Reproduction or Distribution of Child Pornography in Virginia
Distribution of child pornography means giving it to another, and not necessarily for monetary gain. Typically when people think of child pornography charges, they are thinking of possession, meaning you are in physical possession of it.
Distributing, on the other hand, means you’re giving it to other people either in exchange for money (or not). Money does not necessarily have to be an element of it, and either way these charges carry severe consequences and should contact a Virginia child pornography lawyer.
What Kind of Internet Activity is Considered Suspect
One of the most common internet activities that you see in child pornography distribution cases is the sharing of files through peer-to-peer network sharing software. There is actually recent Virginia case law that says you do not even have to have an understanding of how the software works to be charged.
If you are simply a member of that software sharing network and you have images on your computer that are accessible to other people you can be charged, even though you might not have had any clue that somebody else is searching and downloading images from your computer.
In this instance, your able to be charged for distribution just by virtue of being a part of that sharing network. You are basically making yourself vulnerable because you are part of the network and so because you have contraband on your computer and somebody is grabbing it from your files, you can be charged for distribution.
What Are The Penalties For Reproduction and Distribution
The penalties for reproduction and distribution depend on the child’s age. If the child is younger than 15, then the punishment will be anywhere from 5 to 30 years in jail. However, if the accused also happens to be more than seven years older than the child in the pornography then five years of that sentence is going to be mandatory.
A second or subsequent offense of distribution or production of child pornography is punishable by 15 to 40 years of which 15 years is the mandatory minimum. In this case, it also makes a difference if the child is between 15 and 18. Between 15 and less than 18, then it is one to 20 years. But again, if the offender is seven years older than the child in the image, then it’s three to 30 years and then there’s a three year mandatory minimum.
How Are These Charges Different From Possession
Reproduction and distribution offenses are treated differently because they are viewed as more culpable behavior because it is not just the end-user conduct, it is the distributor. It is sort of similar to drug cases. A person that possesses the drug is not inherently more criminally culpable than the person who distributes it because distributors are seen as a driving force behind the market for the contraband material. This means that penalties are a lot greater. People that are in possession of child pornography are going to be treated more leniently than the people that are producing and distributing.
Are These Cases Investigated in The Same Way
On some levels reproduction/distribution cases are investigated the same way as possession cases, but if law enforcement suspects an individual is involved in a ring or conspiracy that is a lot bigger than just the end user, then that investigation will probably be more long term. They will probably take more time to figure out how far the conspiracy goes and how big it is. The investigation might be more in-depth and involve a lot more people because there’s more than just evidence of one person possessing the illegal material.
Constitutional Issues in Child Pornography Distribution Cases
The Fourth Amendment, search and seizure, is by far the biggest constitutional issue that comes up in these cases. Often this issue concerns whether or not there was a search warrant to search the home, or the vehicle, or the phone. If there was, then was the content of the search warrant sufficient to make probable cause and whether or not there were any errors in the warrant or how the warrant was executed.
There are also Fifth Amendment issues, namely, whether or not the statement obtained from the accused was properly obtained.