If you face criminal charges for possession or distribution of illicit images of children, working with an experienced, aggressive lawyer is important. Understanding your legal options and asserting appropriate defenses can greatly impact the outcome of your case. Riverside child pornography attorney Gregory H. Comings defends the accused, providing an approach tailored to the circumstances of their case. Unlike other sex crimes, such as rape, criminal charges for distribution of child pornography rely upon evidence, and a clear evidentiary trail. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we investigate all appropriate legal defenses that may assist our clients, including illegal law enforcement tactics and techniques.
California makes it a crime to possess, produce, sell or distribute child pornography. Distribution of child pornography is a criminal charge appropriate when someone transports, duplicates, and sends out pornography to others. In California, “child pornography” is defined as images, data, computer files, and other depictions that show a person under the age of 18 engaged in a sexual act. The sexual act can be simulated and need not be real.
California Penal Code Section 311 sets out California’s laws surrounding child pornography. Distributing or possessing obscene matter showing sexual conduct by a minor is detailed in PC 311.1(a) and 311.2(b)). It is a crime to knowingly send, produce, duplicate, transport or produce child pornography with intent to distribute it.
An individual cannot be prosecuted for child pornography if they did not know they were in possession or downloading material involving a minor. However, this element, the mental state, can be shown without an admission from the defendant. An example would be a search engine history showing “child sex” or “underage girls.” The defendant must know that the material showed a person under 18 participating in sexual conduct.
Penalties for child pornography crimes depend upon the specific facts, as the prosecution can charge many of these sex crimes as a misdemeanor or felony. As a misdemeanor, criminal penalties for distribution of child pornography can range from one year in county jail and a two thousand dollar fine. Felony conviction carries up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to one hundred thousand dollars. In many cases, child pornography convictions require the individual register as a sex offender.
In addition to facing criminal charges under California law, an individual may be charged with violating federal law for distributing child pornography. Under 18 U.S.C. Sections 2252 and 2252A, pornographic material that crosses state lines exposes the individual to federal prosecution. Distribution of child pornography through email or a website will be considered to have crossed state lines.
The prosecution has the burden of showing that the defendant violated child pornography law, beyond a reasonable doubt. When a lawyer introduces doubt concerning the defendant’s intent to distribute pornography, for example, the defendant may avoid a conviction. An attorney may also introduce a legal defense based on entrapment or illegal search and seizure tactics.
Luring a suspect into committing a crime is entrapment. If law enforcement influences or induces an individual to commit a crime, that is considered illegal entrapment. Overbearing conduct on the part of law enforcement can look like harassment, or flattery. If the accused can show they only committed the crime because of entrapment, they may have an acceptable legal defense.
Child pornography criminal cases are different than other sex crimes because there is usually a clear evidentiary trail. The child pornography is seized and preserved by law enforcement. However, if law enforcement illegally performed a search or seizure to collect this evidence, they cannot rely upon this evidence. In most scenarios, law enforcement is required to use a search warrant, and receive consent or emergency justification for working without a warrant or consent.
Prosecutors and judges take sex crimes seriously. A criminal conviction for child pornography may carry devastating legal consequences. Attorney Gregory H. Comings can serve as your ally against these charges, as well as and domestic violence. Our office is in Riverside and we help people throughout Indio, Fontana, Palm Desert, Victorville, as well as San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. To schedule a consultation, call our office at (951) 686-3457 or reach us online.