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Police Executing Search Warrants for Child Pornography

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Nov 29, 2022

If law enforcement executes a search warrant at your home and seizes your phone and computers while looking for child pornography, what is your next move?

Many times I see people have law enforcement – either the local police or the feds or both – a multi-unit task force – that comes to their home, executes a search warrant, and takes all of the devices looking for child pornography.

Police Executing Search Warrants for Child Pornography

They get the person to admit that nobody else uses those devices. They even sometimes find downloaded child pornography on the person's device or get the person to acknowledge that they have child pornography on their device. 

When we have that scenario, you're terrified. Many times they don't even arrest the person at that point.  They don't arrest them because they're going through all of those devices, and it takes some time, so they want to ensure they've got the person for what they're guilty of.

Suppose they move too quickly and can't look at the devices fast enough. In that case, the criminal defense attorney can soon drive the case ahead to prevent them from charging the person with either possession or distribution of child pornography because they can't get the information fast enough.

The bottom line is when it comes to child pornography cases:

  • you're looking at lifetime sex registration;
  • you're looking at prison time;
  • you're looking at either state or federal charges;
  • you're looking at being in danger while you're in custody.

You want to get an attorney right away.  Even if you haven't been arrested, that doesn't mean you will not be charged.  Let's review this topic in more detail below.

What Are the Child Porn Laws in California?

Penal Code 311 PC has individual subsections that define specific laws relayed to child pornography, including:

  • Penal Code 311.1 PC and 311.2 PC cover distribution of child porn, which makes it a crime to send, transport, produce, possess, or duplicate it with the intent to distribute it;
  • Penal Code 311.3PC covers sharing child porn and makes it a crime to develop, duplicate knowingly, or exchange it;
  • Penal Code 311.4 PC covers knowingly hiring, employing, using, persuading, or coercing a minor to participate in producing child porn;
  • Penal Code 311.10 PC covers the crime of advertising obscene child porn for sale or distribution;
  • Penal Code 311.11 PC cover the crime of knowingly possessing or controlling child porn produced using minors under 18.

Penal Code 311 PC states that child porn under the law is any material, like pictures, films, videos, negatives, or slides depicting sexual activity by someone under 18.

Sexual conduct in context refers to acts such as intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation.

What Are the Federal Child Porn Laws?

Federal law 18 U.S.C. 2252makes it a crime to havethe willful possession, distribution, and transportation of child porn material.  The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 describes child porn as “any visual depiction of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, whether it's made or produced by electronic or mechanical means.”

Federal Child Porn Laws

Subsection (1) covers knowingly transporting or shipping child porn using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including by computer or mail. Any visual depiction of the producing of such visual depiction involves using minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct. The visual depiction is of such behavior as defined under 18 U.S.C. 2252(a)(1)(A)-(B).

Subsection (a)(3) covers the sale, or possession with intent to sell, of child porn images. Subsection (a)(4) covers the mere possession of child pornography.

In both subsections, there are jurisdictional requirements to ensure this is a federal crime, not a state-level offense. Thus, subsection (a)(3) crimes must occur “in the special maritime, and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or under the control of the Government…knowingly sells or possesses with intent to sell any visual depiction of child porn...that has been mailed, shipped, or transported using any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce, or which was produced using materials which have been mailed or so shipped or transported including by computer…”

This federal statute prohibits possessing, receiving, or distributing sexual images of minors under 18. If done willingly, you could face a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison for each offense and your personal information listed on sex offender registries.

The federal crime of 18 U.S.C. 2251,sexual exploitation of children, prohibits persuading minors to produce child pornography.

Peer-to-Peer Networks

Peer-to-peer networks are a significant troubling area of child pornography laws under the federal system.  If federal prosecutors can prove you were responsible for distributing child porn, you face harsh legal consequences.

Often, anyone using peer-to-peer networks must be aware that accessing them will open their computer files to other network members for downloading files.

This means that if another network member or federal law enforcement investigator can download child porno material from your computer through this network, you not only had possession of child porn but could be found guilty of the more serious offense of the distribution of child pornography.

Contact a Child Porn Defense Professional for Help

You want your attorney to contact the agents that arrested you immediately.

Child Porn Defense Professional

Also, to see if there's a prosecutor involved with the case and see what can be done to help you. 

Sometimes, moves can be made before you are charged with a crime that can shave years off a potential sentence at the state or federal level.

I've defended people like you for these types of offenses for 30 years.  I've worked for the DA's office, for a superior court judge, and just like you, fighting for you and trying to get the best possible result. 

If you need the best, if you're facing possession of child pornography charges, if a search warrant has been executed at your house, if you feel like your life is in jeopardy, pick up the phone now and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. We offer a free case evaluation via phone or fill out the contact form.

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

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