Defending Child Pornography Charges


Defending Child Pornography Charges

At the law Offices of Murphy & Price, we regularly defend child pornography cases at both the State and Federal level. It is imperative that if you are investigated or charged with a child pornography related crime that you seek competent, aggressive counsel immediately. Child pornography charges often have short term and long term consequences.  Sometimes, people who are charged with these crimes are arrested and held without bail pending their trial. Long term consequences can include mandatory sex offender registration and the potential of significant jail time.

The maximum penalties for Child Pornography charges depend on whether you are charged in State or Federal Court. In Maryland State Court, possession of child pornography is classified as a misdemeanor. If found guilty, defendants are subject to a maximum of 5 years in State Prison (Maryland Division of Corrections). The charge of Distribution of Child Pornography in State Court carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. At the federal level, Distribution of Child Pornography carries a 5 year minimum mandatory sentence with a maximum penalty of 20 years in Federal prison. can be sentenced up to 10 years in prison or up to 20 years in prison if the minor depicted in the image is under the age of twelve.

There are several ways to defend Child Pornography charges that can result in the reduction or dismissal of charges in your case. These include suppression of evidence that is the fruit of an unlawful search. The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution prevents unlawful searches and seizures, which means investigators must follow certain procedures, including proper warrants. If the procedure was not followed prior to the search of a device, the evidence may be suppressed.

Another defense that frequently is used is the defense of entrapment. One way this happens in child pornography cases is when police coerce you to download or purchase child pornography when you otherwise would not have done so  This happens often in the context of undercover sting operations, usually in chat rooms. Another defense to child pornography charges are a lack of knowledge. Sometimes, a person may unknowingly download child pornography due to mislabeled links and websites. Alternatively a person may believe they are receiving adult pornograhy online, unaware that pornography involves minors.

Expert witnesses are often used for an effective defense against child pornography charges. Digital forensics experts are often used to examine the devices which may be used against you in evidence. These experts can gather helpful information, such as whether or not the images were downloaded after they were received, how long they have been on the device, evidence of any tampering with the devices, and when the files were last accessed. On the other hand, a forensic psychiatrist may also be able to evaluate the defendant and provide helpful information about the defendant as well. Our attorneys work closely with many experts in the field that could be helpful in preparing a strong defense.

“Sexting” Among Teenagers

Recently, our firm has seen a rise in the number of child pornography charges among teenagers. In Maryland State Court, a minor is considered anyone under the age of 16 years old. In a situation where two teenagers are involved in “sexting” each other, child pornography charges could arise.”Sexting” is defined as exchanginhg sexually explicit messages or images via text messages or social media platforms-. For example, if a 15 year old girl sends a sexually explicit image of herself to a 17 year old boy, she could face distribution of child pornograhy charges and the young man could face possession charges.  How did we get here you may ask?

Most of the time, we see charging decisions made charging the recipient as an adult, especially if it is a young man, of the images with possession of child porn. These charges against young people in particular have extraordinary consequences, from facing jail time to limiting their future endeavors in college or the workforce.  In a recent case, one of our attorneys was able to get a possession of child pornography charge reduced to an obsece matter charge, which carries only a 1 year maximum and does not require sex offense registration.