The best way to protect yourself against the life-altering consequences of a child pornography conviction is to retain the services of a California attorney who has experience defending clients against child pornography charges. The state of California has taken a tough stance against sex crimes involving minors, and criminal offenses related to the possession, control, distribution, transportation, duplication, production or advertisement of child pornography are prosecuted aggressively and punished harshly under California law. There are several California statutes that criminalize activities related to child pornography and depending on the specific facts of the case, a conviction for a child pornography crime can lead to a lengthy prison sentence, payment of a substantial fine and lifetime registration as a convicted sex offender, not to mention devastating collateral consequences, such as obstacles to future employment, housing and professional licensing opportunities. If you or someone you love has been accused of committing a crime involving child pornography, there is no time to waste. Contact our skilled criminal defense attorneys at Sevens Legal Criminal Lawyers today for legal help.
California Defense Attorneys for Child Pornography Charges
The laws governing child pornography offenses in California are complex and there are many different crimes you can be charged with if you are accused of committing an offense involving child pornography. The right approach to defending against child pornography charges depends on your specific situation, which is why it is imperative that you contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible to begin building the strongest possible defense. Only with an experienced child pornography defense attorney on your side can you preserve your rights and safeguard your future.
Every state has its own laws that govern child pornography offenses and set forth the appropriate punishment to be imposed upon convicted offenders. The following are the various child pornography offenses that are charged most often under California law:
- Producing or distributing child pornography – a violation of Penal Code §§ 311.1 and 311.2 PC
- Sexual exploitation of a child – a violation of Penal Code § 311.3 PC
- Hiring, recruiting or coercing a minor to participate in the production of child pornography – a violation of Penal Code § 311.4 PC
- Advertising child pornography – a violation of Penal Code § 311.10 PC
- Possessing or controlling child pornography – a violation of Penal Code § 311.11 PC
What Constitutes Child Pornography?
In California, the term “child pornography” is broadly defined as any matter or material that depicts a minor under the age of 18 engaged in or simulating sexual conduct, and there are a number of possible situations in which child pornography charges can be filed against an innocent person who unknowingly possesses, controls or distributes pornographic materials that involve a minor. For instance, you may have downloaded the images onto your computer without realizing that they were pornographic in nature or sent them to someone else, unaware that the individuals depicted in the images were not of-age. It is also entirely possible that you simply clicked on the wrong link or downloaded a file that contained malware, or that pornographic images or videos were downloaded onto your computer by someone else without your knowledge or consent.
The ubiquitous nature of the Internet and social media makes it incredibly easy to download and share images and videos with the click of a button, and you may find yourself in a situation where you have inadvertently downloaded or shared material that constitutes child pornography. If this applies to you, it is important to remember that you are not guilty of violating California’s child pornography laws if you did not intentionally seek out, download or share the material knowing that it was child pornography. In fact, intent is one of the most important components of California’s child pornography laws. In order to be guilty of a violation of Penal Code § 311.11 PC (possession or control of child pornography), for example, you must have had knowledge of the pornographic nature of the material and the age of the person depicted in the material.
California Child Pornography Penalties
A child pornography conviction in San Diego can result in a wide range of potential penalties, depending on the nature of the charge, the defendant’s criminal history and other factors. Most California child pornography crimes are charged as “wobblers,” which means the decision to prosecute the offense as a misdemeanor or felony is up to the prosecution. Under California law, the maximum term of imprisonment for a misdemeanor child pornography conviction is one year in county jail, plus up to $2,500 in fines, while the maximum term of imprisonment for a felony conviction is eight years in prison, plus up to $100,000 in fines. Unfortunately, even after you have completed your jail or prison sentence and paid the necessary fines, you will still have to register with the state of California as a convicted sex offender, which is something that can adversely affect you for the rest of your life.
Defending Against Child Pornography Charges
Child pornography charges are taken very seriously in the state of California and being accused of a child pornography-related offense, like child pornography possession or distribution, may seem like the end of the world, especially if you are facing mandatory sex offender registration for life. However, it is possible to successfully defend or reduce child pornography charges in California, based on a lack of knowledge or intent, illegal search and seizure tactics used by the police, the misclassification of material as child pornography, the age of the person depicted in the pornography, entrapment or another legal defense.
Criminal accusations of child pornography and sexual misconduct involving minors tend to elicit strong emotional reactions from the public and the press, and it can be challenging for defendants charged with child pornography-related offenses to get a fair trial. Violations of California’s child pornography laws are associated with a lasting social stigma and many people will take one look at the accusations leveled against you and make an immediate assumption about your guilt. But that doesn’t mean you will be found guilty of the crime in a court of law.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your criminal charges, you are always presumed innocent until proven guilty under the law, and the burden of proving your guilt rests with the prosecution. Only by establishing each individual element of the crime you are accused of committing beyond a reasonable doubt, can the prosecution get a guilty verdict in your case. For instance, if you are facing charges for possession of child pornography (California Penal Code § 311.11 PC), one of the most common child pornography charges in California, the prosecution must prove the following elements of the crime:
- You knowingly possessed or controlled pornographic material, and
- You knew that the material depicted a minor under the age of 18.
With the right defense strategy and an aggressive defense lawyer protecting your rights, you can significantly improve your chances of getting a positive outcome in your case.
Common Defenses Against Child Pornography Charges
It is possible to obtain a favorable judgment, reduced charges or a dismissal in your California child pornography case, and the most direct path to a satisfactory resolution is with an experienced criminal defense attorney defending your rights and fighting for your freedom. The following are some common legal defenses against child pornography charges that your defense attorney may be able to use, depending on the specific facts of your case:
- Innocence – You did not obtain the pornographic material knowingly or intentionally
- False accusation – You have been framed or falsely accused of the crime
- Emancipated minor – The minor was legally emancipated at the time the pornographic material was produced
- Illegal search and seizure – The evidence against you was obtained during an illegal search by police
- Entrapment – You were lured into committing the crime by an undercover police officer
- Legitimate purpose – The alleged pornographic material had a legitimate medical, educational or scientific purpose
- Age – The individuals depicted as being involved in sexual conduct were not under the age of 18 at the time the material was produced
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Being charged with a child pornography offense can be traumatic and life-changing. Even just being accused of possessing, producing or distributing child pornography can feel like a worst-case scenario, and the prosecution may try to take advantage of your desire to put an end to the accusations and convince you that pleading guilty is your best chance at reducing your exposure to the penalties associated with a criminal conviction. However, any time you are facing criminal charges in California or anywhere else, it is important to remember that the prosecutor is not on your side. After all, the prosecution’s main objective is to convict you or get a guilty plea. That is why you need a criminal defense attorney on your side who has your best interests in mind and can guide you towards a satisfactory resolution to your case. Your best chance at getting the criminal charges dismissed or securing an acquittal at trial is to enlist the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who knows what it takes to win. Our legal team at Sevens Legal Criminal Lawyers has a proven record of success defending clients against sex crime charges and we can help you in your child pornography case.