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United States v. Heckman

January 11, 2010


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Criminal Action No. 2-07-cr-00133-001) District Judge: Honorable James Knoll Gardner.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambro, Circuit Judge


Argued September 30, 2009

Before: RENDELL, AMBRO and WEIS Circuit Judges.


Arthur William Heckman was indicted and pled guilty to one count of transporting child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(1).*fn1 He was sentenced to 180 months' imprisonment, followed by a lifetime term of supervised release. On appeal, Heckman challenges three "Special Conditions of Supervision" imposed by the District Court for the remainder of Heckman's life: 1) an unconditional ban on Internet access; 2) a requirement that he participate in a mental health program; and 3) a restriction on any interaction with minors.

While we affirm the mental health condition, we vacate the other challenged conditions and remand for resentencing consistent with this opinion.

I. Facts

Heckman emailed 18 pictures of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct to a stranger in an Internet chat room. Though Heckman believed the recipient to be a person who shared his interest in child pornography, he was actually transmitting the images to an undercover special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI").

In October 2003, the special agent entered an Internet chat room, which contained several Internet users interested in child pornography and sexual encounters with minors. In doing so, the agent posed as another user, posting the following message: "[R]oom topics vids to trade." Under the screen name "n3zzu2," Heckman responded, "[W]ish I did." Heckman and the special agent then discussed the possibility of trading images of children engaged in sexual activity. Shortly after this exchange, the special agent received an email from Heckman, with seven images of children attached, each sexually explicit. The special agent responded to Heckman with a corrupted file, entitled "boyluv.wmv." Heckman replied with 11 additional images. Shortly thereafter, Heckman sent an email to the special agent complaining that the agent's file was corrupted.

In response to a request by the FBI, America Online disclosed that the screen name "n3zzu2" belonged to "Arthur Heckman," whereupon he was arrested. Heckman waived his Miranda rights and admitted to receiving and then transmitting 18 images of child pornography.*fn2

II. Procedural History

A grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging Heckman with transporting child pornography. He pled guilty in April 2008. At sentencing, both parties agreed that Heckman's Sentencing Guidelines range was between 70 and 87 months. Because he had prior convictions involving the sexual abuse of minors, however, a statutory minimum of 180 months applied. See 18 U.S.C. § 2252(b)(1). The Government agreed to the mandatory minimum sentence, but only if it ran consecutively to another 180-month sentence that Heckman was already serving in Florida. The Government argued that, regardless of the sentence imposed, lifetime supervised release was necessary to protect the public from Heckman. Given his age (48 at the time of his guilty plea), Heckman requested that his sentence be concurrent with the Florida sentence.

The District Court agreed with the Government. It sentenced Heckman to the mandatory minimum sentence of 180 months' imprisonment, to run consecutively to the 180-month term imposed on him in September 2006 by the Florida state court. The Court also sentenced Heckman to lifetime supervised release and a nominal fine of $100. The following special conditions of lifetime supervised release are at issue in Heckman's appeal:

The defendant is prohibited from access to any Internet service provider, bulletin board system, or any other public or private computer network.

The defendant shall participate in a mental health program for evaluation and/or treatment as directed by the United States Probation Office. The defendant shall remain in treatment until satisfactorily discharged and with the approval of the United States Probation Office, including sex offender treatment.

The defendant shall follow the directions of the United States Probation Office regarding any contact with children of either sex, under the age of 18. The defendant shall not obtain employment or perform volunteer work which includes, as part of its job/work description, contact with minor children.

App. 6.

In explaining its reasons for Heckman's sentence, the Court reviewed each of the relevant sentencing factors under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).*fn3 The Court began by noting that a 180-month, consecutive sentence was necessary, given Heckman's extensive criminal history, a history "almost unbroken from the time he was nineteen years old until today at age forty-eight." App. 49-50. It noted that this was Heckman's "eighth contact with the criminal justice system, " with "a strong ...

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