"I don’t know where to start in this situation"!
The answer to the title question, "is there is any light at the end of the tunnel if I’m charged with possession of child pornography" is ,"it depends".
Unfortunately, there is no one answer to that particular question. There are big differences in sentences and punishments in the federal system and the State system. Generally, the sentences in federal court are much harsher and sometimes include mandatory Federal penitentiary time. In state court, there are many instances where my office has been able to not only keep individuals out of jail but also keep it off the record.
Truly, there are many factors that could have a serious impact on whether or not the consequences of any investigation or criminal charge put you in jail or how the case resolves.
Here are a few basic questions.
- Are you charged in federal court or state court?
- What are the number of images or video that detectives, agents or police found on your electronic device or devices?
- Were you using a peer to peer program?
- Did you distribute CP via email or any other type of application deliberately?
- When law enforcement approached you by startle you at your house or place of business, did you make any type of statement against interest by admitting to downloading, searching or possessing illegal images?
- Did you use any type of scrubbing device on your electronic devices?
- The apparent age of the subjects in the CP has a direct impact on how law enforcement decides to proceed. Example, if there are a Lot of images are video of subjects under the age of 14.
- The nature and visualization of the images and or video.
- Any type of 4th amendment search and seizure issues that arise from the initial downloading of images from your computer by law enforcement.
- The mitigation factors surrounding your state of mind when these events occurred.
There are basic fundamental preparation actions that should be taken in any see P case. For example, your lawyer should have an evaluation done by a qualified counselor to determine if there are any type of pedophilia issues.
Sometimes, these cases can grind out for quite a few months. Sometimes over a year or more. Much of it depends upon what courthouse you were in and also the judge and prosecutor involved. Let’s face it, just like politics all legal issues are "local".
There is one fact that has stuck in my mind since I started practicing law over 27 years ago. If a defendant is determined to fix and make a situation work-out many times that can occur. A big factor is whether or not your lawyer knows how to steer the ship. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have someone who has experience and understanding not just of the mechanical criminal elements in law itself, but also the psychological and background understanding of how these cases often originate.
The bottom line factor is that if you are charged or being investigated with possession, receipt, manufacturing or distributing child pornography, don’t put your head in the sand. Find the most qualified attorney you can find. Question your lawyer about specifics and find out how many previous CP cases he or she has handled in the past.
James E Crawford Jr.