A conviction of a sex crime may be very damaging in terms of the defendant’s potential loss of freedom, fines, and other penalties, as well as with regard to their reputation and future employment opportunities. Additionally, registration as a sex offender may be a lifelong requirement. Therefore, a person who has been accused of a sex offense, including the possession of child pornography, should take the charges very seriously. San Bernardino and Riverside child pornography attorney Gregory H. Comings provides experienced, assertive services to people who have been accused of this crime. We understand that being accused of any crime may be a highly emotional experience. If you are currently facing charges, our sex crime lawyer is here to help ease your concerns by providing comprehensive legal advice concerning the evidence against you, possible defenses, and the likelihood of a conviction.
Under the California Penal Code, it is a crime to knowingly possess or control matter depicting a person under 18 engaging in or simulating sexual conduct. For the purposes of California law, this includes both hard-copy images, such as photographs and photocopies, as well as video or electronic images, including those that are computer-generated. Possession of child pornography is a “wobbler offense,” meaning that it may be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the situation.
A simple, first-time violation of this law may result in up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. If, however, the offender has a previous conviction of an offense requiring registration as a sex offender, they may be incarcerated for up to six years and face a fine of up to $10,000. Other sentence enhancement factors include possession of matter portraying sexual sadism or sexual masochism or matter containing more than 600 images of which at least 10 images are of a prepubescent minor or a child under the age of 12. In calculating the number of images at issue, videos and movies are considered as having 50 images under the applicable statute. Notably, the State of California is not required to prove that matter displaying sexual images of children is “obscene,” as that term is defined in the law. A child pornography lawyer can advise Riverside and San Bernardino residents on a strategy for fighting the charges in their specific situation.
Federal law also criminalizes the possession of child pornography if the offense was committed in interstate or foreign commerce. This includes situations in which matter containing child pornography was transported across state lines by the post office or a common carrier. Almost all internet-based child pornography offenses may be considered federal crimes because, even if the image in question did not travel across state lines, it is extremely likely that the computer on which it was downloaded did travel in interstate or foreign commerce at some point. It is important to note that, under federal law, an image need only be sufficiently sexually suggestive; it does not need to depict the minor engaging in sexual activity.
In addition to general constitutional protections, such as the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and the right to remain silent, there may be defenses available that are specific to a particular crime or situation. Since one of the elements required for a conviction of child pornography is that the offender acted knowingly, it may be possible to defeat a charge if the defendant unwittingly downloaded illegal material from the internet, not knowing that the images included a minor. It may also be possible to explain that the material in question was used for an educational or scientific purpose. Finally, it is a defense to any crime to argue that the State simply did not meet its burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
A conviction of possession of child pornography may have many adverse consequences on the life of the defendant. To talk to a knowledgeable San Bernardino or Riverside child pornography lawyer about possible defenses to the charges that you are facing, call The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online and schedule a consultation. To accommodate your schedule, we offer weekend and evening appointments when necessary. Gregory H. Comings also represents people who are seeking a domestic violence lawyer or assistance with fighting charges of drug offenses or white collar crimes.