California Child Pornography Laws – Penal Code 311
One of the main things determining how a defendant is treated in a child pornography case in Los Angeles is the person's role in the crime. Are they simply a person who viewed child pornography on the internet out of curiosity, or are they involved in the distribution of child pornography, or worse, are they part of actually making and or producing the child pornography.
Someone directly involved with exploiting children will be viewed very harshly by the prosecutors and judges. On the other hand, most of the cases that I have seen since the internet came into existence and child pornography began to be prosecuted involve people downloading images on their computers and viewing them for their sexual gratification.
As far as how the judge and prosecutor treat those who possess child pornography, they consider several essential factors. First, the amount of images is crucial in determining how harsh they will be with a particular criminal defendant.
If there are only a few images, they will likely be much easier to deal with than if there are thousands of photos (in video or photograph form).
They will also look at the nature of child pornography. In other words, what is happening to the child in the pictures or videos? The worse the exploitation or abuse, the harsher sentencing stance they will take. The last thing they will look at in my experience is the criminal sophistication level of the person they are dealing with.
Does the person have a criminal record? What precisely are they doing with child pornography? Are they sharing it with others? Are they selling it?
Or are they simply viewing it? If a particular defendant has other sex-related offenses, the punishment will be reflected in kind. Really what the prosecutors are looking to do is protect the public and children in specific and punish the person for what they did.
In California, mere possession of child pornography suffices as enough evidence to charge a person with a sex crime. A conviction for a sex crime such as child pornography possession can result in imprisonment, fines, and mandatory sex offender registration.
As your sex crime defense lawyer, our duty is to provide you with excellent representation and do whatever we can to get your charges dismissed due to insufficient or illegally obtained evidence or get them reduced.
No matter your circumstances, the best defense is to find a seasoned, savvy criminal defense attorney that has handled many pre-filing cases in the courthouse your case is pending. If they have been down the road you are about to travel and had success, they will put you in the best possible position to be treated fairly and get the result you deserve!
Is Child Porn Possession a Common Sex Crime?
Many of my clients are shocked to learn that child pornography is one of the most common sex crimes charged in Los Angeles at both the state and federal levels.
Even though this crime has not been around that long compared to drug crimes and theft crimes, it has been prosecuted more and more as the exploitation of children has skyrocketed. The legislature has put pressure on law enforcement to tackle this seemingly impossible issue.
The federal government has so many cases pending that it takes them a minimum of a year to go through someone's computer that they seized as part of a federal investigation.
Further, because the problem is so rampant, the state authorities do not have the workforce or time to deal with these cases and have had to rely more and more on the feds to deal with these mostly internet sex crimes.
People do not realize the ramifications of this seemingly simple act because it is so easy to go on the internet and get access to illegal images. This is further exacerbated by the fact that viruses attach to regular pornography downloaded on people's computers without their knowledge.
Law enforcement is well aware of this issue. It will typically only prosecute someone for possession of child pornography that indeed has sought it out, viewed it, and has many images.
What If You Are Charged with Selling Child Pornography?
Anything having to do with child pornography in California will bring down the wrath of the government. As you might guess, this type of sex offense is highly politically charged, and the legislature and law enforcement agencies have put the eradication of child pornography at the top of their list.
In my opinion, the first step to getting a handle on the sale of child porn investigation, and prosecution is education. It would help if you researched how these cases are handled in the criminal courts, the laws that govern their prosecution, and what you can do to help yourself in a sometimes unforgiving criminal justice system.
The best, fastest, and safest place to obtain information and education on this topic is through a sex crime defense attorney who has defended these cases at the state and federal levels.
When I meet with clients, it is my goal to both educate them on the topic related to a defense of child pornography-related cases and to delve into the facts of their particular cases. It is crucial that when we are done with the meeting, everyone involved agrees upon a plan for success.
I want to make sure that the client and all interested parties know what we are trying to achieve with the factual situation we find ourselves in and what we will do to reach the end goals that we have agreed upon. Once the client knows what the plan is related to their case, I find that a sense of control and peace of mind is restored to their life.
