The state of California is tough on sex crimes involving children, and child pornography in particular is punished harshly, with devastating social consequences and severe, life-changing legal penalties. A child pornography conviction in Los Angeles can result in a county jail or state prison sentence, significant fines and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration, and in any case where child pornography is distributed across state lines, including over the Internet, the federal government may get involved and impose even harsher penalties on offenders. If you have been arrested for – or charged with – child pornography, your first course of action should be to secure qualified legal representation. The potential consequences of a child pornography conviction can be life-changing, but with the help of our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles, you may be able to fight the charges, clear your name and move forward with your life.
Affordable Child Pornography Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
The federal government and the state of California are together taking considerable steps to crack down on sex crimes that involve, target and/or harm children, and if you are wrongfully accused of child pornography, the consequences for you and your family can be devastating. If child pornography is found on your computer, whether you knew it was there or intended to possess it or not, law enforcement will automatically assume you are guilty of the crime and nothing you say will convince them otherwise. You need a criminal defense lawyer on your side who is intimately familiar with California child pornography laws and who has the time, skills and resources to devote to your case. Our attorneys at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles have extensive experience defending clients against serious criminal charges, such as child pornography, and can help you develop a strong defense in your case. We will do everything in our power to help you fight these criminal charges, including interviewing witnesses, running background checks on prosecution witnesses, obtaining video surveillance footage, procuring police reports and collecting any other evidence related to the case. Contact our law firm at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today for a free initial consultation.
Federal law defines child pornography as material – print, electronic media, audio or video – that depicts children under the age of 18 involved in sexual or erotic poses or acts, including simulated sexual conduct. Under federal and California state law, it is illegal to produce, possess, distribute, transport or sell pornographic materials involving or depicting minors engaged in such acts or simulated acts. California obscenity laws were put in place to protect children from exploitation in pornographic materials, and simply possessing or downloading a photograph or video of a child under the age of 18 engaging in sexually exploitative behavior can result in child pornography charges. With the advent of the Internet, we are able to share information across the world with the click of a button. Unfortunately, this instant access has also enabled the proliferation of child pornography.
Although simply viewing child pornography is technically not a crime in California, the law “includes an image of child pornography as it is displayed on a computer screen as an object that can be knowingly possessed or controlled.” This means that looking at child pornography on your computer still constitutes a crime, even if you don’t possess or control the photo in the traditional sense of the words. Unfortunately, because illegal photos and videos are so easily accessible in this digital age, many people don’t realize the far-reaching and long-lasting ramifications of something as simple as downloading an image that could be construed as child pornography.
Conviction for Child Pornography Penal Code § 311 PC
There are a number of laws in California that prohibit child pornography, and each of these laws targets a specific illegal behavior, such as possessing, distributing and advertising child pornography. California Penal Code § 311.11 PC, for example, makes it a crime to knowingly possess or control pornographic images depicting children, while Penal Code § 311.1 PC and § 311.2 PC made it a crime to knowingly distribute, exchange or exhibit child pornography, and Penal Code § 311.3 makes it a crime to develop, print, duplicate or exchange materials classified as child pornography. In addition to the type of crime you allegedly committed, there are a number of factors the court will consider in your child pornography case, including how many images you possessed, the nature of the pornography, the type of activity depicted, your role in the crime, your criminal record, the existence of any previous sex offenses, and whether or not you are likely to become a repeat offender. In order to convict you of possession, production or distribution of child pornography, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you possessed, produced or distributed child pornography;
- That you knowingly engaged in these acts;
- That the material depicted an underage minor engaging in sexual conduct or simulating sexual acts; and
- That you knew the minor was under the age of 18.
Penalties for a Child Pornography Conviction
Child pornography is a serious criminal offense and a conviction on such charges carries severe penalties, the extent of which depends a great deal on whether the offense is charged as a felony or misdemeanor. For first-time offenders, Penal Code § 311.11 PC possession of child pornography is punishable by up to one year in a county jail and/or $2,500 in fines as a misdemeanor, or one year in state prison and $2,500 in fines as a felony. For individuals with a prior child pornography conviction, Penal Code § 311.11 PC is charged as a felony offense, punishable by two, four or six years in state prison and mandatory registration as a sex offender. On the other hand, for first-time offenders, Penal Code § 311.3 PC sexual exploitation of a child is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or $2,000 in fines as a misdemeanor, while subsequent offenses are charged as felony offenses, punishable by 16 months, two or three years in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines. In many child pornography cases, multiple charges are brought at the same time, which can result in additional penalties.
Sex Offender Registration
If you are convicted on charges of child pornography in Los Angeles, you will most likely be required to register with the state of California as a sex offender, a stigma that will follow you for the rest of your life. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act signed into federal law in 2006 categorizes sex offenders into three different tiers, based on the crime committed, with different registration requirements for each tier. Individuals convicted of misdemeanor possession and distribution of child pornography, for example, must register as Tier One offenders, which requires sex offender registration for a minimum of 10 years. Individuals convicted of felony possession, coercion, distribution, advertising or sexual exploitation must register as Tier Three offenders, the most serious tier, which requires sex offender registration for life.
Defenses to Child Pornography Charges
If you are facing child pornography charges in Los Angeles, you will need a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side to protect your rights and represent your best interests in court. In order to get a child pornography conviction, the prosecution must prove that the defendant knowingly participated in the act of possessing, producing or distributing pornographic material involving or depicting minors. There are a number of defense strategies a criminal defense attorney can employ in your case to explain, excuse and/or justify your alleged behavior, including the following:
- You did not possess or control child pornography material
- The material is not pornographic
- You were falsely accused
- The pornography was put on your computer without your knowledge
- Multiple people have access to the same computer or network
- Police conducted an illegal search and seizure
Hiring a Skilled Child Pornography Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Child pornography is a crime that is being prosecuted more and more frequently in California, due to pressure on law enforcement to crack down crimes involving children, particularly those involving the exploitation of children to satisfy sexual desires, and if you are facing charges of child pornography in Los Angeles, your reputation, future and freedom may be at stake. In addition to the social stigma associated with child pornography charges, a conviction and the required sex offender registration can also have a negative impact on future employment opportunities, your ability to find housing, and your child custody rights, among other aspects of your personal and professional life. Because of these life-changing potential consequences of a child pornography conviction, hiring a knowledgeable and aggressive child pornography defense attorney is the most important decision you’ll make when fighting these charges. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today for a free initial consultation.