Nearly every internet child pornography case makes its way to the nightly news. The stories talk about the crime and seemingly convict the person accused before any trial. The resulting publicity can make it extremely difficult for a person to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. People immediately assume the worst, and it can be challenging to find a jury that will handle these cases impartially.
Presenting a strong defense to these charges is critical, because the consequences of a conviction are long-lasting. Law enforcement will pursue child pornography and other sex crimes, and often, because of the high-profile nature of these crimes, a long prison sentence is very possible.
What many people do not realize about child pornography cases is that they may be brought under federal or state law. Each jurisdiction will have laws in place dealing with this issue, and the penalties will vary depending upon where the individual is being charged. Investigations may be conducted at either the federal or state level, so it is important to note which agency is alleging the wrongdoing.
Federal Child Pornography Laws
One of the federal laws dealing with internet child pornography is the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA). CPPA makes it a crime to receive, transport or distribute depictions of a child engaged in a sexual act. The act is written so that it encompasses a wide range of behaviors that are considered sexual, and also provides a definition of what types of materials will be subject to potential penalties.
CPPA defines child as someone under the age of 18. The act considers child pornography any visual depiction, which includes photos or videos, which depict or have been altered to depict a child engaged in sexual activity. Violations of this law may result in extensive federal prison sentences and high fines. If the offender has prior related convictions, the penalties will be increased.
Colorado Child Pornography Laws
"Sexual exploitation of a child" is the Colorado law that deals with child porn offenses. Like the federal law, a child is considered anyone under the age of 18. Under this law, it is a crime to possess or control sexually exploitive material that depicts sexual abuse of a child. The statute goes into detail about the types of materials that will be covered, as well as what can lead to enhanced penalties.
Under the Colorado law, persons convicted of a child pornography offense will also face potentially lengthy prison time and high fines. Additionally, Colorado requires those convicted of specific sex crimes to register as a sex offender. This requirement will last long after the case is over, and will require the offender to comply with additional restrictions after finishing any jail time.
Investigations into Child Porn Offenses
One thing both state and federal officials have in common is the aggressive nature in which they investigate these crimes. Law enforcement agencies often use the latest technology in tracking images of child porn. Special task forces are created to focus solely on images of child pornography.
When law enforcement discovers an image of child pornography, they often look for other people who have downloaded or saved the same image. Since many images are traded over various file-sharing websites, officials start their searches there. Investigators can run a search to see how many other users on the network have the same file name on their computers.
Officers may also visit chat rooms where child pornography is expected to be exchanged. They may try to get people to send them images of child porn, which can lead to charges for those that follow through. This may provide enough evidence for investigators to receive a warrant to search a suspect's computer for additional images.
If you have been accused of possessing or trafficking child pornography, you need to take these accusations seriously. A conviction will have a major impact upon your life, long after the case is over. You will have to register as a sex offender, and may face severe challenges when trying to find a place to live or work.
Prosecutors handle these cases very aggressively. Each one is very high-profile, and you might be forced into making decisions that are not in your best interests. Speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area to understand the options that are available to you. Every case is different, and you need to know exactly how the decisions you make will affect you long-term.