Child Pornography LAWYER
If you have been arrested or believe you might be under investigation for child pornography (filed under California Penal Code 311 (PC)) or any other online sex offense in San Diego, I can help you. I am child pornography attorney Peter M. Liss. I have tried over 100 criminal jury trials in Vista and San Diego County and personally defended many people arrested and charged with in-person or internet sex offenses, such as attempting to meet a minor for sex, online child molestation, pimping, harassment by sending obscene or threatening email, solicitation for prostitution, sending harmful material with the intent of seducing a minor, or child pornography possession, distribution or production.
I can also help you if you are facing a potential “third strike” under the three-strikes law or registration as a sex offender. If you need a skilled, experienced child pornography defense lawyer in California with a track record of success, please call me at (760) 643-4050 for a free consultation. You will receive top-quality representation for a reasonable fee.
Child Porn Charges in San Diego: 311 (PC)
California’s child pornography laws only make nude images or videos of minors illegal if the minor is engaged in sexual conduct. Sexual conduct can occur without penetration if the image is intended to stimulate the viewer sexually. It is illegal even if a sexual act between minors is simulated. At least one real child under 18 must be depicted for a person to be guilty of production, possession or distribution. Parents should not be concerned with innocent photos of their children, nor should those who possess materials created and shared for scientific or educational purposes. However, it is worth mentioning that teens have been charged for taking and sexting explicit pictures of each other.
Child Pornography Production: 311.2 (PC)
The creation of sexually explicit materials depicting minors is taken very seriously under the law. Still, while most people envision it to always involve juvenile human trafficking and abuse victims, exploitive adults are not the only people accused of making child pornography. Many people charged with this crime are minors who took images of themselves or friends/sexual partners.
Child Pornography Possession: 311.11 (PC)
While possession of child pornography seems like a straightforward charge, it’s worth mentioning that the law is very inflexible. Many teens have been charged for receiving pictures of their boyfriend or girlfriend -even when they are both under 18.
Child Pornography Distribution: 311.1 and 311.2 (PC)
While many people believe the distribution of child porn requires physically handing something to someone or selling the material, in fact, prosecutors can bring up distribution charges if you shared child pornography with even one other individual in person, online, via text or by any other means of communication. No sale needs to have taken place. Surprisingly, intent doesn’t matter under 311 (PC), so if someone sends you pornographic images of a minor and you share them with the local media or a friend when discussing how disgusting the content is, you could still be charged with child pornography distribution.
Other Internet Sex Crimes
Online sex offenses can also include: attempting to meet a child for sex (288.4 (PC)); sending harmful material with the intent of seducing a minor (288.2 (PC)); cyberstalking (646.9 (PC)); solicitation for prostitution (647(b) (PC)); and other offenses. These charges can stem from behavior on chat rooms, social networks, peer-to-peer networks, the dark web and other websites. They often involve sting operations or even specially designed malware released by law enforcement.
Can I Face Child Porn Charges if I Thought the Material Depicted Adults?
You may still be arrested and charged, but not knowing the age of the people depicted is a valid defense. To be convicted, the prosecutor must prove that you knew the material portrayed a juvenile. If a person in the content looks particularly young or a website advertised the content as featuring minors under 18, this defense could be problematic. Always talk to your lawyer before speaking with the police.
Don’t Take Chances. Call an Attorney Now!
Child pornography charges are incredibly challenging to fight and can ruin your reputation in the community even if you are acquitted. Never face these allegations without the help of a San Diego child pornography attorney.
You must contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are aware of any police investigation or as soon as the victim or police contact you about this matter. Do not speak to the police or any alleged victims on the phone or something you say could be used as evidence against you.
Can a Minor be Guilty of Child Pornography?
Sadly, the laws designed to protect children from exploitation have also been used against minors who have taken naked photos or videos of themselves or their girlfriends or boyfriends, as well as minors were been sent nude pictures or videos of other teens.
