One of the toughest charges to defend
comes from an arrest for the possession of child pornography
. Most of those arrested are first time offenders, have a family, and a good paying job. Often the worst part of the arrest is seeing your picture in the local newspaper as someone “charged” or “accused” of possessing child porn
. At this point your freedom, your family relationship, and your job are in jeopardy.The first thing one should remember is to assert your right to remain silent.
Most cases occur when the police appear at your door with a search warrant. This is not the place to contest the warrant. You must cooperate in allowing the police to enter and search the premises. This does not mean that you should answer any questions. Ask to speak with an attorney
. Too often the person, scared, not only admits to ownership of the computer, but admits to knowing about the pictures. At this point your case becomes a “sentencing” case. Remain silent.
If you are arrested either at your home or after the police have examined your computer at the station immediately contact an attorney. Again, say nothing.There are a number of defenses
that a person has at this point.First, the attorney
will examine and contest the legality of the search. Whether dealing with drugs, guns, or child porn
, a warrant that lacks probable cause to search means that no evidence is allowed at trial and the charge will be dismissed.Even if the search is legal that is not necessarily the end of the case. The District Attorney must prove that you “possessed” the image and/or intentionally viewed child pornography
which generally means a minor engaged in a prohibited sexual act
. (The picture of your 3 year old nephew in the bathtub is not illegal). Even if you deleting the photo may not be enough since the picture, which you knew about, is often saved in the computer file.
Another possible defense is that the picture needs to be that of an actual child. Virtual images of children or pictures of adults “computerized” to look like children are not illegal.It is important to keep in mind that the defense of these types of cases can be expensive. Not only must you pay your attorney but your lawyermay also need to consult or hire to testify an expert in these types of cases. The cost for the expert could reach $5000.00 or more.
Finally you must remember that a jury will not be sympathetic to this type of crime. This is known as the “ick” factor and the lawyer needs to consider this.
If your attorney believes that your stand a good chance of a conviction he will probably begin to initiate a plea bargain (of course with your permission). Each picture is a “count” and could land you in jail for a number of years. Before your attorney reaches this decision he/she will have determined that the above defenses may not be successful.
A conviction may also trigger Megan’s law which will mean registration as a sex offender for a number of years or life. And, the law on registration may change and you will be affected, even if convicted prior to the change of the law.
And again, this cannot be stated too often, if you are charged or you believe you will be charged do not admit anything, ask for the right to consult an attorney, and then contact an attorney.
The information presented is not legal advice, and your use of it does not create an attorney-client relationship. No recipient should act on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal advice from counsel. Lawrence R. Dworkin, Esq. expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken based on any content of this site. Because every case is different, any prior results described on this web site do not guarantee or suggest a similar outcome.