The Importance of Aggressive Defense Against Child Pornography Charges
August 22, 2010
More so than other type of crimes, those involving the alleged exploitation of children have the potential to ruin lives and reputations.
August 22, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/ -- More so than other types of crimes, those involving the alleged exploitation of children have the potential to ruin lives and reputations. These cases are often tried in the court of public opinion far sooner than they are taken before a judge and jury. Although the burden of proof lies with the State or Government, by the time the trial starts, the Defendant often feels he actually bears the burden of proving his own innocence.
A Difficult Task for Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys Alike
Evidence of pornography or obscenity possession or distribution is often found on Internet file-sharing or social networking sites, as well as, desktop PC's or laptops and even on portable file storage devices like flash drives or SD cards. Determining the source of this information is often difficult, particularly when an investigation begins solely based on information found online through network specialists tracing the activity back to a certain computer address or user. By the time that is done, the content could have been erased from the computer. Computer forensics experts are often brought in to recover the data and perform further analysis.
Locating evidence on a PC or other device does not automatically result in charges being brought. Even with proof in hand, law enforcement officials need to determine that the suspect was the one who actually possessed, distributed or manufactured the illicit material. The ease with which computer hackers can take control of another person's online accounts, screen names, and email addresses and infect computers adds another facet to these cases. Police and prosecutors should, but often don't take into account the possibility that a computer virus could have downloaded the material. Often a perfectly innocent visit to the wrong website or by clicking on a cleverly disguised banner ad can result in pornography being downloaded on one's computer without his/her knowledge.
If law enforcement officials do not take the time to properly investigate each incident, an innocent person's life can be turned upside down. A criminal defense attorney will do everything in his/her power to have charges dropped or secure a "not guilty" verdict at trial in these cases. Even if the evidence was properly seized, the defense can retain its own computer expert to show that the material was not intentionally or knowingly placed on the defendant's computer or that unqualified investigators tampered with the computer prior to its submission to investigators trained as forensic experts, thereby tainting the evidence.
When Emotions Run High, the Blame Game Begins
Several cases involving the manufacturing, possession or distribution of child pornography have drawn attention in recent months as part of a nationwide crackdown on the sexual exploitation, solicitation, molestation and abuse of children. The national program, known as Project Safe Childhood, has a two-fold purpose: aggressive, publicized pursuit of offenders and identification of victims. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are specifically targeting crimes against children that are occurring via Internet postings and file-sharing programs; using those tools to trace the origin of illegal content and prosecute those in possession of it.
Any publicity, even via unbiased reporting given to charges filed against suspected offenders can fuel public outcry and possibly taint a jury pool far before a trial begins. As an example, in May of 2010, a Parkville, Maryland, man was charged with (among other things) sexual exploitation of a child and several child pornography offenses. The Baltimore Sun covered the story, giving sensational details about the charges themselves and the evidence relied upon to make the arrest. This article inspired hate-filled comments including some referring to him as a pervert, a few calling for castration and others hoping he is attacked by prisoners if he is convicted.
Similar remarks appear on other news sites who reported on others facing allegations of crimes against children. It is just this sort of public sentiment that results in a "guilty until proven innocent" attitude that can irrevocably damage the reputation of someone later acquitted or against whom charges were later dropped.
Fighting to Protect Your Freedom and Your Reputation
Due in no small part to highly publicized initiatives like Project Safe Childhood, the penalties for any child pornography-related crimes are stiff. Depending on factors like the number and type of charges, prior criminal history and the likelihood of future criminal behavior, being convicted of one of these crimes in a state court could result in a significant prison sentence and lifetime registration as a sexual offender. Penalties are even greater in federal court; for example, the minimum prison sentence for the mere possession of child pornography is five years. Anyone facing such harsh punishment needs a skilled and passionate advocate at your side that knows the inner workings of the criminal justice system. Your chances of successfully fighting the charges may dramatically increase the earlier an attorney becomes involved in your case. For example, if you seek legal counsel before an arrest or serving of warrants, when you suspect that charges may be forthcoming, an attorney can intercede on your behalf in dealing with the investigative agency involved, thereby eliminating the possibility that you will allegedly say something that is damaging to your defense.
Keep in mind also, that in dealing with federal investigators, any statement deemed to be false will be treated as the commission of a felony punishable by up to five years incarceration. Obtaining legal counsel should ensure against this possibility from becoming a reality.
Article provided by Law Offices of Richard P. Arnold
Visit us at www.richardparnold.com
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