Criminal Law

Obscenity - Offenses Involving Commercial Sex Acts, Sexual Exploitation of Minors, and Obscenity

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§2G3.1GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005

Commentary to §2A3.1 (Criminal Sexual Abuse; Attempt to Commit Criminal Sexual Abuse).

"Sexually explicit conduct" has the meaning given that term in 18 U.S.C. § 2256(2).

2. Inapplicability of Subsection (b)(3).—If the defendant is convicted of 18 U.S.C. § 2252B, subsection (b)(3) shall not apply.

3. Application of Subsection (b)(4).—Subsection (b)(4) applies if the offense involved material that portrays sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence, regardless of whether the defendant specifically intended to possess, receive, or distribute such materials.

Background: Most federal prosecutions for offenses covered in this guideline are directed to offenses involving distribution for pecuniary gain. Consequently, the offense level under this section generally will be at least 15.

Historical Note:: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective November 1, 1989 (see Appendix C, amendment 163); November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 326); November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 372); November 27, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 437); November 1, 2000 (see Appendix C, amendment 592); November 1, 2001 (see Appendix C, amendment 617); November 1, 2004 (see Appendix C, amendment 664).

§2G3.2. Obscene Telephone Communications for a Commercial Purpose; Broadcasting

Obscene Material

(a) Base Offense Level: 12

(b) Specific Offense Characteristics

(1) If a person who received the telephonic communication was less than eighteen years of age, or if a broadcast was made between six o’clock in the morning and eleven o’clock at night, increase by 4 levels.

(2) If 6 plus the offense level from the table in §2B1.1 (Theft, Property Destruction, and Fraud) corresponding to the volume of commerce attributable to the defendant is greater than the offense level determined above, increase to that offense level.


Statutory Provisions: 18 U.S.C. §§ 1464, 1468; 47 U.S.C. § 223(b)(1)(A).

Background: Subsection (b)(1) provides an enhancement where an obscene telephonic communication was received by a minor less than 18 years of age or where a broadcast was made during a time when such minors were likely to receive it. Subsection (b)(2) provides an enhancement for large-scale "dial-a-porn" or obscene broadcasting operations that results in an offense level comparable to the offense level for such operations under §2G3.1 (Importing, Mailing, or Transporting Obscene Matter; Transferring Obscene Matter to a Minor). The extent to which the obscene material was distributed is approximated by the volume of commerce attributable to the defendant.

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