Baltimore Child Pornography Defense Attorney
Experienced Criminal Lawyer Serving Maryland
Over the years, our criminal defense lawyer has learned that many people who are charged with child pornography are the kind of person who would never engage in a sexually deviant act with a real child. There are as many false accusations in child pornography cases as there are actual crimes. It is one of the fastest rising criminal accusations in the country. Our law firm has immersed ourselves in understanding how and why these laws are violated, and how we can effectively represent our clients. Our lawyer has years of experience handling these matters and uses every means available to try and prevent a child pornography prosecution.
When you retain the Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, we can assess your situation immediately. Charges could take time to be filed against you and this is the opportunity to find holes in the government’s case to try and prevent actual criminal charges.
Call (443) 709-9999 to get started.
How Does the Case Against You Start?
On both the state and federal level, detectives are usually undercover, trolling 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.
Each detective is assigned several computers, and they have specialized programs for tracking down the distribution of child pornography. Most of the time, the case begins when a detective searches for individual IP addresses where child pornography might be stored. People who use bittorrent programs allow themselves to be exposed to police investigators to see what they have downloaded. Police can use the system to download images and videos from the computers of anyone who is on the bittorrent program.
If police can download it 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 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.
How Law Enforcement Will Find Child Pornography
As technology expands, law enforcement is using broader methods to track down users and IP addresses of child pornography users. Commercial sites, apps, the dark web, and other methodologies are being tapped into by law enforcement to try and locate child pornography.
In evaluating your case, police and prosecutors will evaluate:
- The number of video 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 e-mail exchanges involved, chat rooms involved, solicitation attempts discovered
- The nature of any conversations with undercover police officers, if any have occurred
Many times, these acts overstep the boundaries of the Fourth Amendment and other criminal procedure rules. An experienced Baltimore child pornography defense lawyer needs to make sure the police did not overstep their bounds.
Child Pornography Consequences in Baltimore
Under the Maryland criminal code, obscene matter is prohibited by several statutes. Possession of pictures, drawings, photographs, films, video, or even written material that meets certain criteria is forbidden. Most of us are aware that possessing, manufacturing, or distributing of images or video of underage children is illegal. An interesting new series of cases addresses fake imagery. Fake imagery can be drawings, cartoons, anime, and even a combination of film and fake imagery.
Possession, Production, Manufacture, or Distribution of Child Pornography
Most of the time, defendants are caught and charged via a bit torrent program where the law enforcement officer searches for child pornography. If you have it on your computer, and often people have it in their share file without even knowing it, then that is considered possessing child pornography or possibly sharing child pornography because others have access to it under the peer-to-peer network
Maryland Code 11-207 prohibits inducing, soliciting, or knowingly allowing a minor to engage as a subject of obscene material (child pornography), and visual representations or performances depicting a minor as subjected to sadomasochistic abuse or sexual conduct.
This statute includes:
- Computer transmissions
- Distribution or intent to distribute any of these visual representations
Maryland’s criminal code Section 11-208 prohibits a person from knowingly and intentionally possessing a film, videotape, photograph, or visual representation of a person under the age of 16 engaged in certain acts (mainly sexual conduct), in a state of sexual excitement, or engaged in sadomasochistic abuse.
Almost all child pornography cases now involve the use of an electronic device and the internet. With the advent of the internet, search engines, the dark web and torrent programs, an internet user must be aware of the possible download consequences. Many times images or video end up on a computer with the express intent of the searcher. However, once the material is found on the electronic device the burden quickly shifts to the accused to show otherwise.
A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony and on conviction is subject to:
- Penalties for a first offense involve imprisonment of up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000
- Subsequent convictions can bring a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $50,000 or both
Sexting, email, and other electronic means are also becoming more common. There are endless dating programs and exchange apps that allow video and images to be shared. The bottom line is that law enforcement will have to show that you possessed or distributed child pornography. Money does not have to be involved, and the detective’s questions will relate to the user’s personal pleasure with the materials.
Consequences of a Conviction in Maryland
The consequences of a conviction in Maryland can be devastating. In the last several years, the Maryland legislature has amped up strict requirements on convicted child pornography offenders. The sex registry is one massive consequence that is now used by the public and law enforcement as a means of exposing an individual to public scrutiny. That means job issues, housing issues, and problems in just about every other meaningful area of your life.
If you are convicted in state court, you may face additional requirements, such as:
- Probation for up to five years
- Completing a sex offender program
- Electronic monitoring
- Polygraph exams
- Home visits via your probation officer
- Computer restrictions and limited use of the internet
- Fines and court costs
Defenses to Child Pornography
It is an affirmative defense if a person takes reasonable steps to destroy any images or video, or reports the matter to a law enforcement agency. If this can be shown, then they are deemed not guilty of this statute.
A burden the prosecutor must show is actual or constructive possession of the imagery or video. Non-possession is a very common defense in these cases. Many times it is very difficult for the prosecution to prove this. Some of the more complicated defenses involve the use and technical evidence regarding computers and the internet. The Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates relies heavily on computer experts and cell phone experts that can help break down very technical matters that many times the prosecution may not have a solid grasp on.
How Our Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You
When you have been accused of a child pornography crime, it is imperative that you take immediate action. If the search just occurred at your residence or electronic equipment was just confiscated, then it is very important that your defense lawyer begin an investigation to determine if actual criminal charges can be prevented. Sometimes a prosecution can be avoided altogether. Other times, it’s a question of dealing with the state attorney to try and limit the actual criminal charges.
We Serve Clients Throughout Baltimore, Annapolis, Bel Air, Towson, Westminster & Montgomery County!
The Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates has been handling child pornography cases for over 25 years in Maryland. We have the experience to assist you when you need it the most – reach out to (443) 709-9999 to schedule a free consultation.