Fairfax child pornography lawyers at the Sprano Law Firm have defended people facing state and federal child pornography charges in Northern Virginia for over 15 years.
If you have been accused of a Child Pornography crime in state or federal court in Northern Virginia . . .
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 have represented numberous clients charged with possession, distribution and production of child pornogrpahy, in both state and federal court. We understand how much is at stake in these cases and know how to defend them to get the best result possible depending on the facts and circumstances of each case.
Common Elements in Child Pornography Cases
In any child pornography case, the government will have to prove at least four elements. 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, particularly for very young children. Other times it may be necessary for the prosecutor to call 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. It is not enough if they are simply depictions of nudity - there has to be something sexual about them as well in order to constitute child pornography. The government must prove that the images were actually possessed, received, or distributed by the defendant and not someone else. The fact that the computer (or other electronic device) belonged to the defendnat is of course relevant but not always dispositive. The prosecution 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. Finally, and most importantly, the prosecutor must establish knowledge and intent. Everyone has experienced a time when there was something on their computer they did not intend to put there. The entire industry of anti-virus software is built upon that. A successful child pornography case therefore depends on proof that the defendant had knowledge of the images and/or videos in question.
The government will attempt to build this case through the testimony of an experienced computer forensics expert. This is one of the main reasons why it is imperative to hire a defense lawyer with specialized experience and knowledge of these types of cases. A good child pornography defense attorney will have a good working knowledge of computer forensics, in order to accurately identify the strengths as well as weaknesses in the government's case.
Unfortunately, in most child pornography 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. The difference in the quality of legal representation in child pornography cases can often be measured in years, so it is important to make the right choice and hire a lawyer you can trust.
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, at a minimum our lawyers' try to convince the prosecutor that a fair resolution of the case would be to reduce the charge to simply posession or receiving child pornography, which can result in a reduction of prison time by almost half in some cases.
In state court, child pornography cases will usually be charged as possession or distribution (for file sharing), and in addition some jurisdictions will bring multiple charges and characterize them as "second or subsequent" offenses. In the case of distribution offenses, the 2nd and every subsquent charge can carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison for each count, so it is imperative that the lawyer can successfully convince the prosecutor to show some leniency and drop the mandatory minimum charges as part of plea bargaining negotiations.
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 Consultation
To contact one of our trusted child pornography defense attorneys today, call us at 703-763-0979 or send us an e-mail.
Please Note that because of the particular specialized nature of these charges, there will be a $250 fee for an initial consultation for individuals who suspect they may be under investigation for child pornography charges.
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.
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The Sprano Law Firm, LLP
Criminal Defense Lawyers
10603 Judicial Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
Toll Free: 866-936-5614
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