Distribution and Possession of Child Pornography in Maryland

The penalties for possessing and distributing internet child pornography in Maryland are getting tougher. Not only do people convicted of these offenses face prison time and steep fines, but they may also be forced to register as sex offenders.

Two Maryland Men Face Heavy Sentences for Keeping Child Pornography

A man from Snow Hill, Maryland, pled guilty in late November to five counts of possession of child pornography. Kirt Greenberg, had originally drawn the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2009. He allegedly invited an undercover agent into an internet chat room, where the agent was able to download over 500 pictures of child pornography. He was subsequently acquitted of all 30 counts.

Greenberg's sentencing judge was unswayed by Greenberg's own history of being a victim of sexual abuse and Asperger's syndrome. Just before Christmas, a Worcester County judge sentenced Greenberg to 20 years in prison. His lengthy prison sentence was due in large part to his prior criminal history, which includes 36 arrests and 13 convictions. After Greenberg is released, he will have to register as a sex offender in Maryland for the next 15 years.

Another victim of childhood sexual abuse, James Connolly, was sentenced in late November to seven years in prison by a federal judge for possession of over 50,000 images and 500 videos of children engaged in sexual acts. In addition to his prison time, Connolly was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and $1,500 in restitution to one victim, which had been identified by the court.

The harsh sentences faced by the men could have been much worse. Greenberg faced as many as 50 years in prison. Connolly could have been forced to serve anywhere from 10 to 20 years.

Maryland Has No Mandatory Sentences for Distribution of Internet Child Pornography

The State of Maryland does not have mandatory sentences for the distribution of internet child pornography, but the consequences of conviction can still be severe. A person who is convicted of possessing child pornography could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison and a $2,500 fine for a first offense. The penalty for distributing child internet pornography is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

The Difference Between a Summons and an Arrest Warrant

Individuals suspected of possession and distribution of internet child pornography can face both state and federal charges. When a state charges a person with a crime, they may issue either a summons or an arrest warrant.

Anyone who receives either a summons or an arrest warrant is likely to be concerned about what each means. Both are issued when law enforcement has decided they have probable cause to believe a person has committed a crime.

The difference between a summons and an arrest warrant is that the summons lets the person know they must appear at a future court date and an arrest warrant means they actually intend to arrest the person. Regardless of whether an individual receives a summons or an arrest warrant, it is important to contact a Maryland internet child pornography attorney right away. With experienced criminal defense representation an individual may be able to avoid arrest.

Federal charges are issued after a federal agency, such as the FBI, has conducted an investigation. Typically, individuals are prosecuted for federal internet child pornography charges if they collection of pornography involves a large number of images.

If a person is charged federally, they will either have the option of entering a pre-indictment plea or be arrested and formally charged by indictment. At that point, they will be scheduled for a detention hearing, where bail will be set.

Burden of Proof in Maryland

In Maryland, state statutes broadly define child pornography as any visual representation, such as photograph or film, of a minor engaged in an obscene act, sadomasochistic abuse or sexual conduct. To be convicted of possession of child pornography, the state must prove that an individual not only knew about the pornographic images in the individual's possession but also intentionally kept them. Similarly, in the case of distribution of child pornography, the state must show that the individual intentionally distributed them.

Because the consequences for internet child pornography crimes are so severe, it is critical to develop an aggressive defense as quickly as possible. If you are facing allegations of possessing or distributing internet child pornography in Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Hartford, Howard, Carroll, Montgomery, Prince George or Washington Counties, you should speak with an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney who has spent years dedicating himself to protecting the rights of people like you.