Penalties For Possession of Child Pornography
Starting with just simple possession, a first offense is a class 6 felony, which is punishable up to five years in prison or you could also receive a jail sentence of up to twelve months and/or a 2,500-dollar fine. There is also what is called a second or subsequent conviction for violation of the child pornography statute. This is a a class 5 felony, which carries a one to 10 year sentence.
What is different with child pornography statutes versus DUI is that there is no requirement that there be a time frame or a time period between the first offense and the second or subsequent offenses.
So, for instance, for a DUI felony, there must be two separate prior DUI convictions and then the third one would be separate which makes common sense. For possession of child pornography, the police can seize the computer and there could be a thousand images and they’ll charge one image as the first offense and then all the other images can be charged as second or subsequent offenses.
Long-Term Consequences For Possession of a Child Pornography Conviction
A child pornography conviction would require the person to register as a sex offender on the state registry for life. Even though it is not a hands-on offense or a violent offense, this conviction is going to put the world on notice that this person is “a sex offender.” That is going to greatly inhibit a person’s ability to get employment and housing. It will have a very real and stark impact on a person’s life and their family’s lives.
Child Pornography is Subject to Lawful Search and Seizure
Because child pornography is considered contraband, it is illegal material so having possession of it is an illegal act. Therefore, if the police have probable cause that a person is in possession of it either in their home, on their phone, or on a computer, they can get a search warrant to seize the material based on probable cause. The material itself is used as evidence against the person who is found to be in possession of it. The hardware associated with it, like the computer or the phone, can be legally forfeited by the Commonwealth or the government.
Law Enforcement Agencies that Investigate Child Pornography in Virginia
The local police departments, but also other federal agencies including the FBI, Homeland Security along with immigration and also the Virginia State Police are involved. So, you might have a case in which there is one offender, but there are multiple jurisdictions that have been involved in the investigation of the case.