Once you have educated yourself on the criminal process related to your case and have some clearly defined goals for the outcome of your case, the next step is to execute whatever plan we have decided is best for you and your situation.
This could mean fighting your case and putting the pieces together to give the best chance of convincing a jury that you are not guilty of the crimes you are charged with. If, on the other hand, we have determined that the best strategy is to negotiate, then you should be collecting character letters and doing whatever else we decide makes sense in your case.
In some circumstances, it will be necessary for you to be evaluated by a psychologist who is familiar with authoring reports to convince prosecutors and judges that you are not someone who will ever engage in this type of behavior again and that society is not in danger if you are permitted to remain in the community.
These types of charges are punished based upon several different factors. The number of images that are possessed and sold is one of the chief considerations in determining whether the case will be prosecuted at the state or federal level.
The authorities will also look at what type of images are being sold. This means assessing the victims' ages, the conduct they are engaging in, and the level of abuse that is taking place in the images.
Finally, the authorities will look at precisely what your role was/is in the sale of child pornography. The more of a position you played, the harsher the charges and punishment against you. In assessing your role, they will also look at your criminal record, your job, and a host of other facts that will determine the level of danger that you present to the community at large.
The government has all sorts of technology available to it to view what people they suspect of the sale of child pornography have on their computers, phones, and other devices. It typically takes them a long time to go over a person's computer because of the many computers they have seized and the time required to do a thorough scan.
There are a limited number of experts available to the government to do the hard work and have the knowledge base to go through a computer or other device. Since some of the material on them is encrypted and deleted, it is a process that only the most skilled experts can perform.
How Can You Avoid Jail Time for Possessing Child Porn?
There are several crucial factors that the prosecutor and judge will weigh in deciding whether a person charged with the possession of child pornography will serve a jail/prison sentence or not.
First, they will look at how many images you possessed and the type of images that may have been seized through a search warrant. Then they will look to see if the person has a prior criminal record associated with sexually deviant behavior and evaluate a report written by a specially trained doctor to assess whether a person will commit this type of crime again or worse.
And they will look at the person's actions in the current case and evaluate how dangerous that person is to the victim and society. In my experience, the judge and prosecutor are going to assess whether, if they give you a break, you will be a repeat offender, and then they will be called into question for not giving you a lengthy jail sentence.
If a doctor and your attorney can convince them that you are a low risk to re-offend and that if they give you a break, it will not come back to haunt them, then there is a much more likely chance that you will be punished with something other than jail.
Hence, choose your attorney carefully to have the best chance of being treated fairly. You likely will not get another chance once the judge and prosecutor have decided your fate.
Possession and distribution of child pornography are illegal in the state of California. Our sex crime lawyers know and understand child pornography laws that enable us to represent you and defend your case effectively.
Child pornography charges may result in a year in county jail or up to three years in state prison, excessive fines, and mandatory sex offender registration. Our lawyers are here to help prevent these penalties by using our legal strategies and skill. There may be several defenses we can assert on your behalf. Contact us so we can start discussing all your available options.
Can Deleted Child Pornography Downloads Be Recovered?
When it comes to child pornography, if the federal or state government finds out that somebody is involved and believes they have it on their computer, they will get a search warrant to get into their home to grab all their devices, including their laptop iPad, and phone. Then they will send those devices to a forensic expert to check them out.
I've had a lot of these cases over the last twenty-five years in handling sex crimes, and most of the time, whoever is evaluating the computer can usually get deleted files.
Several programs claim that they will encrypt a file and block anybody from getting it. Still, I've seen the feds and even seen state forensic experts be able to find files and then criminally prosecute the individual who had those files.
The real issue is whether or not people are downloading files. Once somebody downloads a child pornography file related to a sex crime investigation, that person will typically be charged. The prosecutors and law enforcement know that the common defense in child pornography cases is that some virus accidentally brought it in. So they're looking for people to download it.
