Child pornography can come in a lot of different forms. Mainly, the victim being depicted has to be under the age of 18.
Typically, the content will be on a computer, on the internet, on a phone, or on a tablet. The police will get their hands on it and be able to prove that you intentionally downloaded it, distributed it, or stored it.
Is Child Pornography Considered A State Crime Or A Federal Crime?
Child pornography charges can be prosecuted both at the state and the federal level. California Penal Code 311 describes the crime of child porn at the state level. 18 U.S.C. § 2252 describes federal child porn charges.
Typically, the dividing line for whether or not a child pornography case will be federally prosecuted is the:
- amount of child pornography that is found, and
- the type of child pornography that is found.
There is a big difference between simply possessing a few images to storing thousands of videos related to child pornography.
Many times, a combined taskforce of both state and federal agents is involved. Once they see what they are able to obtain from the execution of a search warrant, they decide whether or not to federally prosecute.
What About Cases Of Teens Sexting Or Passing Pictures Between Them?
A lot of times, in sexting cases over where the two parties are approximately the same age, they are simply warned by law enforcement.
Where people get into trouble is when one party is under the age of 18 and the other party is over the age of 18. Those cases will be prosecuted, particularly in scenarios where the victim is vulnerable.
If you are sexting with someone under the age of 18, you risk serious consequences. If you are being investigated or there is actually a charge against you, you should hire an attorney immediately.
What Are The Penalties For a Child Pornography Conviction?
If you get convicted of possessing or distributing child pornography at the state level, you are looking at a potential prison sentence.
Right now, in Los Angeles County, the head prosecutor has indicated that there is a presumption of probation for all felony cases.
However, there are some exceptions for sex crime cases, so it would depend on the exact scenario, such as:
- how many images you had, and
- what your criminal record looks like.
If a federal government is prosecuting you for possession of child pornography, your penalties can be significantly greater, depending on the number of images you have and the type of images you have.
There is a base level charge for possession of child pornography and then there are enhancements, if the child pornography is particularly disturbing or if there are many images.
These enhancements can take the sentence up to a seven-to 10-year range from a two-to-three-year range in federal prison.
It is much more difficult to generalize in federal criminal court as it relates to possession of child pornography because they can also charge you with distribution of child pornography.
State charges are much more generalized. If you don't have many images at the state level, you have a fighting chance to potentially get a probation sentence.
What Are Potential Defenses To Child Pornography Charges?
Is Not Knowing I Had It Or It Was A Mistake Enough Of A Defense? It is definitely a defense, if somehow you did not realize you had child pornography.
Perhaps, you were on a legitimate pornography website and you accidentally clicked on child pornography. Often, prosecutors try hard to prevent that defense from being utilized.
In most cases, someone has actually downloaded child pornography onto their hard drive, and that is very difficult to explain.
Another potential defense is that you are not the one who downloaded the child pornography onto the device.
There are defenses available. When I sit down with my clients, we go over everything and assess whether or not they might have a defense to possession or distribution of child pornography.
Many people do not realize that if you were to simply have child pornography on your computer that other people can share, that would be enough for a distribution charge.
You must look at the facts and circumstances surrounding your particular case in order to design a specific defense plan.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436.
We serve people is all Southern California courts, including LA County, Orange County, Ventura County, Hollywood, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.