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May 19, 2017

You be the federal judge: what sentence for former Rep Anthony Weiner for "transferring obscene material to a minor"?

As detailed in this New York Times article, "Anthony D. Weiner, the former Democratic congressman whose “sexting” scandals ended his political career and embroiled him in a tumultuous F.B.I. investigation of Hillary Clinton before the election, is to appear in a federal courtroom in Manhattan on Friday to enter a guilty plea." Here are more of the basics:

Mr. Weiner will plead guilty to a single charge of transferring obscene material to a minor, pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, one of the people said. Mr. Weiner surrendered to the F.B.I. early Friday morning.  The federal authorities have been investigating reports that, beginning in January 2016, Mr. Weiner, then 51, exchanged sexually explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina.

The plea covers conduct by Mr. Weiner from January through March of last year, the person said.  A likely result of the plea is that Mr. Weiner would end up as a registered sex offender, although a final determination has yet to be made, the person added.

The charge carries a potential sentence of between zero and 10 years in prison, meaning Mr. Weiner could avoid prison.  The ultimate sentence would be determined by a judge.

Reports of the federal investigation surfaced in September after a British newspaper, The Daily Mail, reported that Mr. Weiner had engaged in an online relationship with the girl, which included explicit messages sent over social media and suggestive texts.

It was during the investigation that the F.B.I. seized Mr. Weiner’s electronic devices, including a laptop computer on which agents found a trove of emails to his estranged wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton.  That discovery led to the surprise announcement in late October by James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, that the bureau was conducting a new investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of official email, an inquiry that ended two days before the election, with no charges brought....

The Daily Mail article said that Mr. Weiner began exchanging messages with the girl when she was a high school sophomore and that the messages indicated that Mr. Weiner knew that she was underage.  The newspaper, which did not identify the girl, said she did not want to press charges “because she believes her relationship with Weiner was consensual.” The paper said that she and her father agreed to be interviewed “out of concern that Weiner may be sexting with other underage girls.”

Mr. Weiner was forced to resign from Congress, where he represented parts of Queens and Brooklyn, in June 2011, not long after an explicit picture, sent from his Twitter account, became public.  Mr. Weiner initially claimed that his account had been hacked but eventually admitted that he had lied and that he had sent the image and had inappropriate online exchanges with at least six other women.

As the title of this post is meant to suggest, my mind reels with all the possible "relevant conduct" that could be argued for guidelines calculation purposes as well as with all the ways to characterize Weiner's "history and characteristics" for purposes of the broader 3553(a) sentencing analysis. Until I see some more details about the offense conduct to which Weiner is pleading guilty, I am disinclined to make any prediction or even a guess about what sentence I would expect Weiner will get from a federal district judge. But I can already safely predict this will be a very interesting sentencing to watch and a very challenging one for the judge.

But perhaps readers would not find it very challenging and would like to share their views in the comments. Try to keep it clear and repsectful and perhaps even funny on a Friday.

May 19, 2017 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

Comments

Until the law changes for EVERYONE, he should get 5-10 just like EVERYONE else, and the registry, just like EVERYONE else.

Posted by: kat | May 19, 2017 11:10:40 AM

Specifically, what damage did he cause, in physical, financial, emotional, mental forms?

Posted by: David Behar | May 19, 2017 11:32:52 AM

The karmic consequences alone stagger the mind.

Per the first comment, the article notes "The charge carries a potential sentence of zero to 10 years in prison, meaning that Mr. Weiner could avoid prison." So, I gather "everyone" doesn't get 5-10 here.

Given his past acts, I gather a he warrants something. I'm not a big fan of registered sex offender programs, but it would appear unfair to not apply it to him. As to prison time, again, in a vacuum, I'm not really supportive of much or even any prison time for a single sext. Don't know what specific text they have here -- is it merely words?

The continual reckless behavior here very well might deserve at least a few months in prison. Finally, yet again, his name is rather appropriate.

Posted by: Joe | May 19, 2017 12:02:07 PM

Probation. The collateral consequences of a felony conviction for a sex crime are alone sufficient punishment to satisfy section 3553(a).

Posted by: Anon | May 19, 2017 12:06:51 PM

6-12 months if I were the judge, as his behavior is predatory. His compulsive history with regards to sexting should be taken into account and no jail time seems like little deterrent to someone that crossed the line with a teen and is likely to do so again, despite the legal jeopardy. That said, my prediction is that he will get off lightly with probation and registration as a sex offender.

Posted by: Carlos Safety | May 19, 2017 12:16:28 PM

Outside the fictitious, constructed world of the feminist lawyer, 15 is an adult age, so say the religions of the world with their adulthood induction ceremonies, biology, with the ability to reproduce, and 10,000 years of human civilization, with entering into adult responsibilities and privileges. If the Supreme Court logic of criminal responsibility is to be believed, then the frontal lobes completely myelinizing at 25, and all adult having sex with people under age 25 should be arrested. The adults would be exploiting their biologically based "impetuousness."

