Child pornography is defined as any material that depicts minors involved in sexually explicit conduct. This type of crime has been taken much more seriously by state and federal courts in recent years. The penalties have also become increasingly more severe.
Child Pornography Possession in State Court
Possession of any visual content that shows a child (a person under sixteen years of age) who is exhibiting sexual excitement or is engaging in sadomasochistic abuse or other sexual acts is strictly prohibited.
In a state prosecution, first offenders could be subject to a fine not to exceed $2,500 and/or up-to five years in jail, according to Maryland Criminal Code Section 11-208. Repeat offenders may have to pay a fine of up to $10,000 or be sentenced to a maximum of ten years in prison. If the accused person properly reported those materials to the police or attempted to destroy those items, a judge may be more lenient in terms of sentencing or they may not be charged at all. It will depend on the individual situation and the judge who is presiding over the case.
Child pornography possession is a level five offense according to current Maryland sentencing guidelines. It will necessitate the accused being listed as a sex offender. That classification will be listed on their record for fifteen years. Probation may or may not be granted by the judge. In some instances, a judge may allow for probation before judgment. If that happens, the accused might not have to register, unless registration is one of the components of their probation.
Child Pornography Distribution or Production in State Court
Under Maryland Criminal Code Section 11-207, no person is allowed to possess pornographic videos or images of children that they plan on distributing or selling to others. Distribution does not require any form of compensation. This also includes any intentional or unintentional sharing of child pornography files. People cannot promote those materials in any way. No one can use computers to retain, develop or alter child pornography, nor can they create photos or other images, videos or film recordings of such acts. No one can hire, solicit or let a minor be involved in any works that would show the minor engaging in sexual activities or conduct that could be considered sadomasochistic.
Penalties for a first offense can be a fine of no more than $25,000 and/or up to ten years in jail. Any following child pornography production or distribution convictions can bring a prison sentence of up to twenty years and/or a fine that does not surpass $50,000. If the defendant already has other active felonies on their record, these fines and jail sentences could be increased accordingly. Federal charges may be added if warranted.. If the accused is found guilty of any sex crimes or has other convictions, the sex offender designation could be on their record for the rest of their life.
Federal Child Porn
People convicted of child pornography possession, production or distribution could also be brought up on federal charges after investigations have been conducted. Under 18 U.S. Code Section 2251, people cannot legally coerce, induce, entice or otherwise persuade a minor to be involved in sexually explicit photos, videos or other media that is intended to visually display that type of behavior.
Possible federal charges include producing descriptions of a minor that are sexually explicit and imported into the country and buying and selling of children images. Online or in-person solicitation of minors can result in charges that are associated with content that includes or is made up of child pornography. Those efforts and materials may be viewed as sexual exploitation of children which is also illegal.
How Is Evidence Gathered?
Officers may request search warrants once any IP addresses that are connected with possible child pornography are located. In most of those instances, the network host will comply with law enforcement investigations. Certain officers or detectives may also pretend to distribute or possess child pornography in an effort to identify offenders. In the state of Maryland, local law enforcement agencies may work with the computer crimes division of the state police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Maryland/DC ICAC Task Force.
Tips will often be investigated. A police officer may request a search warrant to obtain your computer and any other possible sources of child pornography in your home. Computer images, videos, and chat room activity may be reviewed. Officers and/or FBI members may ask for statements from anyone who lives in or could have reasonable access to the house. Those statements can then be used as evidence by prosecuting attorneys.
These attorneys may call several witnesses or experts to the stand who can corroborate the claims that were made against you. Police, Agents and other witnesses may testify on the prosecution’s behalf. Prosecutors may also ask the court to examine videos or any other content in question to determine whether or not it falls under the child pornography classification.
A good lawyer will listen to your concerns. You can contact us for a no obligation consultation. We can help stop police officers from interrogating you or others in child pornography cases. Maryland law requires that ownership of any child pornography materials must be intentional. The accused should know that they have such items in their possession, even if they had no plans of sharing them with anyone else. Unintentional ownership of child pornography can be a valid defense in a court of law.
How Could This Affect Me?
Even if you’re completely innocent of the charges, child pornography accusations can be very damaging. The perception can damage a person’s image. They can be viewed differently in the public eye. It may even negatively impact personal relationships with others.
Having a felony conviction on your record can also affect your ability to get a job or apply for credit. It may prevent you from being able to secure a mortgage loan or advance in your current career.