While it’s reasonable to question the rationale behind arresting a teen for making or receiving a picture or video of another teen who consented to the act, the fact is that this is still a crime. If you try to defend yourself by saying it’s just your girlfriend or boyfriend, this can be used as a confession. These are serious charges, and if you are a minor accused of possession or creation of child pornography, it is critical that you speak with a juvenile defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Unsolicited Explicit Content Depicting Minors
Unfortunately, with today’s technologies, it is common for people to receive unwanted images or videos depicting minors in sexual situations. If you inadvertently receive explicit content depicting someone you believe to be under 18, the best course of action is to speak to a San Diego criminal defense attorney before bringing them to the attention of the police or FBI, including detailed information on how you received the content. If you do not want to contact authorities or a lawyer, it is best to delete the material immediately. Knowing about the content and holding on to it could serve as evidence that you wanted it.
I Didn’t Look at Child Porn on my Computer, but Another Person May Have. What Should I do?
Tell your attorney as soon as possible and give him a complete list of everyone who uses your computer and your internet connection. Alternatively, some people have had their computers infected with viruses that download and then share this type of content without their knowledge. In some cases, it’s also possible to unknowingly download sexual images or videos of someone under 18 on peer-to-peer networks without knowing you downloaded them.
The good news is that while intent doesn’t matter when sharing this material, knowledge does matter. If your child pornography lawyer can show there is insufficient proof that you were aware of the content, you cannot be convicted under California or federal law. Your lawyer may even hire a forensic computer specialist who can recover evidence to back up your story that someone else viewed or a computer virus downloaded the illegal material.
Search and Seizure of Your Home, Phone and Computer
If you believe you may be suspected of any of these crimes, you must call a lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights. Your attorney can be particularly beneficial in helping to protect you against the illegal search and seizure of your home and electronic devices, such as cell phones and computers. Your attorney can ensure that police searches are legal and that any evidence related to the violation of your rights is withheld from your trial. It is worth recognizing that while many people are not aware of it, the police do need a warrant to search your cell phone, but only if it is locked. So always use a lock screen on your phone and insist police present a warrant before agreeing to unlock the device.
Your IP Address Doesn’t Confirm Your Guilt
Some believe they are protected from computer crime investigations as long as they use a private browser, but this is not enough to keep evidence of illegal activities. On the other hand, your IP address alone is not enough to convict you of a computer crime because it is common for people to share IP addresses. Just because police and prosecutors get a warrant to seize your cell phone or computer does not mean they will find evidence of a crime.
Even if investigators uncover illegal material on your computer, it does not necessarily mean you were the one who downloaded it or that you even knew it was there. Guest users and viruses can download files without the owner of the device’s knowledge.
Protect Your Rights During Police Searches
Remember, the prosecution must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is why they will collect all the evidence they can to make their case against you as strong as possible. Because child pornography crimes often involve cell phones, computers and other digital files, you must work with a lawyer with experience in complex digital crimes.
Penalties for Child Pornography Convictions
Child pornography cases may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the specific details of the situation. Those convicted of a misdemeanor may face up to one year in county jail, whereas those convicted of a felony may face up to eight years in state prison.
You could also face enhanced penalties if the minors depicted were prepubescent, if the content showed penetration or if you possessed a large quantity of these materials. Typically, these enhancements can add one extra year to your sentence. More than one enhancement may be applied in a single case.
Prepubescent Sentencing Enhancements
Prepubescent enhancements can be added to a child pornography case when the minor depicted has not yet hit puberty. This enhancement can generally be fought with the help of a top prepubescent enhancement attorney because the children seen in most pornography cases are unknown, so their age is unclear. While the prosecution may argue that a child appears prepubescent based on certain factors, your defense lawyer can argue that puberty affects everyone differently -for example, some girls don’t develop breasts until they are 15 or 16, even if they started their period at 12 or 13.
Penetration enhancements can be applied when child pornography features sexual penetration of a body part or object. You could also face a sentencing enhancement if the content depicts a minor participating in sadist or masochistic behaviors.
The most common sentence enhancement in child pornography cases comes into play when the defendant had more than 600 images of child pornography or more than 10 images depicting a minor under 12 years old.
The Consequences Go Beyond Incarceration
If you are convicted of possessing or distributing child pornography, you will face time behind bars, significant fines, and be forced to register as a sex offender. A conviction may also destroy your family life since you could also lose the right to see your children or be in the presence of children. Penalties for even a first-time charge can be life-changing. Just the accusation of such crimes can ruin your reputation and damage your relationships with neighbors, friends, family members and business associates.