They're looking for people with child pornography right on their computer when they come in to execute the search warrant. They're looking for people downloading child pornography and leaving it on their computers.
Another issue is the amount of child pornography on someone's computer. Suppose someone has a lot of child pornography on their computer, or they've deleted a lot of child pornography. In that case, there's a strong argument that that person is involved with child pornography, and they will file those types of issues either at the federal or state level.
Federal Child Pornography Charges
As far as when they're determining which agency, federal or state, is going to deal with a child pornography case in Los Angeles or any state in the nation, the typical policy of the feds, who usually have jurisdiction if they choose to have it is, they're going to look at the number of images and amount of the videos that are involved and the type and nature of the videos, and then they will make their determination as to whether they want to file that case or not.
If they don't file the case, but there is evidence that the person has child pornography, then what ends up happening is the state will take that case and prosecute it but do not underestimate forensic experts when it comes to finding child pornography on computers, tablets, or phones.
The only caveat to that is it typically takes a long time to find child pornography. Most of these investigations average at least one year or more, especially when a federal prosecution.
So, you have to expect they will take a long time. You don't talk to the feds about that because they're going to try to ask you questions to lock in the fact that it's your computer – that you're the only one that downloaded anything and anything else that they think is relevant to try to convict you of the crime.
If an individual is caught with child pornography in videos, this can be difficult. The punishment for child pornography increases more and more as the images increase. A video counts for more ideas than a photo and can cause a person to have more exposure than a photograph.
When the prosecutors seize videos that contain images classified as child pornography, they will send them to an expert to evaluate them and give them a detailed report as to exactly what they have.
This report will dictate what charges are filed against the person and the level of seriousness that will surround their case. In the appropriate case, we will hire experts to challenge the prosecution's expert and either defend the entire case or minimize the damages their expert can cause.
What Does the Government Have to Prove?
To convict a suspect of possession of child pornography, the government must prove that:
- Defendant knowingly possessed, worked on, produced, with or without intent to distribute;
- Material that depicts or describes sexual conduct involving a party under 18.
Child pornography is charged under PC 311.11 and may be charged in either state or federal court. Our sex crime defense lawyers can handle your case, whether set on the state or national level.
Child pornography charges include distribution, possession, internet pornography, peer to peer sharing, to name a few. If you or someone you know is facing child pornography charges, do not wait or hesitate and contact us for a free face-to-face consultation.
Defenses for Child Pornography Charges
As in anything in life, coming up with the right game plan from the beginning of the case is crucial to a successful resolution. This is why it is essential to hire the right attorney, be truthful with them and follow their advice.
When I sit down with clients for the first time, I impress upon them the importance of honesty and making sure that they give me all of the details related to the case so I am not surprised by something later on down the road. Another critical thing is deciding how the defense will be conducted and how the investigation of the case will go. Once we have our plan in place, we will work together to get the job done right!
Have you been charged with distributing or possessing child pornography videos? You must obtain a wise, skilled, and experienced sex crime defense attorney.
Our Los Angeles Sex Crime Defense Attorneys have 75 years of experience. We have the credentials and skills that qualify us to handle your possession or distribution of child pornography video charges effectively.
Videos include but are not limited to laser disks, floppy disks, DVDs, VHSs, and any form of film that depicts a minor in sexual activity.
August 2015 – Successful Case Result
Los Angeles Downtown Criminal Courthouse – My client was charged with possession of child pornography and faced multiple years in prison because of the number of images he possessed.
Because of the time that the prosecutors took to charge him with anything, I was able to negotiate a no-jail time resolution. My client was terrified of going to jail and feared for his safety. This resolution saved his sanity and possibly saved his life from his perspective.
Oct 2015 – No Jail Time in Federal Child Pornography Case
Los Angeles Downtown Federal Court – My client was charged with possessing thousands of child pornography images.
At sentencing, he received no jail & treatment in a program at a halfway house. After a psychological evaluation and investigative work before sentencing, I convinced the court that my client was not a sexual predator.