Our culture sees the sexual exploitation of children as the vilest of crimes. Courts deal out the harshest sentences for child molesters and rapists.
You know what? We don’t really have a problem with that.
However, we find a lot that’s objectionable when lawmakers also assign similar levels of punishment for possessing or distributing computer images of children under age 18. Accusations of possessing child pornography can destroy a person’s reputation and career—even when the accusations are unfounded. Prosecutors know this, of course, so child porn charges are sometimes used as leverage in order to coerce a defendant to take a plea bargain rather than fight for his legal rights.
Child porn in Wilmington: The prosecutor’s viewpoint
To the local district attorney or assistant prosecutor, possessing or transmitting sexually explicit—or even merely suggestive—images of children or teens is an evil in itself. Intentionally viewing such material on a computer can be prosecuted under the same laws, because your computer or cell phone makes a copy of a digital file in the process of displaying it. Possessing child porn is not considered less offensive than photographing those images in the first place. Prosecutors also see no significant difference between pictures or video clips that depict sexual acts and those that merely simulate those acts.
If one of those pictures or video clips is on your home computer, laptop, or cell phone, then you are implicated. You may be arrested and charged for a sex crime involving a juvenile. If convicted, your name will included on North Carolina’s sex offender registry. The details of your conviction will be public knowledge.
Legal defenses against North Carolina child pornography charges
The Wilmington sex crimes defense attorneys at Speaks Law Firm have developed a number of legal strategies for clients accused of possessing child pornography. We also have the experience to recognize defense arguments that are likely to fail (with “I didn’t know she was underage” being, perhaps, the weakest excuse clients try to use). Depending on the circumstances of a client’s case, we might propose any of these seven overall strategies to avoid a conviction:
- Our client relied on documentation that the model was of legal age. The website that provided the pictures or video certified that all its models were at least 18 years old, and our client reasonably relied on that claim.
- The subject matter isn’t pornography; it’s art. The video is an animated cartoon that doesn’t depict actual humans, or the images show culturally or historically important artifacts.
- Illegal search and seizure. Law enforcement officials made important errors against our client’s civil rights when confiscating his computer, and any evidence from that device has to be ignored.
- Entrapment. A police investigator, pretending to be a teenage girl online, enticed me into accepting or trading the images in question. I never would have done so if I hadn’t been pressured in this way.
- Those aren’t our client’s image files. He shared his computer or cell phone with others, who may have downloaded the offensive material. The police arrested the wrong guy.
- The files were placed on our client’s hard drive in error. He mistyped an Internet address and ended up at a porn site in error—one that stored images on his hard drive without his knowledge. Or the images were sent to him as an e-mail attachment. Our client did not have the intent required for the criminal charges against him.
- The files were placed on our client’s hard drive in an extortion effort. Our client’s computer is infected with a computer virus or malware worm that hides unremovable pornographic images on the hard drive. The virus’s designers then threaten the user that he will be reported to the authorities unless he pays a fee. Such ransomware attacks have become increasingly bolder in recent years.
Are you facing child porn charges?
Don’t be bowled over by an aggressive prosecuting attorney. Hire Speaks Law Firm to stand up in your defense. Call 910-341-7570 locally or 877-593-4233 toll-free today.
The Speaks Law Firm represents criminal defendants in federal and state courts throughout the Wilmington, North Carolina area, including New Hanover County, Pender County, Brunswick County, Columbus County, and Robeson County. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.