On the other hand, the male testicle makes 8 times as much testosterone as the female adrenal gland. Testosterone drives sexual urge in both male and female. One should consider all males to have involuntary intoxication by their testosterone. His lawyers failed to raise his testosterone level as a defense to a sex offense. It will likely fail in preventing a conviction. So it should be used to mitigate the sentencing calculation. Any court refusing this massive difference but accepting the tiny differences in myelinization as mitigation to culpability is hypocritical. The Supreme Court used a tiny frontal lobe effect to end the death penalty for adolescent super-predators. It must mitigate sentencing because of this 800% difference in testosterone between the sexes. Defense lawyers should also be demanding testosterone blood levels on all their female sex offense defendants. I am betting they will be higher than average.

Posted by: David Behar | May 19, 2017 12:27:59 PM

I think he should receive the Sex Education Teacher of the Year Award and I am not being totally facetious.

When it comes to sex and/or nudity, we are the stupidest country in the world while believing we are pious and self-righteous at the same time. What Hypocrisy! Does anyone understand the statement, "The newspaper, which did not identify the girl, said she did not want to press charges “because she believes her relationship with Weiner was consensual.”

Abuse a prepubescent "child", I agree to throw the book at them. Talk about sex with a teenage "minor" - we treat it as the same thing.

Oh, well, as everyone knows, the law is an a$$, just bow your heads to it.

Posted by: albeed | May 19, 2017 12:30:56 PM

I looked at his sentencing guidelines under 2G3.1 and, assuming credit for acceptance of responsibility, came up with a range of 37-46 months.

Posted by: Chris | May 19, 2017 12:49:21 PM

Earlier news accounts reported that he video chatted with the minor, getting her to undress and "touch herself." He also asked her to dress like a school girl and engaged in "rape fantasy play" over video. If that's true, any client of mine charged with such conduct would be facing a minimum ten for enticement and a minimum fifteen for production of child porn. Under those facts, he shouldn't have gotten the deal he got. I am really tired of my clients getting hammered while the rich and famous and politically connected get slaps on the wrist.

Posted by: defendergirl | May 19, 2017 1:28:53 PM

I agree...very very reluctantly...with poster @kat though I oppose the law to begin with. But maybe if he gets a stiff sentence it will shock the elites a little and we might get a puff of wind for reform.

Anyway, I learned something new this past week. New Jersey allows people under 15 to wed if both a parent and a judge approve. Last year (2016) more than 150 teens were wed that way. My state technically allows the same thing but it has been years since any judge approved such an arrangement so I was surprised to see the number in NJ.

With that as context, I just find it impossible to get upset about some man sending nude pictures to a teenager on-line who he has never met in person nor made any attempt to meet. Just block him is a better form of incapacitation than a criminal conviction.

Posted by: Daniel | May 19, 2017 1:35:44 PM

defendergirl's comments suggest more time might be warranted, but first time I heard of it being that graphic. Unsolicited advice: leave that sort of thing to consenting adults.

Posted by: Joe | May 19, 2017 2:16:45 PM

Weiner's past history suggests that an above-guideline sentence would be warranted. Most of his past conduct is "unconvicted" meaning that it won't show up as part of his guidelines score. However, that past conduct would tend to indicate that he does have a problem with sexually acting out. If Chris's guideline calculation is correct, my guess would be a sentence between 60 and 72 months.

Posted by: tmm | May 19, 2017 2:59:24 PM

Elonis threatened his wife with a violent rap song. He scared her enough that she pressed charges, and he was prosecuted. The Supreme Court said, no. No crime from terrorizing people one knows. Knowing his temper, his wife was justified in her fear. And the police agreed with her, but not the Supreme Court.

Weiner probably induced laughter and derision in high school girls. These have been indoctrinated in feminist produced sex ed into the graphic details of anal sex when they were 12 years old, in school, with no opt-out by upset parents. Where is the crime, except for the status of being a knucklehead male involuntarily intoxicated by testosterone, and persecuted by the feminist lawyer and its male running dogs?

Posted by: David Behar | May 19, 2017 2:59:31 PM

Does defendergirl want to take out this system of persecution, or does want to continue to make a living off it? That is not a sarcastic or rhetorical question. Does she want more and better small victories in plea negotiations, or to end the entire fraudulent witch hunt enterprise?

This enterprise is a joke from the victim perspective. The number of child porn sites is up to 4 million. Sex trafficking is rampant. FBI subscriptions subsidize child porn production by criminal gangs. Judge the dismal and shocking failure of this feminist lawyer jihad here:

https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse-statistics/

I am just curious about where her frustration takes her.

Posted by: David Behar | May 19, 2017 3:14:06 PM

The article notes:

Federal prosecutors said in the plea agreement that a sentence in the range of 21 to 27 months would be “fair and appropriate.”

