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Child Porn Charges Are High Stakes

Child pornography cases are one of the fastest-growing areas of state and federal prosecutions in this country. The fact is, most law enforcement agencies that handle these matters rely on a “set procedure” and “script” when they attempt to gather evidence. That includes making contact with you and or your family at your home or some other area that makes it clear they mean business. Your job at that particular point is to not discuss anything with them. They are there for one reason – to gather evidence. You will not be able to talk your way out of the situation at that very moment. Take a deep breath and call us.

At The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC, we’ve been defending child pornography cases for 30 years on the state and federal levels. When your life, freedom and livelihood are being threatened, you need a serious trial team.

If you’re facing child pornography charges, you don’t have time to wait. Call us at 443-971-8884 or send us an email to get a free criminal defense consultation.

Federal and state prosecutions for child pornography are a very “different” niche in the law. If you are being prosecuted or you have been notified of an investigation, please call counsel immediately. You need someone who is extremely experienced in this area of the law. There are countless pitfalls and potential impediments. Law enforcement, when investigating a matter will seek to put you in the general category of someone who is guilty. It takes a qualified eye and someone with the experience to prevent the government from walking all over you.

  • Federal and state distribution and/ or possession of child pornography: Many times child pornography cases begin at the state level and are referred to the Justice Department for prosecution. You could face a very high federal prison sentence based on the federal sentencing guidelines. When released potential lifetime supervision and registration as a sex offender could occur. Even if you have no prior criminal record the results could be devastating unless you are protected.
  • Soliciting of a minor: State and federal law enforcement agents seek to entrap individuals while posing as a minor or someone looking for sex. There are countless forums online where this occurs. If you were involved in even a “minor” conversation online, it could lead to major consequences.
  • Soliciting prostitution: One of the oldest crimes known is solicitation or “assignation” of a prostitute. First-time offenders usually do not face major jail time, but the embarrassment and other consequences can be devastating. We can help you obtain an outcome that can change the direction of many of these potential issues.
  • Child sexual abuse and physical abuse: Maryland law does in fact allow “reasonable corporal punishment” under certain circumstances. The defense to most of these cases is that the “hitting or striking” was not done in an “angry” fashion, but merely for reasonable discipline. It’s a fine line, but the words you speak to a police officer or a detective can be fatal.

Keep your constitutionally granted legal rights while fighting accusations of child pornography possession and/or distribution with the help of one of the preeminent defense attorneys in Maryland at JC Law.

How does a child pornography case start?

On both the state and federal levels, undercover detectives troll the internet for child pornography consumers and abusers. State police, county police and specialized federal agencies immerse themselves in technology monitoring and tracking on computers throughout Maryland.

Most of the time, the case begins when a detective searches for individual IP addresses where child pornography might be stored. Each detective is assigned several computers, and they have specialized programs for tracking down the distribution of child pornography.

This approach puts people who use “torrenting” or file sharing sites at risk of investigation by the police. Police can use the system to download images and videos from the computers of anyone who is using these programs and websites, making them potential “distributors” of child pornography. At the very least, exposing your computer to these sites risks an initial, expensive and reputation-killing investigation.

Now, if police can download child pornography from your hard drive, they can establish that you have these images on your computer. In the eyes of the law, this may establish distribution and possession.

After the police determine that you possess or are distributing child pornography, they file a subpoena to your cable provider and get the IP address for your computer. They then obtain your actual, physical address. That’s when they knock on your door. To them, you’re already in deep trouble before the trial even starts.

How do prosecutors and law enforcement build a child pornography case?

The basic elements that a federal or state prosecutor must prove against you in any child pornography case are:

  • You knowingly possessed, distributed and/or received the child pornography in question
  • The child pornography in question is images or video
  • That the image or video presented is, in fact, child pornography
  • The image or video affected interstate commerce or was made by items that moved in interstate commerce (for federal cases – Maryland prosecutors only care that it happened in Maryland)

The entire idea is to put anyone accused of child pornography in a situation where a jury would believe that you had access to the computer in question, and that only you had the ability to download, receive, distribute or view said contraband.

In other words, you had control of what occurred and made it happen. The ability to follow through on the intent to commit an illegal act is what prosecutors try to prove.

