I've done a lot of pre-filing cases and child pornography cases under California Penal Code 311 in Los Angeles county and I think pre-filing investigation is an important subject to talk about.
Because in these cases, a lot of times what you see happening is, people are using various devices to view and distribute child pornography:
The police are finding out about it in various manners. Maybe a victim comes forward because their parents found on their phone, some sort of child pornography being passed back and forth between the underaged girl and the male perpetrator.
Chat Rooms & Search Warrants
Other times, they are are in chat rooms. Somebody chats with them and then they're able to trace that person's IP address.
Sometimes people share files and the police crack into that and they can see all the people who looked at those particular child pornography files and they just take their time and hit them one at a time and execute search warrants at their house. When they get to the house, they number one:
- first try to get a statement from the person to incriminate him; and
- they try to confirm that whoever's IP address they're tracking, they can narrow it down to one single person.
So, someone they arrest can't later say, well, that's not mine. Somebody else is using that. So, that's one of the things they try to do when they get in the house, and of course, they seize all of the devices so that they can be analyzed by experts.
That, I think, is where some problems develop because a lot of times people hire lawyers pre-filing. The lawyers do everything they're supposed to.
But, sometimes it takes a long time for the authorities to access and assess these particular computer devices because there are so many and they are limited manpower-wise, so you have to be patient in a pre-filing child pornography investigation.
The key is to hire an attorney who has had experience doing these cases. Be honest with the attorney so the attorney knows what they're up against.
Federal Child Pornography Charges
Then the next issue is, is the case going to be a state or federal case under 18 U.S.C. 2252? If you have a lot of images.
I'm talking thousands of images, there's a high probability the case will be filed at the federal level.
If, on the other hand, you don't have that many images, a lot of times that case will be sent to the state to prosecute.
It really depends on the amount of child pornography and the circumstances by which the child pornography was found.
Sometimes it's a matter of luck or unluckiness, depending on who's investigating the case, that will determine who ends up prosecuting the case.
Penalties For a Federal Child Porn Conviction
Obviously, the feds have a much harsher punishment when it comes to child pornography possession, distribution, production — they've got mandatory minimums in some of these cases:
- Five years for distribution;
- Fifteen years for production of child pornography.
That can be as simple as telling someone who's underage to send you a nude photograph. You just produced child pornography.
If the feds prosecute that, you're looking at a 15-year mandatory minimum. That gives these guys a lot of power, obviously, when it comes to negotiation.
Criminal Defense for Child Pornography Charges
So, when you're talking about the pre-filing phase, I stand at the ready to help you. I've been doing this for 27 years from a defense standpoint.
I've also worked for a Superior Court judge. I've also worked for the prosecution/DA's office in the early 1990s, so I've seen all aspects as it relates not only to child pornography, but various other crimes.
I have a good feel for exactly how to handle these types of cases.
So, pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436.
We serve clients throughout Southern California courts, including LA County, Orange County, Ventura County, Hollywood, Pasadena, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 374-3952.