The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 defines “child pornography” to include any visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct “whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means,” and even if they have “been created, adapted or modified.” The statute prohibits the possession, receipt and distribution of computer generated sexual images of children.
Federal prosecutions of child pornography offenses have risen exponentially in the last 10 years since the passage of the statute. With the dramatic increase in computer usage, issues related to how law enforcement accessed computer files have received a great deal of attention from the courts.
The investigation of these cases range from undercover operations in chat rooms where alleged sex predators roam to accessing sites known to law enforcement to publish child pornography, obtaining credit card records from those who access the site, then searching their homes and computers for the images.
Because of the nature of the investigatory tools used, a thorough understanding of the applicable law, and an incisive analysis of the images for which the defendant is being prosecuted is critical to a successful challenge of the investigation, and ultimately the defense of the case.
In these prosecutions, we have often found that state authorities investigating the case may make an arrest and the defendant is prosecuted under California statutes. Punishment under California law is not as severe as the federal counterparts. However, it is also often the case, depending on the number of pictures or other images seized, that the federal government will also indict under federal law. Because the sentences under federal law are much greater, the California prosecution will generally be dismissed to permit the federal case to go forward.
Quick action in these cases is always required. And the quick action can only come from a knowledgeable and experienced defense lawyer. We have handled dozens of cases involving child pornography and child sex abuse and with 31 years experience in criminal defense at all levels of involvement, from trials to appeals, our firm can act swiftly to prevent further damage to the client's case.