Child pornography has existed far longer than the internet, but proliferation and exchanges have evolved significantly. So too have the tools law enforcement uses to investigate and charge defendants accused of cyber crime or child pornography. These are very serious charges and require a dedicated attorney who is laser focused on a strong defense.
The Southern California child pornography defense attorneys at Fakhimi & Associates recognize even an accusation of involvement in child pornography can ruin a person’s reputation and livelihood. A conviction will almost certainly result in incarceration.
It’s imperative for anyone charged with child pornography or computer crimes in California – whether under state or federal statutes – to secure immediate representation. Suspects should never offer a statement to authorities before first consulting with an Orange County or Riverside child pornography defense lawyer. What many don’t know is that sometimes, the most powerful evidence prosecutors have against a person is his own words.
People are embarrassed, nervous and desperate to believe a police investigator who urges them to “just tell the truth” if they want to receive an advantageous plea deal from the state. These are empty promises. The best way to minimize your risk of severe penalties is to hire an excellent defense attorney who can protect your rights and create a formidable defense. These are cases that often bring multiple charges, including charges of cyber crimes. Many are surprised to learn that allegations like these are more common than they realize. In fact, California has the most reported computer crimes in the country. The FBI’s report on internet crime indicates up to 15 percent of all cyber crime takes place in California.What are Child Pornography Charges in California?
Child pornography is defined in California Penal Code 311.3 and Penal Code 311.11. It is the knowing depiction of obscene material involving a child under 18 engaging in or personally simulating sexual conduct.
Images can be in the form of:
- Video laser disc
- data storage media
- computer hardware
- computer software
- computer floppy disc
- Computer-generated equipment or image
There are a number of statutes under which production, distribution and possession of these images can be prosecuted. The statutes are intricate and overwhelming and serve as a reminder of just how important strong legal representation is.
In many cases, a person may be charged with more than one crime for the same images, including laws associated with cyber crime. The following is a brief summary of California’s child pornography statutes:
- Penal Code 311.1 and 311.2. These statutes criminalize the knowing sending, transport, production, possession or duplication of any pornographic image of a child with intent to distribute it.
- Penal Code 311.3 . This statute refers to the sexual exploitation of a child. It criminalizes the knowing development, duplication, print or exchange of child pornography.
- Penal code 311.4 refers to the knowing hiring, using, employing, coercing or persuading a minor to engage in the production of child pornography.
- Penal Code 311.10 makes it a crime to advertise knowingly any obscene material involving children for distribution or sale.
- Penal Code 311.11 covers the act of knowingly possessing or controlling any child pornography, knowing it was produced using a person under the age of 18.
Other provisions of California law include importation or transportation of obscene material, transportation of obscene material for sale or distribution, transfer of obscene material to minors, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors.What are the California Penalties for Child Pornography Crimes?
Penalties for these crimes heavily depend on which laws a person is charged with having committed. One’s past history of sexual crimes plays a substantial role as well. Most of these offenses are either felonies or “wobblers,” meaning the prosecutor has discretion to charge them as either misdemeanors or felonies.
If a child pornography offense is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, the defendant will face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
However, if the child pornography offense is prosecuted as a felony, the penalties are much steeper. Usually, a felony conviction for child pornography involves a sentence of between 16 months to eight years in prison. In cases where the defendant actually produced the images and is also charged with sexual battery on a child (particularly one under the age of 14), he or she may be looking at a life sentence and fines can exceed $100,000.
All child pornography convictions in the state of California are accompanied by the lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender on the state’s sex offender registry. This is true regardless of whether the defendant is convicted of a child pornography misdemeanor or felony. Failure to register as a sex offender is a felony crime in and of itself.What are Some of the Defense Arguments That can be Argued in Child Pornography Cases?
If you are arrested for misdemeanor or felony child pornography, you will want to do everything you can to avoid a conviction. Our criminal defense lawyers can help.
Entrapment may be one possible defense. This is when a law enforcement official convinces someone to do something through fraud, harassment, pressure, flattery or threats. In child pornography cases, we most often see this defense when an arrest is the result of a “sting” involving undercover officers.
In order to effectively argue entrapment, you need an Orange County child pornography defense attorney who will be able to convince the court you would not have engaged in this conduct but for the officer’s actions.
Lack of intention could be another possible defense. This would arise when you encountered or shared the images without intending to do so. You may have clicked the wrong link, mistyped a search term or downloaded an image without knowing its contents.
Sometimes, there are cases in which an individual is falsely accused of a child pornography offense or other cyber crimes.
Finally, we will determine whether evidence police and prosecutors are using against you was legally obtained. If an officer searches your computer, your home or your vehicle, there must be a search warrant unless they have been granted consent by the owner to do so.
Even searches of your cell phone must be limited under certain legal provisions, especially when cyber crimes are being charged. The only exception to these rules would be an emergency, such as to prevent either a fleeing suspect or physical harm to another person.
Regardless of the details associated with your charges, it’s important to have a criminal defense attorney who knows California’s laws and who can provide a solid defense that allows you to move forward after such serious accusations. Give us a call today to learn more about your legal rights.