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Last Updated on: 24th December 2023, 06:25 am
Criminal Lawyer Advice on Child Pornography Charges
Facing allegations related to child pornography can be an incredibly difficult and scary situation. The potential legal consequences are severe, and the social stigma surrounding such charges makes them intimidating to confront. However, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer can make all the difference in navigating this complex area of law. Here is some advice on potential sentencing and defense strategies when dealing with child pornography charges.
Understanding Child Pornography Sentencing Guidelines
Child pornography laws take a hardline stance, with mandatory minimum prison sentences that remove judicial discretion in many cases. The number of images, the nature of the content, and intent behind the crime can all impact sentencing.
Sentencing Based on Number of Images
- Possessing less than 100 images can lead to probation or less than 5 years in prison for a first offense
- Possessing 100-1000 images jumps to a likely 5-10 year sentence
- Possessing over 1000 images, or distributing child pornography, carries mandatory minimums of 5-15 years in federal cases
The volume of images factors heavily into sentencing, though other circumstances still apply.
Factors Impacting Child Pornography Sentencing
Beyond just the number of images, other factors courts consider include:
- The graphic nature of the images and videos possessed
- Evidence of active trading/distribution rather than just possession
- Any hands-on offense against a minor
- Criminal history of the defendant
- Background, character, and likelihood of rehabilitation
These factors help determine whether the mandatory minimums apply, or if exceptions can reduce the sentence.
Enhancements for Aggravating Factors
Several aggravating factors can enhance child pornography sentences above the mandatory minimums:
- Images depicting sadistic/violent conduct lead to sentencing enhancements
- The age of the children involved – images of very young children receive harsher sentences
- Defendants with any prior related criminal history face sentencing enhancements
These enhancements can add years or decades onto the mandatory minimum sentences.
Building a Strong Defense Against Allegations
While child pornography sentencing can seem overly harsh, experienced criminal defense lawyers can build strong cases to get charges reduced or dismissed. Here are some effective legal defenses:
Illegal Search and Seizure
- Law enforcement must demonstrate probable cause and obtain legal warrants before seizing property and performing searches.
- Evidence seized illegally gets thrown out – destroying the prosecution’s case.
Lack of Criminal Intent
- Simply possessing something illegal does not imply criminal intent.
- Downloading files without knowing the contents, or accidentally accessing illegal material provides strong defenses.
- Simply sharing files through peer-to-peer networks may not imply intent.
- Without evidence of actively trafficking illegal material for profit or distribution, sentences can get reduced.
Facing child pornography charges puts defendants in a difficult legal situation given strict sentencing guidelines. However, experienced criminal defense lawyers can analyze the full context and build strong cases to get charges dismissed or reduced. Illegal searches, lack of criminal intent, and unlawful distribution arguments provide grounds for defense. With the proper legal advice and guidance, even mandatory minimum sentences can sometimes get avoided in child pornography cases. The stigma surrounding such allegations makes a robust defense vital.