Have you been arrested under allegations of possessing or distributing child pornography? State and federal judicial systems have increased their efforts to crack down on child pornography and other related offenses. These offenses are not only aggressively prosecuted, but are severely penalized as well. If you are convicted of child pornography you will most likely be sentenced to time in prison, hefty fines, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
The stigma of a child pornography conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. Even if wrongfully charged your future employment, educational opportunities, and other aspects of your life may be affected. If you are facing child pornography charges, the only way to find the best possible outcome in your case is to have a highly skilled defense attorney on your side.
Unlike many attorneys who shy away from handling child pornography cases, I believe in defending my clients’ rights regardless of the charges they face. Whether you are facing state or federal charges, I will provide you with the vigorous defense you need.
California Child Pornography Laws
In California, child pornography falls under Penal Code 311 and is defined as the distribution, possession, production, promotion, or sale of any material that depicts a minor in a sexual situation. It doesn’t matter if the sexual situation in question was real or simulated in order to qualify as child pornography. Pornographic material can be in the form of a photograph, video, computer-generated image, or any other form. This includes “sexting” a naked picture of a minor to another person.
The most common child pornography charges prosecuted in California are:
- Possession of child pornography
- Distribution of child pornography
- Possession of obscene material
- Sharing of child pornography between peers
Penalties for Child Pornography Crimes
Most California child pornography crimes are “wobblers” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. While certain crimes carry mandatory sentences, other times the penalties will depend on the specifics or severity of the case. Factors such as the number of images in the defendant’s possession, the types of images, and prior convictions or charges can play a role in the sentencing.
For a misdemeanor conviction, the maximum penalty is one year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If tried is a felony, the maximum penalty increases to 16 months to 8 years in prison and fines as high as $100,000. Additionally, you may also be required to register as a sex offender, potentially for the rest of your life.
In the case of a “wobbler” offense, prosecutors will most likely charge the crime as a felony if any or all of the following is true:
- The material is “obscene.” Under California law, obscene material is defined as something that shows sexual conduct in an offensive way; lacks literary, artistic, social, political or scientific value; and that an average California adult would agree appeals to a prurient interest.
- The defendant attempted to trade the material commercially.
- The defendant attempted to show the material to someone under 18.
Legal Defenses Against Child Pornography Charges
There are many possible legal defenses that can be used to fight for your freedom and uphold your innocence. Prosecutors may try to coerce you into pleading guilty in exchange for certain sentence reductions or other bargains. Don’t allow yourself to be coerced into accepting a plea bargain. Some child pornography crimes carry mandatory sentences, and your guilty plea may land you jail time and fines when you could have maintained your innocence.
By pleading guilty you will also be subjecting yourself to the social stigmas of a child pornography conviction. Instead, the best thing that you can do is to consult a criminal defense attorney who can help you to fight your charges. With a strong defensive team on your side, it may even be possible to have your charges dismissed or acquitted.
Depending on the details of your case, your attorney may choose to use one of the following common defense strategies:
- Innocence —Viruses and other unwanted attachments to online material are becoming increasingly prevalent. It is all too easy these days to become an unknowing or unwilling participant in illegal online activity. If you were the unfortunate recipient of inappropriate spam or pop-ups or simply typed in the wrong web address by accident, you may be able to prove your innocence.
- False accusation — If you have been framed or someone has maliciously leveled charges against you, you may be able to prove that you have been wrongfully accused.
- Age — Are the people depicted in the materials at least 18 years old? If no minors are depicted in the sexual content, you are not guilty of a child pornography crime. However, unknown age is not a viable defense. For example, if you did not know the age of the individuals depicted in the material or assumed that they were over 18, but they are actually under 18 years old, you are still guilty of possession of child pornography.
- The content isn’t applicable — Films that are rated by the Motion Picture Association of America are not considered child pornography. This defense is applicable to you if the content in question is rated by the MPAA or otherwise fails to fit the definition of child pornography.
- Illegal search and seizure — If the materials being used as evidence against you were obtained unlawfully they may not be permissible in court.
- Entrapment — Did an undercover officer or other law enforcement encourage you to talk about or buy child pornography when you would not have otherwise? You cannot be held liable for a crime that you were unlawfully tricked into committing.
- Psychological addiction — If you have a psychological addiction to certain pornographic materials, the judge may choose to have a medical professional examine your psychological status. This could potentially result in counseling in lieu of a prison sentence.
The U.S. Federal Government aggressively investigates and prosecutes suspected cases of child pornography. As a knowledgeable defense attorney with over 30 years of case experience, I have what it takes to build an equally aggressive and compelling defense strategy for my client.
If you are facing child pornography charges, it is important that you speak to a qualified defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact my firm today to set up a consultation and let me get to work fighting for your rights and defending your freedom.