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Child Pornography Crime Defense
The crimes of possession of child pornography and its dissemination or distribution are aggressively pursued by both federal and state law enforcement officers and harshly punished by federal and local courts. This type of conviction can lead to years of imprisonment and lifelong consequences, such as mandatory sex offender registration. A conviction of this type can affect your employment, your lifestyle, and your freedom.
A search of recent news headlines highlights the serious nature of these crimes. A thirty one year old man from Massachusetts was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment after pleading guilty in federal court to five counts of exploitation of a child, distribution, transportation, and possession of child pornography. He was additionally sentenced to 10 years probation upon his eventual release.
In another case, a Massachusetts lawyer, Boy Scout volunteer, and part-time school teacher, was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment pursuant to a guilty plea to four counts of possession of pornographic material depicting minors and enticing a minor to engage in unlawful sexual conduct. The convictions stemmed from the FBI’s finding of 600 sexually explicit videos on his home computer, as well as his explicit emails and Skype conversations with several minor children
Finally, in a bizarre case capturing national headlines, a Boston area man was sentenced to over 26 years imprisonment followed by a lifetime of supervised release pursuant to his plea of guilty to distribution and possession of child pornography, as well as solicitation to commit a crime of violence. This man allegedly planned to kidnap, rape, and eat children, and authorities found a dungeon like basement in his home that allegedly was set up for this purpose. Investigators found tens of thousands of computer images, videos, and over 4,500 exchanges of this material on his computer.Possession and Dissemination of Child Pornography 101
These are complex crimes that require specialized knowledge and experience to defend against. These crimes are defined in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 29B and C. Below is a short summary of these two crimes:
Possession—it is a crime to knowingly possess a photograph, film, video, book, visual reproduction, or essentially any image of a child when you know or reasonably should know the child is under the age of 18, and the child is engaged in a sexual act, such as sexual intercourse, masturbation, or other sort of erotic activity.
A first time offender faces imprisonment of up to five years in state prison and fines of up to $10,000. Subsequent offenses increase your possible prison term, with third time offenders facing a mandatory minimum of ten years imprisonment and up to a $30,000 fine.
Dissemination—the defendant intentionally, and with lascivious intent, disseminated sexually explicit material involving children under 18, with knowledge of the contents of the material or with sufficient facts in his/her possession to be considered to have knowledge of the contents of the material.
The crime of dissemination is punishable by a mandatory minimum of ten years imprisonment, and a maximum of twenty years. The defendant can be fined up to $50,000 or three times the monetary value derived from the dissemination.Child Pornography in the Digital Age
Aside from severe punishments and aggressive investigation, the cases described above have another thing in common--- they all involve possession or distribution using technology. Specifically, in each of these three cases, and in most other cases today, the defendants were found in possession of pornographic material depicting minors on their computers, and distributed it via the Internet. The advent of the Internet has created a new breed of sex offender and a new class of sex offense crimes. With the Internet, individuals can easily and quickly download or distribute this type of material through email, file sharing, Skype, instant messenger, message boards, blogs, or any number of social media websites.Possible Defenses If You Have Been Charged
This type of charge can be complex and are generally aggressively prosecuted by either state or federal law enforcement officers and prosecutors. Here are two possible defenses you could raise when faced with a charge of possession or distribution of sexually explicit material depicting minors, depending upon the facts of your case:
- Suppression of the evidence—today, the most common evidence against an individual charged with possessing or distributing will be digital. Generally local law enforcement or federal investigators like the FBI will seize your computer and obtain evidence of your involvement in this manner. They may also find evidence of your activities via the Internet, such as on chat rooms or message boards. The seizure of this digital evidence raises a number of Fourth Amendment issues, and one of the most common defenses raised will be a motion to suppress the evidence. Depending on the facts of your case, this motion will urge that the court must suppress the illegally seized evidence as the seizure was unreasonable and violated your Fourth Amendment rights. An experienced criminal defense attorney can examine the facts of your case and determine if you might have a viable claim for suppression of evidence.
- Lack of knowledge—these crimes both have a knowledge requirement. In order to convict you of these charges, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly possessed or knowingly distributed the pornographic material. With today’s advanced technology and the existence of things like viruses, cookies, and hidden files, sometimes an individual’s computer can hold this material without the user ever knowing. Viruses can cause your computer to decimate material as well without your knowledge. An experienced criminal attorney can investigate the facts of your case and determine whether you might be able to raise the defense of a lack of knowledge.
A charge of this type of crime is a very serious matter with potential lifelong consequences. The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman understands the seriousness of the charges you face and has vast experience defending against all manner of them. Stephen Neyman is an aggressive, tough attorney who will fight tirelessly on your behalf to obtain the best legal outcome possible. Call The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman today at (617) 263-6800 to start us mounting your successful defense.
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