The NYT has the Anthony Weiner’s Plea Agreement that works out how this was obtained.


Posted by: Joe | May 19, 2017 6:10:04 PM

Because Trump is President as a result of his actions, LIFE.

Posted by: whatever | May 19, 2017 6:28:48 PM

I have a question---what does "obscene" mean in this context? Seems like obscene means something different than what it means in the First Amendment context.

Doug?

Posted by: federalist | May 19, 2017 6:31:53 PM

But he's creating a market for underage flirtations and production of underage pr0n! And he's sure to continue and progress into a full-blown child molester! They're incurable, dontcha know! Who will think of the children?

LWOP.

Until and unless he repeats criminal behavior, this should be addressed as a psychological issue, imho.

Posted by: Fat Bastard | May 19, 2017 8:19:21 PM

Weiner's an idiot. I've laughed out loud at his expense more than most people.
What's this case about? Texts, photos sent to a 15 year old girl. Look, every teenager has internet access and has seen a bit of porn. In some cases a lot of porn.
Plenty of 15-year-old girls have some degree of sexual experience. How much damage could he have done to her over the phone?
I'd say a six-month sentence is appropriate, with mandated therapy. For a former congressman that's a severe sentence.
He remains a gross fool in any case.

Since you asked, I'm a layman.

Posted by: JM | May 20, 2017 12:01:04 AM

The prosecutors who wasted $millions on this case should be fired. The judge that allowed the case to proceed should be impeached. The human body, including the male one, is not obscene, except in the filthy mind of the feminist lawyer. They are using tax money to get their names in the paper. All feminists should be purged from all federal departments, and from all institutions receiving any federal subsidy. They are the KKK of 2017. Both are lawyer ideologies, and not even real. Both are false, white supremacist ideologies. The difference is that the feminist lawyer succeeded in the slaughter of millions of black babies, exceeding the genocidal maniac fantasies of the KKK by many orders of magnitude.

Then tell Sessions, drop internet identity thefts or you are fired. Stop kidding around with trivial lawyer games and gotchas.

Then seize Microsoft/Google/Facebook/Twitter in civil forfeiture for the millions of crimes allowed on their platforms. Sell the parts, proceeds to the ripped off tax payer.

This case is just more feminist lawyer bullshit, and a waste. Hey, lawyer morons, sit in the back of a 7th grade sex ed class in your own neighborhood. See if you can stick it out to the end of the session, without vomiting.

Posted by: David Behar | May 20, 2017 5:35:21 AM

JM's comments in a vacuum to me seem right but since we are applying in it in the context of the actual practice, probably not enough. And, it sounds like Weiner himself accepted a range somewhere in the area of two years would be reasonable via the plea agreement. Being a former congressman didn't stop his reckless and now criminal behavior too.

https://www.justice.gov/criminal-ceos/citizens-guide-us-federal-law-obscenity

Reports are he accepted being registered as a sex offender. Daily Mail (UK) referenced the types of material here and not exactly sure how that applies here. If we have a federal obscenity statute, it would be important to know roughly what we are talking about here.

Posted by: Joe | May 20, 2017 9:35:58 AM

Joon Kim, Harvard Law grad, wants 2 years.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/anthony-weiner-plead-guilty-sexting-case-teen-sources-n762036

This ret

Posted by: David Behar | May 20, 2017 5:56:59 PM

Joon Kim, Manhattan US Attorney, Harvard Law grad, wants 2 years.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/anthony-weiner-plead-guilty-sexting-case-teen-sources-n762036

This sentence is retribution against a false crime, not utility.

Posted by: David Behar | May 20, 2017 6:00:48 PM

Where was the defense, Bruce?

Why did it not attack, and try to destroy the life of Joon Kim, as that Harvard Law grad did to the client? Why did it not bring in the false victim, and put the history of the little hussy into the record, her recantation into the record, and her face in the papers? Why did it not demand total e-discovery of the hussy's computers, and all other appliances, including those of her father? Why did it not try to take down the feminist running dog judge? Why did it not demand an enumeration of the actual harms caused by the crime? Why did it not challenge the constitutionality of the criminal statue? Why did it not challenge the victim's being a minor? Why did it fail to bring in Hillary Clinton, since Weiner's sexting computer contained tons of emails from her private server? Never mind about that last question. He knows his client would have been found dead.

Why, Bruce? Because the defense bar stinks. It is working for itself, and not for the client.

Posted by: David Behar | May 20, 2017 6:17:18 PM

Here is the federal statute.

Every element is vague and impossible to understand. A peck on the cheek may be prosecuted.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2251

Posted by: David Behar | May 20, 2017 6:20:18 PM

I think his ex wife would be the best one to administer his sentence. Oh boy.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | May 21, 2017 10:10:24 PM

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