To build that case during their investigation, police and prosecutors will evaluate:

  • The number of videos and images on your computer or device
  • The frequency you have visited internet destinations in question
  • The nature and type of video or images
  • The age of the child or children in question as well as the sexual acts involved
  • Whether there are any email exchanges, chat rooms involved or solicitation attempts discovered
  • The nature of any conversations with undercover police officers, if any have occurred

Additionally, law enforcement uses many other techniques to build their child pornography charges against defendants. Apps, the “dark web,” and other technologies are constantly created by the government to find the true source of child pornography.

What charges are associated with child pornography?

When it comes to child porn cases, generally defendants are charged with:

  • Possession of child pornography
  • Distribution – or intent to distribute – child pornography
  • Creation of child pornography

As for whether said charges are brought by state-level or federal-level law enforcement, it depends on whether law enforcement believes the pornography crossed state lines.

Pornography charges can be charged in federal court when prosecutors allege:

  • Physical transportation of a USB drive or printed images across state lines;
  • Online distribution or storage of pornography on electronic servers in another state; or
  • Conspiracy to create illegal child pornography that occurred across state lines.

Can experts or polygraph tests help a child pornography case?

Many individuals will claim that they never intended to download or view the pornography in question. Polygraphs and stress tests may be beneficial to the defendant. Usually, though, they are not unless your criminal defense attorney sets it up during an investigation. These tests are not always considered reliable.

Other techniques and expert witnesses may be extremely beneficial in convincing the government to drop its case. For example, in specifically federal child pornography cases, the law is divided on whether an accidental download and deletion of child porn constitute the “intent” to receive illegal contraband.

All who use computers on a daily basis realized that sometimes when we search, the internet intrusions pop up on our screen and we don’t even understand how or why that occurs.

That very common situation is one of the reasons why our firm believes that computer experts are extremely important to show whether or not an individual intended to download these images.

What possible penalties could be handed down for a federal child pornography sentence?

Convictions regarding child pornography vary, depending on whether the charges were state or federal prosecutors, the type of offense, and any criminal history. However, federal convictions of distribution or receipt of child pornography carry a minimum sentence of five years to 20 years – for a first-time offense.

Convictions related to child pornography in Maryland state court have equally devastating impacts on your professional and personal life. If convicted in state court, you may face:

  • Up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines for a first offense
  • Up to 20 years in prison and $50,000 in fines for subsequent convictions
  • Up to five years of probation
  • Participation in a mandatory sex offender rehabilitation program
  • Electronic monitoring with the very visible and chunky ankle monitors
  • Computer restrictions and limited use of the internet

Judges cannot give less than the mandatory minimum sentencing. Again: If you are convicted in federal court of possessing or distributing child porn, you will go to jail for at least five years. If you have prior convictions, the sentence could go as high as 40 years.

How can defense attorneys effectively fight child pornography accusations?

Many times, investigations overstep the boundaries of the Fourth Amendment and other criminal procedure rules. This involves search and seizure, starting with the search warrant and the actual serving of the warrant on the defendant.

If law enforcement acted prematurely or obtained the warrant improperly based upon insufficient evidence or exceeded their ability under the warrant, then the Fourth Amendment search and seizure laws may apply. That’s why an experienced Maryland child pornography defense lawyer makes sure the police did not overstep their bounds. And, if they did? That evidence is no longer as helpful to the prosecution. The situation presents a bargaining chip regarding possible sentencing and penalties.

Also, a pre-indictment investigation may limit or prevent the government from proceeding. It is extremely important that a defendant retain an experienced defense attorney experienced in both federal and state child pornography cases to represent them and file for these actions to limit the damage.

Finally, a big hurdle for prosecutors to overcome is whether or not you simply viewed said images, attempted to save said images or intended to actually receive said images.

The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was you and no one else that completed these acts. Search terms, viewing of the contraband and even a discussion by the agents of masturbation while viewing said contraband comes into play.

Get Help Today

With over 30 years of experience helping people across Maryland fight all criminal charges, you’re in good hands with us. Call our Linthicum office at 443-971-8884 or send us an email to get started.