FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On May 11, Joshua Duggar’s defense team submitted a sentencing memorandum in the Western District of Arkansas Federal Court in Fayetteville.
The 30-page filing requests a sentence of five years for Duggar’s conviction on a pair of child pornography charges in December 2021. The prosecution submitted a memo seeking the maximum sentence of 20 years.
The defense filing begins by stating that Duggar is seeking a sentence that is “sufficient, but not greater than necessary.” The defense then notes the unique circumstances of the case and states that Duggar, the 34-year-old father of seven, has “lived an admirable life while navigating unique challenges associated with being in the public spotlight since childhood.”
“Duggar asks this Court to recognize him for the person he is and the person he can become,” the memo says before noting that the defendant had never been charged with or convicted of a crime before this.
The memo continues by detailing the defense’s view of Duggar as a “fully devoted” family man who commits “selfless acts outside of the public spotlight that speak to his true character.”
The real Josh Duggar is not the caricature often portrayed in the public spotlight to sell a tabloid or to generate internet traffic — it is a profoundly hardworking man committed with every grain in his body to his family, his faith, and to helping those around him at any cost.Josh Duggar defense sentencing memorandum, filed in Western District of Arkansas Federal Court May 11
The memo continues by claiming that Duggar’s life has been “shattered” and that his “reputation, career, and family have all suffered.” It also states that he “will lead a productive and lawful life following any sentence imposed by this Court.” Duggar also “maintains his innocence” while accepting that the crime in question is serious and that the court must impose a punishment.
The filing continues by asking the court to “consider this crime within its proper context and consider the person Duggar really is,” noting his “perfect performance on pretrial bond.”
“This is a defendant who will never find himself before this, or any other Court ever again,” it states. “And a defendant who will abide by whatever conditions of supervised release this Court imposes.”
The memorandum proceeds to detail the procedural background of the trial, including the fact that the parties agreed that one count would be dismissed if Duggar was found guilty. It also reiterates the defense’s post-trial request for an acquittal or a new trial.
In a section discussing the legal standard, the defense repeats that the sentence should be “sufficient, but not greater than necessary,” and adds that United States Sentencing Guidelines, while advisory, “are no longer mandatory.”
The prosecution also noted these guidelines in recommending the maximum sentence.
The defense continued by noting its objection to the government’s pre-sentencing report (PSR) and states that the government’s request for an enhancement due to distribution should not apply.
“At trial, there was absolutely no evidence presented that Duggar ‘knowingly’ distributed anything,” the defense states. “No testimony or evidence suggested any knowing distribution.”
The defense also objected to an enhancement for “sadistic and masochistic conduct” in the CSAM, stating that there is “an insufficient evidentiary basis” for the inclusion.
Next, the defense proposes that there should be no enhancement for Duggar’s “Uncharged Alleged Conduct as a Child,” calling it “entirely unwarranted.” The memo then asks the court to consider that the alleged offenses occurred more than 20 years ago, adding that “this cannot possibly be reasonably construed to constitute a ‘pattern of activity’ sufficient to warrant an increase of 5 offense levels.”
The defense cites both the lengthy duration since the incidents as well as Duggar’s age at the time as factors in their stance.
The number of images involved was also in dispute. The defense stated that “according to the Government’s own forensic report, only 127 images were allegedly located.” The prosecution maintained that more than 600 images were downloaded.
Next, the defense included a “Motion for Downward Variance,” citing factors and case law that show that “a sentence of 60 months is sufficient.” The memo continues by describing Duggar’s “atypical” childhood and cites his “hard work” multiple times. The memo also quotes letters that were attached to the filing, including ones from the defendant’s wife, other relatives and friends.
The defense calls Duggar “a wonderful father and husband” and continues describing his generosity, benevolence and kindness for multiple pages. Then, it notes that federal courts have “historically recognized extraordinary family circumstances as an appropriate basis for a downward departure” in sentencing and cites several prior cases.
The document then addresses “The Nature and Circumstances of the Offense,” recognizing that the offense in question is serious while maintaining the defendant’s innocence. They added that it was important to “place what allegedly occurred here into context” before describing the three-day period during which the illegal downloads took place.
The filing also noted that nearly six months passed between the downloads and the execution of the search warrant at Duggar’s car lot.
“Despite no one having any idea there was an ongoing federal investigation, absolutely no illegal activity occurred during these six months,” the defense says. “Stated simply, this is not the typical case in which a defendant amasses child pornography, continues to seek it out, and holds onto it indefinitely.”
The memo continues by asserting that the “extremely short period of time during which the offense was allegedly committed” is a factor and “makes clear” that a five-year sentence is sufficient. It adds that “many courts” have found child pornography sentencing guidelines to be “excessively harsh,” citing several other case rulings and verdicts.
The bottom line is that with a lifetime of sex offender registration requirements and the inherent shame and humiliation that comes with this history in a Google era, Duggar will have to suffer the consequences of his conviction for the rest of his life — regardless of how long he is in prison.Josh Duggar defense sentencing memorandum, filed in Western District of Arkansas Federal Court May 11
The defense also called some of the ramifications of supervised release and “the corresponding limits on his freedom” in some ways “actually worse than jail.” The memo also notes that 60-month sentences in child pornography cases are “far from uncommon,” citing other cases with that same sentence.
The memorandum concludes by quoting an “age-old adage [that] ‘justice must be tempered with mercy.'”
“Duggar continues to have so much good to offer the world,” the defense states. “We ask that this Court give him that opportunity.” The filing noted that a 60-month sentence would “satisfy all the purposes of sentencing.”
The filing was signed by defense attorneys Justin Gelfand and Travis Story.
Duggar’s sentencing is scheduled for May 25.