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Prosecution of Maryland Federal Child Pornography Cases
For those that have been accused of child pornography, the following is important information to know regarding how these cases are treated by prosecutors and judges and what will need to be proven in a federal child pornography case. If you have been charged, call and schedule a free consultation with a Maryland federal child pornography lawyer today.
Are Child Pornography Cases Typically Prosecuted in State or Federal Court?
Child pornography cases can be prosecuted in either court system. Both court systems have jurisdiction over these kinds of cases and it’s really up to each individual office whether they elect to prosecute a case of this nature. More often than not, child pornography cases are handled by a particular division of any prosecutor’s office, and the division of the prosecutor’s office that handles those kinds of cases usually has the relationship with the counterpart from the state.
For example, a federal prosecutor will know the state prosecutor in the jurisdiction that prosecutes those cases. Those offices communicate on a regular basis to determine whether they want to proceed with a particular kind of charge.
What Should An Individual Know About The Publicity of Their Case Before Trial?
These kinds of charges are considered public record. In the federal system when somebody is charged with a child pornography violation, that person can expect that the information about the case will be made public several weeks before the first court date. In the federal system, it’s a little more difficult to track down somebody’s charges than it is in the state system.
In the state system, the charges are much more easily accessed and much more easily identified by any individual in the public, because there’s an online database that people can look to to find out whether somebody has been charged. The federal system uses a more private method to give the information about a particular case and while the public tends to have access to that information, it’s not quite as user friendly or straightforward to look through as it might be in the state system.
What Does Prosecution Need to Prove in a Federal Child Pornography Case?
Depending on what violation of the statute there is, the prosecutor is going to need to prove that an individual was either in possession of child pornography or distributed child pornography and that this act was willful and knowing. For example, if an individual had a bunch of child pornography that was on a computer and we could demonstrate that it wasn’t something that he downloaded intentionally, and it was just a bunch of spam that ended up on his computer, that would be a good defense. He didn’t have the intent to download it or the the knowledge that it was on his computer. This was not something that he was knowingly in possession of.
There has to be a violation that the individual actually knew about for the government to proceed on these kinds of cases. Many people try and assert defenses in these cases that they didn’t know that an individual was under 18, was in this video, or was in this particular image and therefore they weren’t aware that the image or video was in fact illegal and in fact child pornography. Those defenses don’t work because the age of an individual when it comes to this kind of behavior or activity usually is something that is undisputed.
The images or videos that are being prosecuted are of people that appeared to be so young that anybody who had a common knowledge of individuals in their community would know that these people were underage. Another element of what the government has to prove is that the individuals in the particular images or video were in fact under age and constituted children for the purposes of the statute.
What Are Some Elements of a Child Pornography Cases That Are Hotly Contested in Court?
One of the most hotly contested issues will be whether the information that was found on the client’s computer, electronic media, or some other device was legally found. This is an issue of whether there were any constitutional violations in the search or even in the application for the warrant by law enforcement.
What Should Someone Facing Sex Crimes Charges Know About These Types of Cases?
The most important thing people should know about federal prosecution in these cases is that prosecutors are very well trained to handle these types of cases. Usually, this is a special prosecution unit, so the federal prosecutors that are handling these cases don’t handle any other kind of case. They’re strictly assigned to handling child pornography cases where they’re well versed on the law. They are well aware of the defenses that a defense attorney is likely to put into a particular case and all their plea offers are very well thought out.