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Child pornography charges require substantial evidence

Possession of child pornography is a serious charge, and being indicted on a related charge can be life-altering. However, an indictment is only a finding of probable cause and the government must present a much higher level of evidence to obtain a conviction.

One Maryland man was recently indicted on 11 federal counts of possession of child pornography. According to the FBI, an agent in Oklahoma was monitoring a file-sharing network when they detected a person sharing child pornography. The FBI alerted their Baltimore office, which continued to monitor the activity.

As a result of this monitoring, the FBI was able to obtain a search warrant for the man's residence. There, the FBI says it recovered digital media and photographs depicting children involved in various sexual activities. The bureau says these images were analyzed before the man was indicted and an arrest warrant was issued.

Although the man is being held without bail, the government has many steps to take before he could be convicted. Probable cause, the standard for an indictment, only means that a reasonable person could construe the evidence available to support the charges. To obtain a conviction, the government must show beyond a reasonable doubt that all elements of the crime were met.

While some people might see this as an open-and-shut case, there are defense avenues available to someone in this sort of situation. There have been many cases where files are accidentally downloaded either due to mislabeling or to some sort of malware. Anyone accused of possessing child pornography is entitled to have a jury hear these and other defenses.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Bel Air man arrested on 11 counts of possessing child pornography," Krishana Davis, Jan. 11, 2014

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