California is very dedicated to protecting children from being sexually exploited. Because of this, child pornography is one of the most heinous crimes on state and federal levels. According to the law, it’s illegal to produce, distribute, transport, sell or possess pornographic content that depicts or involves children below 18 years. So, all charges are usually severe and carry heavy implications.
Facing child pornography charges or even accusations can destroy your entire life, including your career and relationships. In addition, you risk criminal penalties such as hefty fines & prison time, and if you’re convicted, you’ll have to register as a sex offender. This is why it’s critical that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your case.
A Quick Overview of Child Pornography Charges
While the internet has considerably made our lives more convenient, it has also made it extremely easy to possess child pornography unwillingly. The legal age of consent in San Diego is 18 years, and under the California Penal Code 311, it’s illegal to have any digital or printed content that features minors below the ages of 18 years in the nude or engaging in sexual activities. This means that you can be charged with being in possession of child pornography even when the minors are from states that have a lower age of consent.
In most cases, if you’re suspected of being involved with child pornography, your personal property, especially electronic devices, will be searched and seized. This often results in additional charges if you’re found to own any child pornography material.
Some of the charges you could face include;
- PC 311.1: This offense involves possessing, transporting, or producing child pornography with the intent to distribute it. You can either be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
- PC 311.2: This is the possession, production, and transportation of child pornography material with the intent of commercial distribution. It’s usually charged as a felony.
- PC 311.3: This charge involves exploiting a minor sexually.
- PC 311.4: This charge involves hiring or coercing a minor to produce child pornography.
- PC 311.10: This offense involves advertising sexually explicit content involving a minor to distribute, sell, or exchange it.
- PC 311.11: This offense involves owning child pornography material either in print or digital form.
For you to be found guilty of child pornography charges, the prosecution would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you actually possessed the explicit sexual material. They would also have to show that you were aware that the videos or images in your possession involved an underage minor performing sexual activities. While this seems straightforward, it rarely is, and any wrong move could land you in jail. This is why it’s critical that you contact a San Diego child pornography lawyer as soon as possible.
Penalties for Child Pornography Charges in San Diego
Due to the heinous nature of child pornography offenses, the penalties are usually very harsh. The accusation alone is enough to ruin your career and personal relationships due to the stigma associated with such crimes.
Most child pornography charges are usually filed as felonies. However, the extent or seriousness of your charges is usually determined by the circumstances surrounding your case and how your criminal attorney represents you. The penalties also vary and are dependent on your criminal history, the exact offense you’re facing, and whether you’ve been charged with a state or federal crime.
Here’s an overview of the child pornography charges and the penalties you’re likely to face;
Felony child pornography charges
If you’re convicted of a child pornography felony charge, you risk up to 8 years of imprisonment and fines of upto $10,000. In some cases, you could even incur a $50,000 fine.
Misdemeanor child pornography charges
Most misdemeanor child pornography charges result in a 1-year imprisonment in a San Diego county jail. In some cases, you could also incur a $1,000 fine.
Federal child pornography charges
Several convictions could result in a 5-year mandatory minimum imprisonment with a maximum period of 20 years.
Based on the aggravating factors surrounding your case, your charges could add up, increasing your prison term. The penalties are also harsher for repeat offenders. In addition, if you’ve been accused of child pornography offenses that have crossed state lines, you’ll automatically be charged at the federal level.
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Top Strategies for Defending Against Child Pornography Crimes in San Diego
Being charged with child pornography offenses can be devastating but don’t give up yet. If you get an experienced criminal defense attorney, who has a proven track record of successfully defending their clients and will fight for you aggressively, there is hope. Don’t forget that the penalties associated with a conviction are harsh, so you shouldn’t settle for anything but the best.
There are various legitimate and effective defenses that your San Diego child pornography lawyer can use to help you reclaim your life back. They include;
Illegal searches or seizures
There are instances where law enforcement oversteps their boundaries and obtains search warrants based on false information. Any material that was illegally obtained is inadmissible in court. Your attorney can use this defense to bar the prosecution from presenting key evidence at trial.
The internet contains a vast sea of content, and clicking on the wrong link or misspelling words can lead you to a child pornography site. This happens more than people care to admit, especially when you click on a misleading advert. However, you should note that forensics can uncover whether the access was intentional based on the time you spent on the site.
Sometimes, journalists, law officers, and investigators create elaborate schemes aimed at getting potential offenders to admit to their crimes. They induce a law-abiding citizen to commit a crime that they would have otherwise not committed by using threats, flattery, fraud, and harassment.
There are instances where the child pornography material isn’t yours. For instance, an acquaintance, in an effort to hide their crimes, could have stored the explicit materials in your device. In some instances, it could be as simple as accepting a CD or data file without knowing that it contains child pornography. If you weren’t aware that the pornographic material was in your possession, then you shouldn’t be held liable for it. Your lawyer, however, has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you really had no knowledge that you were in possession of the content.
Watching pornographic content is not illegal. So, if your lawyer can prove that you had no way of knowing that the participants were underage, you may not be held liable.
There are other potential defenses that your San Diego child pornography lawyer can use to exonerate you of all charges. The above 5 are, however, the most common strategies.