If a federal or Florida state court finds you guilty of possessing child pornography, you could face a lengthy prison sentence, steep fines and the social disgrace that comes with being a registered sexual predator. This kind of stigma can prevent you from getting a job and even residing in certain communities. Therefore, if the government has charged you or you think it will charge you with criminal possession of child pornography, do not hesitate to retain an experienced board certified criminal defense attorney to help you protect your rights.
Internet Child Pornography
Illegal child pornography is any image that portrays a person under the age of 18 engaged in conduct with sexual overtones. The Internet allows people to access child pornography at the click of a button. Sometimes people who download images from the Internet unknowingly download child pornography. This is not a crime, and a computer forensics expert can verify that the download was accidental. However, if you go so far as to save the illicit images to a flash drive or your computer’s hard drive, then that can be damning evidence of your intent to possess child pornography.
Your first notice that you are under investigation for this crime may be when the police have come to your home or office with a warrant to seize and search your computer. DO NOT TALK TO THEM WITHOUT YOUR ATTORNEY BY YOUR SIDE. By trying to explain what happened, you could help the prosecution’s case (and seriously hurt yours) by confirming that the computer belongs to you and that you were aware of the child pornography on your computer. Consequently, possible defenses that could have negated the intent element of this crime, i.e., third-party access to your computer or accidental download, may no longer be viable.
If the government has not formally charged you but it probably will because the evidence weighs heavily against you, your lawyer may suggest that you enter a sex-offender counseling program. There are counselors who help individuals who have a penchant for child pornography. Do not think that by doing this that you are forfeiting your defenses and admitting your guilt. Instead, counseling is a proactive, equitable measure designed to help stave off charges. Moreover, undergoing counseling after being charged could help reduce your prison sentence.
Risk Assessment Report
If the court finds you guilty, the prosecutor will ask a psychologist to provide a risk assessment report about you. He or she will review your history and the results of your polygraph test to determine whether you are likely to collect child pornography or actually sexually abuse children in the future. The prosecutor will provide the psychologist’s risk assessment report to the judge. The proactive measure you took by seeking counseling before the government charged you could lead to a favorable report that may cause the judge to reduce or set aside your prison sentence.