Possession of Child Pornography
Baltimore Child Pornography Defense Attorney Serving Annapolis, Bel Air & throughout Maryland
Most defendants become aware that they were under suspicion of possessing child pornography when law enforcement approaches them in one of several ways. The first methodology occurs when state or federal law enforcement officers knock when your door usually about 5:00 AM with a warrant seeking to inspect all your electronic devices. Frequently, they will put individuals of the family in different rooms and ask key individuals or suspects who are been looking at child pornography. They will use every available tactic including the “good cop, bad cop” formula to try to extract a confession from you and possibly other individuals who reside with you in your home or business.
The entire idea for them is to put you in a situation where a jury down the road would believe that only you had access and only you had the ability to download, receive, distribute and/or view said contraband. In other words, you had control of what occurred and made it happen. That is why it is very important for you not to admit or discuss details about the electronic devices at all.
Many times they will threaten to charge children, spouses or other family members unless you admit to possessing or distributing same. They create pressure and are usually very good at it.
When you are in this situation call me, Jim Crawford, to get ahead of the game. Your freedom and future may depend on it.
To be charged with federal possession of child pornography it is not always essential that you are originally investigated by federal agents. The FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Post Office Department of inspection, Homeland security and other federal agencies are the primary originators of these investigations. An investigation may begin by the reporting of illegal images via the use of an app on held devices, the backdoor use of investigative techniques combing frequent child pornography sites, peer to peer networks and other digital or electronic means. Whatever method is used, it is extremely important that an experienced attorney make a determination as to whether or not law enforcement acted properly under the 4th amendment regarding any search and seizure liberties they may have taken. Often, because of the newness of the websites and or App that is being used, law enforcement is behind the learning curve just like most of the public. Many mistakes are made by law enforcement on the state and federal levels regarding these investigation techniques. It is up to an experienced attorney to see how law enforcement proceeded with their investigation and make a determination as to whether or not any evidence obtained is in fact, fruit of the poisonous tree.
Possession of Child Pornography
Federal law defines possession of child pornography under 18 U.S.C. section 2252. It is basically defined as knowingly possessing images or video that contain a minor engaging in the sexually explicit conduct. A minor is defined as an individual under the age of 18. Sexually explicit conduct under the Federal code has been defined as sexual intercourse, masturbation, bestiality, sadistic abuse, the exhibition of genitals in a sexual manner and a variety of other things. The government must prove that the images exhibit a minor conducting acts that are sexually explicit.
In many situations, people come to me and say that the images they were looking at are not sexually explicit. For example, I’ve seen many situations where the individual portrayed is definitely a minor but the real question becomes whether or not the activity is sexual or the general nature of the image or video is sexual. Many times a jury can be convinced that the nature of the video or images are not sexual in nature. A good example is an image of a nudist beach wear many people of all sizes ages and creeds are shown. If there is no focus on the minor of anything sexual, then most likely the images are not deemed child pornography. Another example would be a family picture of a child taking a bath right before bedtime. If there is no specific focus on genitalia or anything sexual than most likely there are images are not deemed child pornography as well. However, in many situations, erotica or even images of children not naked can be deemed child pornography when they are in fact sexual nature. Each image needs to be determined specifically as to its nature and whether or not it qualifies as a violation of federal law.
For first-time offender on the federal level, a conviction of child pornography possession carries with the sentence of between zero and 10 years in federal custody. There is no mandatory sentence. However, in many situations the federal government will in fact charge individuals with simple possession as well as distribution or manufacturing. The particular facts of the case, the number of images, the nature of the images, the age of the participants are all major factors in making a determination of a sentence. If the defendant has been convicted previously of any sex-related offense in state or federal court then there is a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years. The statutory maximum jail time is up to 20 years.
There is no question that over the last 30 years Congress has made federal child pornography laws tougher and stricter by adding mandatory jail time and higher sentences. The federal sentencing guidelines have been revised relating to federal child pornography charges at least 9 times since the late 1980s. Statistics show that in the last 15 years the federal guidelines are going up as far as penalties and judges are getting much more strict and harsher regarding child pornography possession sentences.
If you are charged with child pornography possession, distribution, manufacturing or receipt call my office immediately at (443) 709-9999. It is imperative that we take certain steps to protect your future and your freedom as soon as possible.