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Federal Child Pornography Arraignments in Maryland
Whether or not the judge releases someone on bond or their own recognizance depends on the judge and on the kind of charge that the defendant is facing. It also depends on the individual, and whether they have previous run-ins with the law or anything. Judges generally put some kind of a bond in place—even if it’s a high dollar amount—for child pornography cases, because they are considered nonviolent cases. This is due to the fact that more often than not, there’s not a physical victim of the child pornography, rather these are images or videos that one has been found in possession of but hasn’t had any actual contact with the child himself.
On the other hand, a person’s criminal history, background, or the circumstances of the case itself and how offensive it might be to the community or to a particular court system would certainly cause the judge to make different determinations when it comes to setting a bond or not setting a bond in a particular case.
Important Factors at Federal Arraignments
An arraignment is the time where the judge is looking to find out what a person’s position is and whether they will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Most often, any individuals charged with something as serious as possession of child pornography or distribution of child pornography are going to enter a plea of not guilty in their arraignment.
Arraignments are procedural in nature, but there’s not a great deal that happens in those arraignments, particularly when it comes to cases at the felony level, which is what a case like this would be.
In the federal system, it’s unusual or extremely unlikely that prosecutors and defense attorneys will have any more information at the time of the arraignment than just a report from the investigating officer or perhaps a few pieces of evidence. By no means would discovery have been completed by the time the arraignment actually took place. It would be extremely unusual for a judge to even hear a guilty plea at that time, because there would still be a great deal of information that needed to be reviewed by all parties including the defendant.
Generally speaking, at an arraignment all that a judge is looking for is to find out whether a person has retained counsel and whether that person understands his or her charges.
Being a “Danger to the Public”
When somebody is in possession of child pornography, the concern that the court system has is that they see a market. When there are people out there looking for child pornography, even if they are not the ones who are creating it, the person who is creating it obviously needs a market to create for.
One of the biggest concerns in the community is that as long as these people are out there and not prosecuted—so that they can be monitored more closely by the government, put away, or placed on the sex offender registry,—the community doesn’t have any ability to know how dangerous these individuals might be to children who might be depicted in these particular pieces of child pornography.
The concern first and foremost for the community is to make sure that people who are charged with possession or distribution of child pornography are stopped so that the children of the community are safe.