Retired Sheriff Sentenced on Child Pornography Charges
A retired sheriff’s deputy was sentenced recently to 20 years in federal prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release, after he was found guilty by a jury of receiving, possessing, and distributing child pornography. An investigation was initiated in 2011 using peer-to-peer software. According to evidence presented at trial, between December 2010 and June 2012 investigators discovered that numerous IP addresses linked to the deputy were used to receive and distribute computer files containing child pornography. A laptop seized during a search of the deputy’s home also contained images and videos of child pornography.
Child Pornography is Treated Seriously by Law Enforcement
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, child pornography was nearly eradicated in the 1980s thanks to aggressive measures and tactics employed by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. These efforts made it extremely difficult for individuals to obtain or share child pornography with others. This all changed, however, with the advent and spread of the Internet. In this digital age, it is easy for pedophiles to obtain and distribute pornographic images and videos involving children while remaining anonymous.
Despite the present difficulties in locating and prosecuting those who possess child pornography or distribute these images and files to others, law enforcement agencies remain committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting these cases. The U.S. Department of Justice’s website makes this clear, where the Justice Department unequivocally states that child pornography is the sexual exploitation of a child – regardless of how complacent or compliant the child appears to be.
State and federal child pornography laws provide for long prison sentences for individuals convicted of violating these laws, even if the person convicted is a “first time” offender. In addition, the offender may be responsible for paying restitution to the child victim if the child needs therapy or is otherwise mentally or physically injured by the creation or distribution of the images.
Some Defenses Do Not Work in Child Pornography Cases
Defendants charged with child pornography-related offenses may be dismayed to discover that some defenses are not considered valid in a child pornography case, making the task of defending one’s self even more difficult. For example, it is not a defense that:
- The child was over the “age of consent” for sexual activity – any image of a child under the age of 18 years can be considered child pornography;
- The child agreed to having the images taken or sent the images to the offender voluntarily (this would still be considered possession of child pornography);
- The child was not depicted to be engaged in sexual activity – even an image of a naked child can be considered sexually suggestive and thus child pornography; or
- The image was not that of a real child but was rather a digitally-created image (so long as the image appears to depict a real child).
Those charged with child pornography-related offenses may find themselves facing state or federal criminal charges. An aggressive legal defense attacking the government’s evidence and the manner in which it was obtained is the best way to minimize the potential penalties one faces from these charges. Florida criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner possesses the knowledge and skill to provide defendants charged with sex-related offenses (including those alleged to involve minor children) with a strong defense. Contact his office today at (305) 670-9919 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case with attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner.