Child Pornography is generally defined as the visual depiction by film, picture, computer image or other means of an identifiable minor engaged in sexually explicit or lewd conduct. This includes non-pornographic images that were digitally altered as well as images of children who were under the age of 18 at the time the image was created.
Child pornography laws prohibit producing, distributing, selling or merely possessing such images. With the advent of the Internet and digital cameras, child pornography convictions have skyrocketed. When the Internet is involved, child pornography can be charged as a federal offense which can result in federal prosecution and severe sentencing guidelines.
Child pornography charges can be particularly devastating because of the serious social stigma of child sex offenders. With computers, it is easy to unknowingly commit this crime. For example, if you view an image on a web site of someone you thought was an adult but was under 18, you can be charged with this crime. Even if another person used your computer to view such images or if an unsolicited email was sent to you containing such images, copies of these images may unknowingly be on your hard drive.
While possession of pornographic images may seem like a minor offense, possession of child pornography is not. This crime is to be taken seriously and defended aggressively. There is currently a nationwide witch hunt for sexual predators led by sting operations, overzealous prosecutors, politicians and the media. Employers, other computers and even computer repair shops often have the ability and right to view files on your computer, and the feds are eager to aggressively prosecute these offenses.
When a child pornography charge involves images created, manipulated or stored on a computer, your defense team must have considerable computer expertise and experience in the defense of cybercrimes as well as sex crimes. It is also important to have a federal attorney on your team in the event that the FBI chooses to pursue charges against you.
An obvious strategy is to deny that you created or knowingly possessed pornographic images. As with all pornography charges, there is not always a clear definition of what types of images are considered to be "pornographic." This subjectivity, along with the means by which evidence was collected against you, may form important parts of your defense strategy.
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