If you have been accused of a Child Pornography crime . . .
You cannot afford to wait. You need to act now to find an experienced child pornography defense lawyer to help protect you from the serious consequences these charges can entail. At the Sprano Law Firm, our criminal defense attorneys understand how much is at stake in these cases, and we know how to defend them in both the state and federal courts of Virginia.
Common Elements in Child Pornography Cases
In any child pornography case, the government will have to prove at least three elements. The first task for a child pornography defense attorney is to know and understand the government's burden of proof. The first thing the prosecuting attorney will need to prove is that the individuals in the images were indeed minors. In some cases the prosecution can meet this burden of proof just based on the appearance of the individuals alone, but other times it will have to find a witness who can actually identify the individual depicted. Second, the government has to establish that the images in question meet the legal definition of pornography - and are not simply depictions of nudity. Finally, the government must prove that the images were actually possessed, received, or distributed by the defendant and not someone else. It is not enough for the prosecution to show that the images were found on the defendant's computer. It must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that no one except the defendant could have put them there. Since it can be difficult to prove a negative, this often provides fertile ground for a skilled child pornography defense lawyer to attack the government's case.
Unfortunately, in most of these cases the client does not talk to a criminal defense lawyer until after he has already talked to the police or FBI. Law enforcement officers know exactly what evidence they need to obtain from these interviews in order to seal the case against the defendant, and they will use every interrogation trick in the book in order to obtain a confession. The police and FBI also know the rules and how to walk the line without technically crossing it, so that motions to suppress later filed by defense attorneys are rarely successful in these cases. The truth is that a lawfully obtained statement from the defendant makes success at trial a long shot in child pornography cases. If this describes your situation, you need a criminal defense lawyer who is smart enough to recognize that fact and start exploring other options to mitigate the offense and minimize the consequences. What you don't need is an attorney who will tell you whatever you want to hear just to walk away with your money.
Types of Child Pornography Charges
Child pornography charges fall into three general categories: possession, receipt and distribution. While the consequences of any child pornography conviction are severe, the difference between the three types are very significant. An experienced child pornography defense lawyer will employ a sound plea bargaining strategy to first seek to reduce the severity of the charge as much as possible. Receiving or Distribution of child pornography carries a harsh mandatory minimum prison sentence at least 5 years in federal court. Often, individuals do not realize they are engaging in distribution by the simple act of "file sharing" or trading images with other people on the internet. Since the sentencing guidelines call for significantly enhanced penalties when distribution was involved, in these cases our experienced criminal defense lawyers will try to convince the prosecutor that a fair resolution of the case would be to reduce the charge to simply receiving child pornography, which still carries a stiff mandatory minimum sentence but can result in a reduction of prison time by almost half in some cases. Best of the worst case scenarios would be an agreement to simple possession of child pornography. Since this does not carry a mandatory prison sentence it leaves the defense attorney free to argue for leniency from the sentencing judge, possibly even to the extent of probation instead of prisons. Putting the offense in perspective and convincing the judge that your whole good life should not be condemned for this one mistake are important parts of a successful sentencing presentation.
Defending Child Pornography Charges
Law enforcement has drastically increased the enforcement of these laws in recent years, casting a wide net in search of child predators. In such an environment, it is not surprising that the net gets cast too widely sometimes, and the unwitting innocent can be swept up along with the guilty. In almost all cases these days, the images in question were found on a computer and transmitted over the internet. Sometimes people whose only intention is to view perfectly legal adult erotica will unintentionally, and even unknowingly, wind up downloading explicit images of minors. When the images are discovered, law enforcement officials are not always receptive to the explanation that it was an accident. If this happens to you, if you have been falsely accused of intentionally possession, receiving, or distributing child pornography, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows how to try a case and win. Call us today. Our lawyers can and will aggressively defend your case.
Most importantly, our child pornography defense lawyers understand that every case is unique. Before assessing your case and advising you of your options, our attorneys will listen carefully to what you have to tell us what happened and your situation. We will take the time to discuss every possible defense and explain all of your options, and then we will help you decide on a case strategy that is right for you.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
To contact one of our trusted child pornography defense attorneys today, call us at 703-763-0979 or send us an e-mail.
Our office is located near the Fairfax County courthouse. We are open for appointments Monday through Friday, and available by phone and e-mail seven days a week.
Spanish language service is available.