Child Pornography Charges – A Zero Sum Game

Child Pornography Charges – A Zero Sum Game

Federal and State Child Pornography Charges are sometimes fatal even when they don’t have to be.

One of the most difficult  issues people face  in our society is being accused of a crime by the Government. The accusers could be the federal government or state government and in some cases an administrative agency. What I want to discuss today is the plain fact that I have seen self inflicted  tragedies consistently occurring with individuals who are being investigated for child pornography or a sex abuse case in recent years on the rise.

I’ve been practicing law on the state level and the federal level for close to 30 years. As many people know I handle a tremendous amount of sex offense cases as well as child pornography allegations. Most of these cases begin when a detective or an agent either contacts the accused or they simply "rush" into the home or business of the accused.

The best advice I can give anyone who is being questioned by law enforcement is – "don’t do it"!

In the majority of  CP cases the agents or detectives usually do not arrest the alleged perpetrator the day that the search warrant is served or an interrogation occurs. In other words, when they come to the home to investigate most of the time all the electronic devices are taken from the premises so they can be analyzed at a later time. What most people don’t understand is that this is the "prime time" for the agents or detectives to gather evidence right out of the alleged perpetrator’s mouth. Because of the vulnerability of the individual who is sitting right next to their family with law enforcement controlling their home and invading the privacy, most people tend to cooperate because they are scared. The other reason is that many times it is "inferred" that if cooperation does not occur right then and there, an arrest may occur that day or other individuals in the family business may be charged. Most of the time that is the last thing a defendant wants to see happen.

I am not a mental health professional, but I have dealt with and used many mental health professionals who have testified on my client’s behalf for many years. From a lawyer’s perspective and a layman’s perspective, there is no doubt in my mind that when individuals or accused of acts such as possession, manufacturing or distributing CP, the weight of the entire world falls on them immediately. Everything they have worked for their entire life, including their family, their home, their job and everything in between seems to be going up in smoke in their mind.

The reason I am writing about this today is in the last 18 months or so I’ve seen several "potential" clients take their own life right after being informed by the government or police that they are suspects in CP cases or sex offense cases. The over bearing weight and heaviness of a potential criminal charge and trial, let alone any type of punishment such as jail sometimes puts individuals in the state of mind where they believe there is no hope.

Let me be clear,  these individuals I’ve seen take their life recently seems to be a growing trend in many ways. It’s very sad and unfortunate because if they had good representation there is a very good chance that the situation could have been resolved minimally. Again, you never know based upon the specific facts alleged but when a defendant takes their own life, there is no chance of success whatsoever.

These individuals I’m referring to are individuals who found out that they were potentially going to be charged with CP allegations and or a sex offense and they were so distraught that they decided to end her life. In these cases, the family had set up appointments to come see me hours later, but unfortunately they never showed up. We received phone calls that there would be no meeting because of the tragic taking of their own life.

As a criminal defense lawyer, I’m not espousing or trying to say that criminal charges are something not to be worried about. Many times these individuals see no way out because they have not yet spoken to me or another criminal defense lawyer to try and fix the situation. Again, I’m not trying to indicate that their issues would have been taking care of in full, although that is a possibility, but what I am saying is that most of the time the situation is not as tragic as they may think.

Emotionally, it is very difficult knowing that in some of these cases if I would had an opportunity to speak with these persons and they would have been able to keep an appointment with me, who knows, I may have been able to help them to actually prevent this from occurring. Many times the race is between the government and criminal defense attorneys. Who meets the defendant and discussed the case  first  is paramount. That is why I continue to tell individuals that they should not speak to any law enforcement about any accusations whatsoever. This includes polygraphs, discussions or any other type of communications unless it is authorized by your lawyer.

I used the words "zero sum" as a way to explain that there is really no more of a tragedy that can occur when someone in that situation takes their own life and leaves family members behind to pick up the pieces. It’s a tragedy of unspeakable proportions.

Family Members need to be aware!

I would urge anyone in that situation to not take any drastic action until they speak with a duly qualified criminal defense attorney that can create a roadmap to show you the potential consequences and a possible way to fix it. As I said previously, yes many times the consequences can be severe. However, many times the end result is much better than you can imagine.

Family members who see individuals in the situation are usually  just as upset as the defendant. However, it is incumbent upon individuals around the defendant such as family members and friends  to really make it clear that they need to strive together to fight any allegations thrown upon them. It’s also very important for family members in that situation to understand how vulnerable "they" (defendant’s) are to any type of depression or spontaneous actions that could have final consequences.

The bottom line is that people are sometimes charged with crimes. It is so important to have someone (a lawyer) you can trust to give you the bottom line answers about where your life is going. That’s why as a criminal defense attorney such as my firm take it very seriously when it comes to protecting people’s lives.

Jim Crawford