Raleigh Child Pornography Lawyer
Child Pornography offenses are deemed by both State and Federal courts as some the most serious crimes you can commit. The offenses include:
- Possession of child pornography
- Downloading child pornography from the internet
- Swapping or trading child pornography between individuals or other “collectors” of child pornography
- Transferring to other media and saving or collecting child pornography
If convicted, such charges elicit significant active prison sentences. The length of a sentence will typically depend on the number of images or video clips of prepubescent children, the content of those images, and the degree of manipulation of that material, i.e. any evidence of saving, re-sending, swapping, downloading, trafficking or creating the material.
There is substantial cooperation between State and Federal investigators, including prosecutors, to target and prosecute individuals for these offenses. Moreover, both state and federal sentencing laws are severe. Conviction of even relatively minor charges on either level can result in registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act, which applies to both State and Federal offenders. The Registration requirements can mean lifetime registration, and in some instances, lifetime satellite monitoring and restrictions on residency, associations, employment and travel.
Because of these harsh consequences, the child pornography lawyers at Manning Law Firm have provided an overview of child pornography law and what to do if charged.
Child Pornography cases explained
Society views Child Pornography as an atrocity against children and humanity as a whole. Because the crime is considered so severe, the stakes are always high and the applicable laws are strict. This affects your case in the following ways:
- Child pornography charges are fairly easy to investigate. Every action a user makes on the internet is traceable to some extent, which makes it easier for police to monitor online activity from a variety of angles and in a wider capacity. This typically allows investigators to obtain a search warrant and conduct a search of the individual’s computer for the illegal content. They will search websites that are known portals for child sexual pornographic material using sophisticated algorithms. Investigators can then identify domains and track users for further investigation.
- Law enforcement aggressively hunts online predators. Investigators work tirelessly to hunt child pornography and locate the individual(s) in possession of it. And given the ease with which police can monitor online activity, the number of filed child pornography cases on the docket has been increasing each year since 2005.
- Prosecutors seek high sentences. The state views child pornography as a heinous offense and pushes for substantial sentences when trying such cases. Simply possessing illegal imagery can result in multiple years in prison. Federal child pornography charges also carry mandatory minimum sentences, which make higher sentencing much more likely. Maximum sentences range from 10 years to life imprisonment for first-time offenders.
- Content does not have to depict a minor to be illegal. Sexual content that merely alleges or purports to depict a minor can also qualify as child pornography.
Requirements for a Federal Child Pornography charge
In order to be convicted on a child pornography charge, the government must prove the following:
The government must prove that you knowingly possessed some form of content that contained child pornography, and that the content was obtained or created by materials that moved in interstate or foreign commerce. This means that the images moved through phone lines, through the internet, through the mails or through private delivery services. It includes emails, text messages with attachments or photographic attachments, etc. Interstate commerce is anything which moves across a state line during transmission. Furthermore, any State through which the image travelled can have jurisdiction for prosecution on either a State or Federal level.
Common defenses to a Child Pornography charge
- Lack of evidence – If there is lack of evidence to prove any of the four elements above, the charges against you could be dropped. For example, there could be thousands of files on your computer that you have no idea about. Thus, courts that have dismissed child pornography charges because there was not enough evidence to prove that the defendant viewed or otherwise possessed child pornography. Establishing this defense requires the use of forensic specialists to identify the reasons for the presence of the material without your knowledge and is extremely time-consuming and expensive to establish, if it is at all possible to do so.
- Accidental possession – Sometimes, there is a question of accidental vs. knowing possession. Child pornography cases have been dismissed because the prosecution could not prove that the defendant knew or intended to possess the sexually explicit content. However, accidental downloading of child pornography requires self-reporting to authorities, an investigation and a determination. And while self-reporting does not bar prosecution, it does give the prosecutor discretion not to pursue the case. All the more reason to speak with the knowledgeable attorneys at Manning Law Firm.
If a user acquires a sexual depiction of a minor online and immediately deletes it, but the police find it during a search of the hard drive, did he/she ever knowingly possess the illegal content? Courts have determined that even if a user acquires an image as a result of a voluntary action, merely searching for the content does not indicate a wanton possession. After all, looking for something and possessing it are two very different things. However, if the image was downloaded into the computer and saved, even for an instant, possession of child pornography has occurred. Even if deleted and found later by law enforcement, the image could be the source of prosecution.
On the other hand, the ability to control an image qualifies as possession – that once a user receives a sexual depiction of a minor, he has the ability to download it, save it, share it, etc.
What to do if you have been charged with child pornography
If you are under investigation for child pornography charges, think you are under investigation for child pornography charges, or if law enforcement questions you about your internet use, or come to your home or place of work with a search warrant to seize your cellular phone, your tablet or laptop, your hard drives or other media storage devices, it is crucial that you call knowledgeable child pornography lawyer immediately. Before you make any statement, however innocent or innocuous you may feel it is, it’s important to have an experienced child pornography lawyer on your side.
The child pornography lawyers at Manning Law Firm have longtime and varied experience in child pornography investigations, negotiations and trials, as well as sentencing phases of child pornography investigations and cases in both state and federal courts.
What if I’m accused of child pornography, but didn’t do it?
The experienced attorneys at Manning Law Firm, PLLC understand that innocent people are accused of, or are subject to criminal investigations, frequently. Child pornography offenses, and whether or not a person should be charged are complex matters. Even where downloading child pornography occurs as an inadvertence or accident, it can result in charges being brought. This type of investigation or charging often occurs as a result of using file sharing programs in an indiscriminate manner, seeking certain information types and downloading child pornography.
If you find yourself blindsided by an investigation for possession, creation or distribution of child pornography, Manning Law Firm’s child pornography lawyers can assist you in: (a) determining the scope of any precise allegations or type of investigation, (b) the authority(ies) primarily involved, i.e., local, state or F.B.I, DHS/ICE, Secret Service, etc.; (c) provide you with accurate assessment of your situation; and (d) devise and execute a strategy to work toward the ideal outcome of your individual situation. In child pornography investigations and prosecutions, the sooner we become involved with you, the more likely it will be that we can affect the outcome for you.
Why should I hire the child pornography lawyers at Manning Law Firm, PLLC?
- Our lawyers have represented clients being investigated and/or prosecuted for child pornography violations in state and federal courts since the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Congress and the Legislature began to define child pornography offenses and dramatically increased the punishments for possession and distribution of this material to be nearly equivalent to actually kidnapping and exploiting the child victims of these offenses.
- We have more than 40 years of experience in the investigative, federal grand jury and trial experience, which has provided us with extensive knowledge of the federal trial courts and state trial courts.
- We provide focused, knowledgeable and determined effort to assess, advise, plan and execute a specific defense strategy for each client in order to achieve the most appropriate outcome for the client.
Fight for your future
Do not speak to law enforcement agents before contacting the child pornography defense attorneys at Manning Law Firm. Your future could depend on it. Call us or schedule a free consultation to immediately to begin your defense.