The state and federal laws that make it a crime to possess, make, or give child pornography are some of the strictest and most severe laws on the books. If you've been charged with producing child pornography, distributing child pornography, or even simply possessing child pornography, you need a defense attorney who is sensitive to your situation but tough and bold in the courtroom. At Robinson Law, PLLC, we can help. Our committed Fairfax criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience aggressively defending clients facing charges related to the possession, distribution and creation of child pornography.What Does Virginia Law Say About Child Pornography?
Virginia Code Section 18.2-374.1:1 makes it a crime to have child pornography, to share it with others, or to make it. First offenses have no mandatory minimum punishments in state court, but sharing child pornography files more than once can land a person in prison for at least five years for each time it’s shared.
In federal court, the laws are spread across several sections of the law, but the main section is 18 United States Code Section 2252. The punishments for child pornography crimes are much harsher in federal court; each charge of simply possessing an item of child pornography is a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. Also, the federal government has much more resources to prosecute a person for possessing or distributing child pornography, so cases in federal court require much more time and effort to defend against. When choosing an attorney for this kind of case, you should make sure that she is knowledgeable about how the police build these cases against people and all of the sophisticated technology that is involved.How Do the Police Build Cases Involving Possessing or Distributing Child Pornography?
Many cases of possessing child pornography cases involve online bit torrent file-sharing programs, such as Ares, Limewire, or BitTorrent itself. These programs allow a person to download a file, such as child pornography, in bits and pieces from several different people. Once a user downloads the child pornography file, it goes into a “shared” folder, which can then be downloaded in bits by other people.
Most commonly, the police will try to download known child pornography files on the torrent programs in order to see which other users have them in their “shared” folder. Then the police get search warrants for the addresses where the user is located, and they take computers and ask questions to the people that live there. As with any other type of investigation, do not talk to the police without your lawyer present!
You have the right to remain silent, even if the police don't read you your rights before they start asking questions. This is especially important if you are innocent! The police will try to find out who owns which computers, and telling the police that you use a certain computer can be used to send you to jail, even if your computer was hacked or if many other people had access to your computer. It is important that you call a Fairfax criminal defense attorney right away if the police come to your house or if they call you and want to talk to you about computers and internet users in your house.
If you are being investigated for possessing or distributing child pornography, you also need to make sure that you have a lawyer who is familiar with the investigative techniques that the police use and knowledgeable about the strengths and weaknesses of file-sharing technology used by the public and police. You should make sure your attorney is familiar with terms like IP addresses, MD5 hash values, unallocated space, NCMEC, VPN, Tor, and forensic computer analysis.Why Does Somebody Have Dozens of Charges, When He Only Had One Computer?
Each image or video file of child pornography that a person has can be a separate charge. Practically speaking, the prosecutor can't bring a charge for each and every file that a user has on his computer, so they usually choose the most graphic and outrageous pictures and videos to show in court, even if those files were never opened or were deleted. The prosecutor can also charge a user with possessing child pornography as a “second offense,” even if the person has a completely clean criminal record and only downloaded files on one occasion. The prosecutor stacks the deck against a defendant in this way, so it is very important to have an attorney who is familiar with these charges and who can negotiate and advocate for you, both in and out of the courtroom.I Never Sent or Transferred Any Files, Why Am I Charged With Distribution Of Child Pornography?
Merely having child pornography files in a “shared” folder, where other users can access or download bits from them, can be enough to find a person guilty of distributing child pornography. A user does not need to actually want or intend to share the files or even know that other users are downloading these bits in order to be found guilty of “distributing” child pornography. Many filesharing programs automatically set up these “shared” folders on a user's computer without the user even knowing it, which can lead to some of the most severe charges. If you're charged with distributing child pornography, you need to hire a lawyer who is familiar with the file-sharing technology so she can effectively fight for you in court.
The United States Supreme Court said that every time a person looks at a picture of child pornography, it is like the child in the picture is being victimized again. Also, many police, prosecutors, and judges have a false belief that people who view or possess child pornography are one step away from abusing, molesting, or victimizing children in real life. However, studies show that a person who possesses child pornography has a very low risk of harming children in real life. Possessing child pornography is not a “stepping stone” or “gateway drug” to sexual abuse of children in real life. Two-thirds of persons convicted of possessing child pornography had never had any type of illegal contact with children. And according to the United States Sentencing Commission, less than ten percent of persons who were convicted of possessing child pornography commit new sexual offenses after conviction.
If you've been charged with possessing child pornography, you need a lawyer who understands the science and evidence about the lack of future danger of those who have possessed child pornography so that your lawyer can effectively argue for you and to keep any punishment as light as possible.Are You Charged with Possession of Child Pornography?
If you are charged with possession, distribution or manufacturing of child pornography, it is imperative that you reach out to Robinson Law, PLLC, as soon as possible. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience defending the rights and freedoms of individuals facing serious sex offenses, including child pornography crimes. From the moment you bring us onto your case, we will begin developing a compelling defense to ensure your arrest has as little impact on your future as possible. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call (703) 844-3746. You can also connect with us through our online form.