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Defending Restitution Claims in Child Pornography Cases in a Post-Paroline World
By David Bungard
One of the last items of business typically handled by defense counsel in child pornography prosecutions is the resolution of any restitution claims submitted on behalf of minors or former minors whose depictions law enforcement discovered within a client’s collection. This claim, which typically seeks a recovery in excess of $1 million, is pursued by the government pursuant to the statutory authority set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 2259. Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Paroline,1 these claims typically did not result in any significant monetary awards being rendered. The majority of federal circuits had determined that under 18 U.S.C. § 2259 a victim was required to show that the alleged damages had been proximately caused by the defendant’s conduct.2 The element of proximate causation proved to be a difficult hurdle for any submitted restitution claim to clear. In most instances, the defendant was merely an end user who had downloaded images or vi
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