Internet Child Pornography Prosecutions Increase Nationwide

Federal prosecutions of people accused of distributing or possessing child pornography have grown astronomically with the expansion of the Internet. The FBI reports a more than 2,000 percent increase in such prosecutions since it launched the Innocent Images National Initiative (IINI) in 1995. One reason behind such explosive growth is the nature of Internet sex crimes investigations.

Unlike the standard "gumshoe" image of a detective tracking a criminal after an incident with a victim, the heart of a child pornography investigation takes place online. An agent equipped with peer-to-peer software and a high-speed Internet connection can readily access and review thousands of videos and other digital files across the country while targeting suspects.

FBI investigations have resulted in well over 10,000 arrests since the advent of the IINI, and U.S. Department of Justice statistics reveal over 2,300 indictments in 2009 alone. And possession or trafficking of digital images of child pornography is only one type of Internet sex crime - many more citizens are investigated and prosecuted for crimes such as Internet luring. Along with the stress, shame, notoriety and criminal consequences, people found guilty of these and other sex crimes such as sexual assault, indecent exposure or solicitation face mandatory placement on the sex offender registry.

Severe Sentencing Requirements: One More Reason for an Aggressive Criminal Defense

Under federal law, possessing and distributing child pornography is subject to a minimum five-year sentence, and the U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines advise judges to impose even longer sentences. That is one very important reason for anyone who suspects an investigation or has been arrested to enlist an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer.

As quickly as glaring assumptions of guilt can land on a suspect, every potential defendant must know that Internet sex crimes cases involve complex technical and legal issues, as well as the presumption of innocence. By acting swiftly to share their concerns about the consequences of a sex offense conviction with a defense attorney, prospective clients can learn about their legal options and discuss likely defense strategies.