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Legal Defenses Against Child Pornography Charges

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Aug 30, 2017

Several different defenses can be utilized for a Possession of Child Pornography case prosecuted at the state or federal level.  As you might guess, these defenses depend on the facts of a particular case and what evidence the authorities can bring to bear on a specific defendant.

In other words, there are no “cookie-cutter” defenses that can be used in every sex crime or Possession of Child Pornography case.  The facts of the case and the evidence law enforcement has gathered will dictate how the best sex crime defense attorneys will defend a particular topic.

Once your attorney has reviewed all of the relevant evidence, spoke to the other side, and spoke to you, they are then able to make the moves necessary to best defend you.

Giving statements to the authorities investigating these cases is never a good idea and will usually serve to help them prove their case against you.  It is always advisable to hire a seasoned sex crime defense attorney as soon as possible. Make sure you are honest with them about your involvement and then use their experience to guide you through the dangerous waters of a criminal sex crime case.

There is a lot on the line in these cases, and your attorney, all of the relevant information and know-how, must handle a case of this magnitude.


The first thing that must be established by law enforcement related to these types of cases is that whatever device they found the illegal pornography on belongs to the person they want to charge. They are the ones who downloaded it onto the device they have seized.

In other words, even though a computer might be yours, if you are not the one who downloaded the child pornography on there and you did not know it was on your computer, then you are not guilty of the crime of Possession of Child Pornography.

Of course, since the police know that is one of the primary defenses for this type of crime when they come into serving a warrant and do their investigation, they will ask everyone in the household whose computer is and who uses it.

They will come right to you and ask you if that is your computer and if anyone else uses it.  Further, they will also ask you if you are the one who downloaded the Child Pornography.  If you admit to being the only one to use the computer and or tell them that you are the one who downloaded the illegal content, then you have given them the evidence they need to convict you.

It is not easy when the authorities surprise you and come into your home.  They will also use this element of shock and shake against you to get you to admit what they need to convict you.  Another issue has to do with you not wanting anyone in your home to get blamed for what they are eventually going to find, and this will lead to an admission that can not be taken back later.


Another typical defense that I see in these cases is that the person involved says they downloaded the illegal content by mistake.  The argument that I know a lot is that the person was looking at legal pornography and somehow stumbled into a site with Child Pornography.

This is undoubtedly a defense, but the prosecutors, judge, and even a jury will look at all of the circumstances surrounding the possession and then see if there is evidence that you knew the site contained illegal images and that you intentionally viewed and downloaded them.

If you have thousands of illegal images and videos stored on your computer's hard drive, you are going to have a problem arguing that it was an accident.  Most of these cases and criminal defense, in general, are all based on logical, common-sense arguments.

On the other hand, if it is a one-time download of Child Pornography, the authorities are not likely to waste their time prosecuting this type of case.  It is my experience that they will give you the benefit of the doubt in this limited circumstance.


The first thing that the authorities have to do when investigating this nature is to trace whomever they want to target for a Child Pornography case.  The way they do this is to utilize their computer expertise to trace the IP address of whoever they suspect of downloading and viewing the illegal content.

Once they trace the IP address, then they typically will obtain a search warrant for the physical address of that IP address and then go and knock the door down, seize all of the devices in that location and take statements from everyone inside the area.

It takes them quite a long time to review the devices they seize because there is a massive backlog of work for the FBI computer experts.  In the meantime, your attorney must be working with the other side to minimize the damage to you or your loved one.  If your attorney can get ahead of this issue and speak to the prosecutor before anything is filed, things tend to go much smoother in resolving the case.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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