Pornography. This charge carries a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence if the defendant is convicted. 3. Possession of Child Pornography. This charge has no mandatory minimum sentence, and while a person convicted of this crime is likely to serve time in prison, it will be less than if convicted under either of the other charges.

The prosecutors have discretion in deciding what how to charge someone and Mr. Weiner’s attorneys are hoping to persuade them that no charges should be filed. If that effort is unsuccessful, they will then present evidence in hopes that the prosecutors will chose the charge that will least impact their client.

Bottom Line

While this is a federal case, the lesson of hiring an experienced attorney as soon as you know you are under investigation holds true in every situation and jurisdiction. Regardless of the agency, state or county that initiates an investigation, hire an attorney immediately. He or she may not be able to prevent charges from being filed, but they may be able to reduce your liability.

Attorney Ben Stechschulte is a board certified criminal defense attorney who has represented hundreds of clients facing charges in a variety of federal, state, and local jurisdictions. He is a skilled negotiator who works with prosecutors to achieve the best outcomes for his clients.