Virginia Federal Child Pornography Attorney
Today, child pornography now applies to any sort of media which gives the clear impression that the person depicted is under 18 years of age and is engaging in any sort of sexually explicit activity. This can include digital images, photographs, drawings, sculptures, motion picture films, and videos.
Anyone who knowingly possesses child pornography in Virginia can be found guilty of a felony crime. Those accused of reproducing, selling or distributing such materials in any way face penalties ranging from five to 30 years in a state prison. Federal child pornography charges in Virginia carry punishments that are even more severe.
Thus, if you have been charged or are being investigated regarding a child pornography offense, please contact a Virginia federal child pornography lawyer today.
Potential Child Pornography Defenses
There are many reasons why the blameless are caught when law officials arbitrarily cast wide nets in the search for real child pornography offenders:
- Perhaps defendants did not realize they were engaging in distribution by the simple act of “file sharing,” or by trading images with other people on the internet.
- Maybe they did not know that the actors were underage.
- Perhaps someone else with access to the accused’s computer or digital device, such as smart phones, was responsible for the images.
- And in many cases, illegal files have been planted without the knowledge of the defendant; possibly as part of a software program or application the suspect innocently or accidentally downloaded.
Challenges to Federal Child Pornography Allegations
The first thing prosecutors must prove is that the people in the images are in fact minors. Most of the time, this burden of proof can be met purely on the appearance of the individuals or the environments depicted in the material. Stronger evidence might include a witness who can identify the individual(s) depicted as underage.
The second element to the government’s burden of proof is establishing that the images actually meet the legal definition of pornography. Innocent pictures of nude children do not necessarily constitute pornography.
The final link in the chain of proof is completed when prosecutors clearly prove that the images were received, possessed, or distributed by the defendant. Circumstantial proof is not enough. In the eyes of the law, prosecutors must leave no doubt that the suspect was a willing, active possessor of child pornography.
This is done by clearly illustrating that only the defendant knowingly possessed (or distributed) the images. Some child pornography cases fall apart when a skilled federal criminal lawyer successfully attacks that final link.
Child Pornography Charge Categories
Child pornography charges typically fall into three general categories:
The differences between these categories are profound, and the penalties become more severe the further down the list you go. Therefore, when the prosecution’s sequential burden of proof is more difficult, your federal criminal attorney may be able to leverage aggressive plea-bargaining tactics that could reduce the charges to simple possession or, in some cases, see the charges dropped.
Penalties for Child Pornography Offenses
Child pornography cases are often referred to federal prosecutors in cases involving a large number of images and when files are shared across state lines. Sentencing for certain federal child pornography offenses is quite severe. For example:
- A first time offender convicted of transporting child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce under 18 U.S.C. Section 2252, faces fines and a statutory minimum of five years to 20 years maximum in prison.
- A first time conviction for producing child pornography brings a statutory minimum of 15 years to 30 years maximum in prison. See 18 U.S.C. Section 2251.
- If offenders have prior convictions, or if the child pornography offense occurred in aggravated situations, may result in a life sentence.
Penalties for state child pornography offenses in the Commonwealth of Virginia are equally severe, and can be viewed on the following website.
If you have been accused of intentionally possession, receiving, or distributing child pornography, you will need an experienced Virginia federal child pornography lawyer who knows how to deal with federal prosecutors to aggressively defend your case or derail erroneous allegations.
Thomas Soldan and Karin Riley Porter understand the uniqueness of every case and strongly urge anyone who is facing such charges to call for a free, initial consultation.
During that consultation, our federal criminal lawyers can help you analyze the charges you are facing, explain all of your options, and suggest the best possible defense given the facts of your case. Call the firm today.