Maryland soldier convicted of child pornography distribution

Anybody who has spent time in the armed forces knows that military life is significantly different from civilian life in a number of respects. This is especially true when it comes to situations where members of the military are charged with crimes. In addition to civilian prosecutions, members of the armed forces may also face prosecutions within the military justice system.

Recently, military officials have been cracking down on suspected child pornography offenses. If the soldier is convicted, the penalties can be significant.

An illustrative example of the consequences of a military child pornography conviction lies in the recent case of a Maryland airman who was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of distributing child pornography. Once the airman is released from prison, he will have to spend another 10 years under supervised release. He will also be required to register as a sex offender pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

The airman was identified during an undercover Maryland State Police operation targeting individuals who used file-sharing programs to distribute pornographic images and videos of underage subjects. Authorities say they downloaded 23 such files from the airman's account.

After downloading the files, authorities searched the airman's dormitory room and computers, where they found additional pornographic files. The airman ultimately admitted to using the internet to receive and distribute child pornography.

Military cracking down on child pornography

Just like civilian law enforcement departments, military officials have been focusing on rooting out individuals suspected of distributing child pornography. This is true both on bases within the United States and overseas.

The pursuit of these individuals has been aided by new technology and a partnership between several agencies including the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Criminal Forensic Lab. The technology allows these agencies to flag suspected child pornography websites and then track the IP address back to the person who accessed the site. In most cases, military investigators can recover evidence even if the suspect deletes the files from his or her computer.

Service members who are convicted of downloading or viewing Internet child pornography can be dishonorably discharged and can be confined in a military prison for up to 10 years on each charge. They will also lose their right to future Veterans Association benefits. Depending on the circumstances of the case, civilian employees on overseas bases will either be transferred to the United States for prosecution or referred to a local law enforcement agency in the country where they are stationed.

Given these significant penalties, service members and military staff who are accused of crimes involving child pornography need to take the allegations seriously. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help you protect your rights.