Child pornography involves the most vulnerable victims in our society – children. In order to deter conduct harmful to children, the penalties associated with child pornography in all forms are severe. If you have been accused of possessing, distributing, creating, soliciting or engaging with child pornography in any way (all felony charges) you should immediately consult an experienced Virginia child pornography lawyer.
Producing Child Pornography
Under Virginia Code 18.2-374.1, there are four main ways a person can be guilty of producing child pornography. The first involves soliciting a child to participate in child pornography. Solicitation turns only on whether a person requests or suggests that a victim participate in child pornography. It does not matter if the victim never agrees, or if no photographs are ever taken, or if the child in question does not really even exist.
If a person in an internet chat room, for instance, messages an undercover police officer who he believes is a minor and requests inappropriate photos, that person has committed the felony of producing child pornography.
Creating Child Pornography
The second way a person can commit the felony of child pornography production includes making, preparing or attempting to make the pornography. Buying camera equipment with the intent to use it in the production of child pornography, or trying to snap a photo in a changing room but leaving the lens cap on would both count as production of child pornography, even if no pictures were created.
Participating in Child Pornography
The third prong of child pornography production involves knowingly participating in the creation of the pornography. Even the subject of the pornography can be charged with this felony, if he or she was involved in the filming or photography. With such delicate distinctions to be made, it helps to have a Virginia child pornography lawyer at your side to help you sort through the nuances and carefully build your defense.
Financing Child Pornography
Finally, financing or attempting to finance child pornography is the last way a person can be convicted of child pornography production. This could involve buying camera equipment or loaning money with the knowledge of what it may be used for, allowing a friend to use your computer, phone, or camera, or even asking to borrow money or equipment with the intent to use it to photograph or film an underage person.
Possession of Child Pornography
Possession of child pornography involves having access to the pornography in any way. Viewing images online without downloading them, having a picture on your phone that was texted to you by a third party, or opening an email attachment with a photo depicting an underage person would all count as possession. Even if the photos or videos are deleted from a phone or computer, they are likely still accessible by a computer forensic analyst. Just because you thought a picture was deleted or didn’t realize you had access to it does not prevent you from being convicted of possession.
Distribution of Child Pornography
Transmitting child pornography in any way is considered distribution. Downloading a picture or video, saving it to your phone, emailing it to yourself or anyone else, forwarding a text or email, taking a picture of a picture, posting an image online, printing or even photocopying could count as distribution. It does not matter if someone distributes the pornography to other people, or only keeps it for themselves. Simply allowing another person to view a picture you are in possession of is considered distribution.
If you have not been charged for any of the above child pornography offenses but believe you may be under investigation, securing the services of a Virginia child pornography lawyer as quickly as possible is in your best interest. The earlier you retain a defense attorney, the sooner he or she can begin working with you to develop a defense plan custom-tailored to your unique needs and circumstances.
The penalties for production of child pornography depend on how old the minor is and how many years older than the child the person accused is. If a minor is older than 15, the prison term is between 1-20 years, but if the accused is more than 7 years older than the minor, the penalty is 5-30 years in prison. If the child is younger than 15, the prison term 5-30 years, but if the accused is more than 7 years older than the child, the prison term is 15-40 years. Second offenses carry increasingly severe penalties.
Possessing child pornography carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison for a first offense and 10 years for a second offense. Distributing child pornography carries a prison sentence of 5 to 20 years. With such severe penalties, not to mention the social stigma associated with a conviction, it is prudent to consult a Virginia child pornography lawyer before facing a court of law.
Under Virginia law, each child pornography image can be treated as a separate count, and each count carries individual penalties. Even with the minimum penalties imposed, a person accused of producing, possessing and/or distributing multiple images of child pornography could be looking at a cumulative sentence of life in prison.
Virginia Child Pornography Attorney
Many people who are accused of child pornography never intended to exploit a child. Sexting teenagers, friends and even parents can sometimes get involved in activity that they did not realize is considered child pornography under the law. If you or your child has been accused of child pornography, it is important to contact an experienced Virginia child pornography lawyer right away.