Investigations of Possession & Distribution of Child Pornography
What Happens in a Federal Child Pornography Investigation?
If you are under suspicion of possession or distribution of child pornography, members of federal law enforcement will perform a thorough investigation and look for evidence to corroborate the allegations against you. Unless you are accused of creating and distributing physical copies of lewd images of minors, the majority of your investigation will involve computers, programs, and Internet-based activities. Agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland Security typically begin their investigation by seizing your electronic devices and searching them for illegal content and a history of engaging in child pornography through various programs, websites, etc.
Because federal child pornography cases are prosecuted by the Department of Justice, it is rather simple for members of federal law enforcement to prove child pornography cases, given their digital capabilities. Sometimes federal child pornography investigations may even involve polygraph tests and stress examinations. Regardless of the methods they use, members of federal law enforcement are still constrained to prove the following:
- You knowingly distributed, possessed, and/or received pornographic images of a child or children.
- The child pornography in your possession is in video or picture format.
- The videos or pictures in your possession contain child pornography.
- The videos or pictures had an effect on interstate commerce.
What Happens in a State Child Pornography Investigation in Maryland?
Section 11 – 207 of the Maryland criminal code defines child pornography in the following terms and makes it illegal for individuals to do any of the following:
- Cause, induce, or permit a child to participate in producing obscene content which depicts a minor engaging in sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse
- Film or photograph a minor who is engaging in any sexual conduct
- Use a computer or other electronic device to depict or describe a minor engaging in sexual conduct
- Knowingly and willingly encourage, market, solicit, distribute, or possess visual or audio recording of a minor engaging in sexual conduct
State investigations into child pornography crimes typically involve surprise tactics, such as bursting into your home late at night or early in the morning, showing up unannounced at your place of work, or otherwise confronting you in a manner intended to catch you off guard and obtain a confession.
What Is at Stake in a State or Federal Child Pornography Investigation?
Child pornography involving interstate commerce is a federal offense. As such, you will likely be subject to state and federal penalties if you are found guilty of producing, possessing, or distributing child pornography in a manner involving the Internet and/or transfer of obscene materials across state or international borders. A federal child pornography conviction will result in large fines a minimum of 15 years in prison.
A Maryland state court will also have a say in your case. A child pornography conviction at the state level will almost always result in mandatory sex offender registration for life, as well as additional fines and prison sentences.
What to Do if Contacted by Local or Federal Authorities Regarding Child Pornography Allegations
You must seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you become aware that authorities are investigating you on suspicion of child pornography. Having a lawyer represent you may be key to ensuring authorities do not trample your constitutional rights during their investigation, and it will be essential if you are then charged with a crime. At the Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, we may be able to help you fight allegations related to child pornography and protect you from the harsh consequences of an official criminal conviction.
Do not wait. Call (443) 709-9999 today to speak to a criminal defense attorney in Baltimore or send us a message to schedule your consultation.