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Search Warrants Related to Child Pornography Offenses

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Sep 27, 2022

What happens after law enforcement serves a search warrant on your home looking for child pornography?

Usually, what I see happen is that the police and much time, it's a multi-task force – sometimes Homeland Security, Secret Service – that's the feds – and the other element is whoever the local law enforcement agency is close to your home, they'll come in, serve a search warrant.

Search Warrants Related to Child Pornography Offenses

They'll seize everything.  Of course, they will try to talk to you and get you to admit that you're involved with child pornography.

One of the biggest things they do is get you to acknowledge that whatever devices they're taking are yours and nobody else has access to them, such as your computer

That way, they're in a position, if they find anything, to be able to say that you're the one that put it on there.  You're the one that downloaded it.  You're the one that shared it, whatever the case may be.

Suppose you are found possessing, producing, selling, or distributing any material depicting a child under 18 in a sexual manner. In that case, you might face serious federal charges of child pornography defined under 18 U.S.C. § 2252.

The subsections in this law define different categories of conduct, like knowingly transporting child porn using interstate commerce, by computer or mail, and visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

These laws make it a federal offense to receive or distribute child pornography images, such as downloading child porn online or sharing images with other internet users through a file-sharing service. The related laws are:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 1462 – transport obscene matters,
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1465 – transport obscene matters for sale,
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1470 – transfer obscene material to minors,
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2251 – sexual exploitation of children,
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2251A – selling and buying of children,
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2252A – child porn material activities,
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2260 –produce explicit depictions of minor to import.

California Child Pornography Laws

California Penal Code 311 PC defines a child pornography offense as when somebody knowingly possesses, distributes, produces, publicizes, duplicates, or sells child porn.

California Child Pornography Laws

Put simply, there are several ways to violate child porn laws, ranging from simple possession, downloading, viewing, and severe distribution crimes.

Regardless of which law was violated, all child porn crimes have a primary factor in common, which is that the prosecution has to prove all of the “elements of the crime" beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction, such as:

  • That you knowingly possessed images or videos that depicted minors engaging in sexual-related activity;
  • That you should have known the images included somebody under 18 engaging in sexual activity.

In other words, to be convicted of a child pornography offense, it has to be proven that you intentionally possessed or controlled obscene material depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct or simulating sexual acts.

Use of Forensic Experts

So, you start to understand how these guys come into a home.  Suppose you're in the unfortunate position of having had a search warrant served at your home. In that case, the next thing you should do immediately is hire a criminal defense attorney – someone like me who's been doing this for 30 years and can deal with law enforcement and prosecutors. 

Because what they're going to do is, they're going to go through all of the computers, phones, whatever, and they can get to most stuff.  People think because they have it encrypted or they've deleted it, that somehow they're not going to find it. 

They've got forensic experts that are going to go in there and look at it, so you want your attorney on it right away, talking to the government, the agents, so if they do decide to file a case, they don't just come to your home or your work and arrest you.

Negotiation with the Federal Prosecutor

Something that can be arranged between your attorney and the Assistant United States Attorney and try to keep you out of custody – try to minimize the damages that can come from the possession of child pornography.

For example, send child pornography to somebody else, or share it with somebody else. They can get you for distribution of child pornography which carries a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence. 

Many times, if they do have the evidence against you, I can negotiate just a straight possession of child pornography which doesn't have a mandatory minimum, so that you wouldn't be facing that compulsory 5-year minimum. So, you need an attorney who knows what they're doing.

The next thing is to have no further communications with the authorities.  Sometimes they'll come in with a joint task force where you have a combination of federal and state agents seeking child porn. When you meet with me, we will cover the following issues:

  • we will discuss precisely what was seized,
  • what agents will find when they search the computers, etc.,
  • what are the next steps moving forward,
  • whether you said anything to incriminate yourself.

We will attempt to protect your legal rights, freedom, reputation, and everything important to you. There are all sorts of different things that can be done.

Negotiation with the Federal Prosecutor

So, what you want your criminal attorney to do is reach out to the federal agents that took your property, find out if there's a federal prosecutor involved with the case, find out what information you can get related to the investigation, and make any necessary legal moves on your behalf.

What I have you do is come into the office.  We sit down and talk about everything.  We go through step by step where we stand.

Then we design a plan to help you because you're facing sex registration for life, you're facing federal prison, and a host of other punishments, and we want to get ahead of it and start making some moves that can put you in the best possible position.

So, if you need the best, and I think you do, pick up the phone now and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law Firm provides a free case consultation via phone or contact form.

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.

Contact Us Today

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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