The biggest mistake people make when they believe they are innocent of the criminal charges they are facing is failing to defend themselves. They have faith that the truth will come out, and the charges will be dropped, or that they will be found not guilty at trial. Some people even think that hiring a lawyer and defending themselves makes them look guilty. The reality is that serious charges need to be taken seriously, even if you think you have been unjustly accused. A good example of a charge that should never be ignored is federal child pornography. You might think the feds couldn’t possibly have the evidence to convict you, but not building a defense could be a fatal mistake.
What Is the Federal Law Regarding Child Pornography?
It is illegal to possess, distribute, or receive sexually explicit visual content depicting children under the age of 18. Visual depictions include photographs, video, and digital images, including undeveloped film and electronically stored material, even if it has never been viewed. Computer-generated images that appear to depict an actual, identifiable minor can also be considered child pornography. An image does not have to depict a child engaging in sexual activity to be considered sexually explicit. If the subject of the image is naked and posed in a sexually suggestive manner, it could be considered pornography. Regardless of the age of consent in any given state, a minor is considered to be anyone under the age of 18 under federal law.
Possession includes physical possession of photographs and other print material, as well as videos in any format. Downloaded images on a computer or cell phone—even if those images have been deleted—or evidence that you searched for and viewed child pornography on a website are also considered forms of possession. If the internet was used to obtain or view child pornography, the case will usually fall under federal jurisdiction.
How You Could Be Charged With Possession of Child Pornography
While possession of child pornography used to be more clear cut—either you had physical pictures of children in your possession, or you didn’t—today’s world of computers and smartphones has changed everything. Now, a deleted file or suspicious search history is enough to convict someone of possession of child pornography. Some not uncommon scenarios we have seen in the state of Florida include:
- A 17-year-old texts explicit photos of herself to her 18-year-old boyfriend.
- An explicit image is shared with multiple people without their consent.
- Someone accidentally visits a child pornography website.
- A suspicious account emails or texts explicit photos of children to random people.
- Someone subscribes to a pornography website without realizing it includes children.
- A parent has pictures on their computer or cell phone of their own children in the bathtub.
If federal investigators have reason to search your computer or cell phone, anything they find could incriminate you. If you are convicted of possession of child pornography, you could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. If you are convicted of producing or distributing child pornography, you will face even harsher penalties.
Defenses to Federal Pornography Charges
If you are being investigated for child pornography, it is important that you call a defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can protect your right to due process and may be able to prevent charges from being filed in the first place. If you are charged, your attorney will investigate and consider the following arguments:
- The images are not sexually explicit.
- The people depicted are not under the age of 18.
- The evidence was obtained through an illegal search.
- You were unaware the images were in your possession.
- Your computer or IP address was not the source of sexually explicit material.
- Your computer was maliciously accessed to distribute illegal pornography without your knowledge.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney will build an appropriate defense.
Don’t Risk Your Future by Not Defending Yourself
At Izquierdo Law Firm, we take your Constitutional rights very seriously. A conviction on child pornography charges will have serious consequences for your future. Don’t trust just anyone to defend you.
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