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Child Pornography Search Warrants

What Can You Expect When a Search Warrant is Executed at Your Home and Devices with Child Pornography Are Seized?

I've been doing both and state and federal criminal defense now for 30 years. When the feds come in or the state, or there's a combination of both, a multi-task force looking for child pornography in your home, you bet your bottom dollar they have been given some information or found some information that tracks to an IP address in your home that links to you.

 A lot of times what they'll do when they come in is ask you a bunch of questions to try to confirm that it's your IP address, your computer, your devices that they're seizing.  That way, whatever they find will be attached to you.

If someone is smart enough to not claim ownership and they're actually able to do that -- it's not really clear that it's in their name and they're the only one who has access to the computer -- then they may have a chance to have a defense.

Child Pornography Search Warrants

That's why, when they come in, the police know one of their main primary jobs is to make sure that whatever devices they seize, they can tag to some sort of an owner. 

So, if they find child pornography on it, they'll be able to prosecute that person for possession, potentially distribution or even production of child pornography.

What you can expect is there is going to be some time that passes while they evaluate your computer. 

I've even seen cases where there is child pornography on the computer -- they can see the images, but they also know there may be more than what they're able to see very easily. 

Because they have a threshold at the federal level on what cases they will take child pornography-wise, a lot of times law enforcement will not arrest the person right there.  Instead, they'll seize all of their devices. 

They'll try to get them to make a statement. They'll give them a receipt for the property that was taken and then they will leave. Our California sex crime defense attorneys will review the child porn laws below.

Child Pornography Laws in California - Penal Code 311 PC

The crime of child pornography is described under California Penal Code 311 PC as when someone knowingly possesses, distributes, produces, publicizes, duplicates, sell, or prints child porn in any form.

Put simply, there are a wide range of ways to commit a child porn crime under PC 311 from simple possession, downloading and viewing, all the way to the more serious crime of distribution.

Regardless of which subsection of the law was allegedly violated, every child pornography crime has a one major factor in common, which is that the prosecutor must be able to prove all the elements of the crime in order to convict you, including:

  • You knowingly had possession of images or videos that depicted minors engaging in sexual activity;
  • You knew, or should have known, the images included a person under the age of 18 engaging in sexual acts

Put simply, in order to be convicted a child pornography crime, it must be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, you intentionally possessed or controlled any obscene material depicting a minor (under 18), engaging in sexual conduct or simulating sexual acts.

Federal Child Pornography Laws - 18 U.S.C. § 2252

Title 18 U.S. Code Section 2252 makes it a federal crime to willfully possess, create, distribute, and transport child pornography.

The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 defines child pornography as:

  • “any visual depiction of a minor who is engaging in sexually explicit conduct, whether it's made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means.”

Simply put, 18 U.S.C. 2252 prohibits the possession, receipt and distribution of sexual images of children.

If you knowing possess, distribute, or access child pornography with intent to view, it is violating federal laws.

If you are convicted of a federal child porn offense, you could be sentenced to up to 15 years in a federal prison, along with a mandatory requirement to be included on sex offender registries.

Many federal criminal investigations into child pornography activity occur through undercover online operations in chat rooms. Here, federal agents will pose as an adult seeking child porn images or videos.

18 U.S.C. 2251 sexual exploitation of children is a closely related statute which provides harsh penalties for any person who attempts to persuade a minor to produce child pornography.

What Should I Do If I'm Under a Child Porn Investigation?

So, your best bet is to hire an attorney right away.  Let that attorney contact law enforcement, find out if there's a prosecutor already working on the case.

Most important, however, let them know you've got an attorney and you're not going to talk to these guys anymore.

What Should I Do If I'm Under a Child Porn Investigation?

It also lets them know if they do decide to federally indict you for possession and/or distribution of child pornography, they're going to have to go through your attorney to do that. 

Also, that gives you the best chance of staying out of custody because your attorney can deal with the prosecutor and government on the other side and work out some sort of bond conditions. 

If you don't have an attorney, then they're going to come and try to talk to you again and lock you into even further to whatever they found.

Further, they're probably going to arrest you on the spot, whether that being your home, your job or wherever they're able to find you. 

If you've got an attorney, the attorney can arrange things for you. They don't have to do it that way but they're much more likely to do it if you know you have an attorney.  Also, your attorney can:

  • act as a buffer between you and the police,
  • get whatever mitigating factors that might be available to the prosecutors and law enforcement, and
  • give you the best chance of staying out of custody and getting a better resolution that if you try to handle it yourself.

You can't just bury your head, hope for the bet and say to yourself, I'll just hire an attorney if they come and arrest me.  That's probably not the best approach.

Contact Hedding Law Firm to Defend You Against Child Porn Allegations

So, what you can expect is for them to go through your devices.  If they find child pornography on it they're going to arrest you. 

Depending on what type of child pornography they find, the amount of images, the amount of videos, the amount of photographs -- that will determine if it goes state or federal.

Pick up the phone now.  I've been doing this a long time.  You've put yourself in a very bad position, but somebody like me is going to be able to pull out all of the stops to put you in the best position moving forward.

Call our law firm and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding and we'll begin the process of defending you.

Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles County and represents people in California and throughout the United States.

We offer a free case evaluation to review the details of your case and to discuss legal options. Contact us at 213, or fill out the contact form.

Related: Federal Search Warrants for Child Pornography

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Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about state or federal sex crime issues in California and throughout the United States.

I'll privately discuss your case with you at your convenience. All consultations are free, discreet, and confidential. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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