Child pornography is one of the worst, most heinous crimes throughout the United States. It is also one that can be prosecuted both on the state and federal levels. Child pornography is a sex crime that involves photographing, videotaping, possessing or distributing sexual content that depicts children under the age of 18. In many instances, the crime is committed when a person downloads files from the Internet that contain images or video of children engaged in sexual activity.
It can be challenging for a person to prove their innocence if it is discovered that they possess child pornography on their computer. As a result, it’s important to better understand the elements of this crime and how best to defend against it with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What is Child Pornography?
The term “child pornography” includes anything that shows a minor or a person who appears to be a minor involved in any type of sexual activity or conduct. It can include images, videos and even computer generated materials. If a video or photo has been modified to make it look like a child has been included and looks to be involved in a sex act therein, this can also be considered child pornography. The same goes for any pornographic content that shows a child in a sex act that is only simulated and not real. The only exception to this would be if an image is art that has a scientific, political, artistic or literary purpose, such as an image in an anatomy book describing the anatomy of a child.
How Can a Person Receive Federal Child Pornography Charges?
In order for a person to receive federal child pornography charges, they must knowingly possess, receive or distribute the content. In other words, there must be some level of knowledge involved, and the person must intend on possessing, receiving or distributing the content as well. If a person accidentally encounters child pornography, that is not enough to convict them of the crime.
In some cases, there may be an honest mistake of a person downloading child pornography onto their computer. For example, certain illegal torrent websites that allow people to download video content contain viruses and rouge content that is essentially thrown into a download. If a person used one of those sites to download a TV show and child pornography was thrown in and they had no knowledge of it, they could not be convicted of a crime.
Penalties and Sentences for Federal Child Pornography Crimes
If a person has been convicted of a first offense of child pornography, the penalties are still severe due to the horrific nature of the exploitation of children. Someone who created child pornography would receive 15 to 30 years in prison. Possessing and distributing such content can result in a person receiving 15 to 20 years in prison. Additionally, the individual would be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives.
Possible Defenses to Child Pornography Charges
One of the basic defenses against child pornography charges is to argue that the defendant didn’t know they were accessing or downloading such content or that they accidentally stumbled upon the material. There must be a sense of knowledge and intent in order for the prosecution to successfully prove that the defendant is guilty of federal child pornography crimes.
Another tactic the defense attorney can use is to argue that although the content was found on the individual’s computer, they did not download it. This is a defense that can potentially work if the computer in question is a shared device and another person or persons have access to it.
If the police did not have a search warrant and searched the defendant’s computer, that can also throw out the case. It would be inadmissible in court.
A person who has federal child pornography charges placed against them should know that it is a very serious situation. Such charges require the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend them in their case.
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