Serious Crimes Need a Sophisticated Approach
At the Marshall Defense Firm, we have a lot of experience defending against child pornography charges.
Defense of these cases often requires deep technical expertise. The prosecution must show that the person accused was the person using the computer in question at the key times. It must also show that child pornography was viewed or acquired intentionally—not by accident. We work with leading computer forensics experts to develop these and other technically-sophisticated defenses for our clients.
Complex Web of State and Federal Child Pornography Laws
There have been many changes over the last few decades in both federal and state child pornography laws. Acts that were not even crimes in the past are now punished with stiff mandatory minimum sentences.
Federal offenses range from possession, to receipt, to production of child pornography. A person can be convicted of production even if they did not produce any images or video; it is enough to encourage someone else to take a sexual picture of a young person. Imagine an adult who strikes up an online acquaintance with an underage teen. If the adult asks the teen to send a sexual selfie and the teen does so, the adult is guilty of production of child pornography—a crime that in federal court carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.
States have similar laws–though usually without mandatory minimum sentences. Because of this difference in punishment, state prosecutors sometimes threaten to transfer a defendant to federal court if they won’t plead guilty in state court.
Sometimes both federal and state prosecutors will charge the same person for the same alleged acts. The courts have decided that that kind of double charging does not violate the Constitution’s ban on double jeopardy.
Even “Children” can be Convicted of Child Pornography Crimes
In Washington State, the age of consent to sexual intercourse is sixteen. It is generally legal for an adult to have sex with a 16-year-old. But if the 16-year-old allows the adult to take a nude photo, the adult commits the crime of production of child pornography—even if the photo is never shown to anyone. Even if the 16-year-old takes a nude picture of his or herself (without any encouragement by the adult,) the adult commits the crime of possession of child pornography when that picture is received.
But it’s not just the adult who can get in big trouble in this situation. The 16-year-old who takes a sexual selfie can, too. Yes, a person under 18 can be charged with production of child pornography for sending a sexually explicit photo of his or herself.
Another bizarre twist concerns the Washington crime of Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes. Any sexual communication with a person under 18 can constitute that crime. This is true even if the person who sends the communication is also under 18.
Child Pornography Penalties Beyond Imprisonment
Child pornography offenses are classified in Washington law as “sex offenses.” This means persons convicted of them must register as sex offenders.
Federal law permits child pornography victims (the persons photographed) to collect huge sums through lawsuits against persons who possessed their images. At the Marshall Defense Firm, we have much experience defending against those civil claims as well as against criminal charges.
What it’s Like to Have The Marshall Defense Firm in Your Corner
Respect and compassion for our clients are the foundation of our work. Nobody needs it more than those accused of a child pornography crime. We take time to get to know our clients and to hear what’s happened to them. It’s where our fierce advocacy for them begins.
Then there’s our experience—many years of defending child pornography and other sex cases. From that experience, and from our on-going study of law, medicine, and psychology related to these cases, we have exceptional skill.
And we pool that skill. We work as a team. We know that no one lawyer, no matter how brilliant, has all the good ideas.
Our final ingredient is relentless investigation and preparation. When we step into court to defend the accused, we are ready to do it well.