If you find yourself facing child pornography charges in Virginia, you are subject to penalties under both state and federal law. Having a certain level of understanding of these laws is crucial so you can navigate your case as successfully as possible. This article serves as your starting point, unpacking:
- Defense strategies to consider for your case.
- The punishments associated with these crimes.
- How to handle yourself when interacting with the police.
Is Child Pornography A State Or Federal Crime?
Child pornography is both a state and federal crime. It is worth noting, however, that child pornography charges in Virginia fall under different code sections. One is for just being in possession of child pornography, but there is another for distribution or the production of child pornography.
What Are The Punishments For Child Pornography?
Child pornography charges in Virginia are considered Class Six felonies, with a punishment range spanning from one to five years of imprisonment.
For cases involving the production or distribution of child pornography, the penalties are determined by the age of the child depicted in the images. If the child is younger than 15, the punishment range extends from five to thirty years. Furthermore, if the defendant is more than seven years older than the person depicted in the images, a mandatory minimum sentence of five years applies.
For cases involving minors aged 15 to 18 in the images, the punishment range is between one to 20 years. However, if there is a seven-year age difference between the defendant and the individual depicted, the range increases to three to 30 years, with a mandatory minimum sentence of three years for this specific offense.
What Do I Do If I Accidentally Viewed Or Downloaded Child Pornography?
If you mistakenly come across child pornography, immediately delete the content and ensure it is permanently removed from any folders it may have been saved in. Child pornography possession charges in Virginia require the prosecution to prove you possessed the content intentionally and knowingly.
So, if you accidentally encounter such material on a website and promptly delete it, there would not be much of a case that could be built against you if you were ever charged. The key is to act swiftly and ensure that the image is completely removed, leaving no trace behind.
What Should I Do If The Police Contact Me About Child Pornography Allegations?
If the police contact you regarding child pornography, it is crucial to exercise caution throughout the entirety of your interaction with them. The first and most important step is to refrain from making any statements. Avoid discussing the situation with them or providing your side of the story. Instead, clearly state that you would like a lawyer present and politely decline to engage in further conversation.
Do not allow them to pressure you into resuming the discussion without legal counsel. If they mention calling back or leave a card or voicemail, resist the temptation to contact the officer directly. Instead, promptly reach out to a lawyer who can guide you through the situation and serve as your point of communication with law enforcement to ensure your interactions are limited and handled appropriately.
Can The Police Seize My Computer If I Am Being Investigated Or Have Been Charged For Child Pornography Possession And Distribution?
When law enforcement investigates a case involving child pornography, an initial action they will take is to obtain a search warrant for devices with internet access, such as computers, tablets, and phones. They will seize these devices and extract content, including any images or data.
It’s essential to be aware that if you come into contact with law enforcement during an investigation, they will take any computer or phone that they encounter. If you are aware that you are under investigation, this is something to keep in mind, as the police will seize any relevant devices, regardless of whether they are on your person or located in a searched property.
What Defenses Can I Use In My Child Pornography Case?
It is possible to mount a successful defense in a child pornography case. One potential defense is based on the argument of accidentally viewing the content, meaning you unintentionally came across the content.
Moreover, if law enforcement discovers a series of numerous images on a computer, they must establish that the individuals depicted are indeed minors. If it can be demonstrated that the person in the video appears to be an adult made to look like a minor, your defense may be case-winning, as it significantly challenges the assertion that the image involved minors, thus failing to trigger statutory punishments.
Another defense strategy in some instances involves questioning whether the individual in the video is a real human or if it is simply an AI or computer-generated image. This provides another avenue for defense against the charges.
For more information on Child Pornography Charges In Virginia, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (804) 621-0854 today.