Original Case Details
A Michigan couple from the Huron County city of Sebewaing has pled guilty to federal charges related to allegations of possessing and distributing child pornography. 28-year-old Tyler Zimmerman appeared in the United States District Court in Bay City and pled guilty to a single count of distribution and receipt of child pornography. In the plea agreement, Zimmerman admits that in a specific period in the fall of 2018, he shared a video, three photographs and a gif containing child pornography with others on Tumblr in order to receive similar types of material. Upon investigation of Zimmerman’s cell phone, investigators found over 150 videos and images of underage children in sexually explicit circumstances. The plea agreement further states that at least 13 of the images that Zimmerman was in possession of were identified as those of missing children. He admitted to looking at child porn because “it made him feel like he was in school again.” Zimmerman’s girlfriend, 24-year-old Dana Taggart, was implicated when Zimmerman’s Facebook account was searched, and it was discovered that Zimmerman had received five child porn videos from Taggart in April of 2019. Taggart has separately pled guilty in the same United States District Court to one count of transportation of obscene matters in her own federal criminal case. Being charged with any criminal offense is a serious matter, and you should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing criminal charges.
Criminal Charges and Potential Penalties
The couple in this case faces different charges that have different potential penalties. The criminal charges and potential penalties for this couple are as follows:
Zimmerman pled guilty to the federal charge of distribution and receipt of child pornography. A conviction for this charge carries up to 20 years in federal prison, followed by five years of federal supervision after release. Zimmerman’s federal sentencing guidelines compute to a range of 235-240 months of prison time. Prior to this plea, Zimmerman had previously served 93 days of county jail time stemming from a conviction of operating while intoxicated.
Taggart pled guilty to the federal charge of transportation of obscene matters. A conviction for this charge carries up to five years in federal prison. Taggart’s federal sentencing guidelines call for a 1-3-year sentence. She did not have a previous criminal record but was charged with operating while intoxicated during this case and had her $10,000 bond revoked by federal District Court Judge Patricia T. Morris.
Both Zimmerman and Taggart are scheduled to be sentenced in front of Judge Morris. Zimmerman is scheduled to be sentenced on December 20, 2020 while Taggart is scheduled to be sentenced on November 19, 2020. It does not appear that there are any prior agreements on what sentence should be, so the judge will sentence the pair as she sees fit.
What Can Happen at Sentencing?
Since it does not appear that there are any prior agreements between federal prosecutors and these defendants, they are subject to be sentenced up to the maximum for the crimes they have pled guilty to. In the case of Zimmerman, it would appear that his sentence will likely be at the top of the guidelines given the facts alleged against him in the case. His sentencing guidelines already almost max him out on the charge if they are followed. If Zimmerman is to obtain a more favorable sentence, it will require his attorney to convince the judge that she should depart below the recommended sentencing range, which is no small task. Taggart faces a more uncertain sentencing hearing for her conviction. Her sentencing range being 1-3 years leaves quite a bit of room for the judge to put her imprint on this case. Both Zimmerman and Taggart will meet with federal probation officers for an interview and pre-sentencing report. The information gained from these interviews will be put into a pre-sentencing report which is meant to aid the judge in determining sentence. Both prosecutor and defense attorneys will have the opportunity to see and question the report if there any mistakes. Arguments are also often made about whether or not to score specific variables in determining the appropriate federal sentencing guideline range. If you have any questions about your own case, then call us at Grabel & Associates today so we can help.
Any Further Questions?
If you are facing an investigation or allegations related to the possession, production, or distribution or child pornography, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or for postconviction help. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.