When you are being investigated for possessing child pornography, your entire future lays in the balance. It may feel like the world is against you, but you are innocent until proven guilty, and you have every right to stand your ground.
There are several defenses against child pornography accusations, any of which could reduce or eliminate the charges against you. Below are some of the common defenses that may apply to your case.
You do not own the content
It may be the case that while you were found in possession of the content, you do not in fact own it, nor did you download it yourself. This could happen if you use a shared work computer or another shared device on which someone else might have downloaded the content. Another person may have even set you up by downloading the content as a way to plant evidence against you.
You did not obtain it knowingly or intentionally
To be convicted, you must have downloaded the content knowingly or intentionally. There are several ways you may unknowingly come to possess child pornography:
- You download a video file for a movie or television show that is mislabeled, and actually contains the illegal content
- You misclick on a website, causing you to download an unknown file containing child pornography
- Your device contains a form of malware that implanted the file on your computer
- You knowingly download pornographic material but did not know the content involved minors
The content is not child pornography
For content to be considered child pornography, it must contain nude depictions or sexually explicit content involving minors. Maryland defines a minor as anyone under the age of 16, while federal law considers anyone under the age of 18 a minor.
In some instances, what may seem like child pornography may actually involve people above the legal age of consent. In other cases, the content may not have any sexually explicit or abusive material at all.
You were a victim of entrapment or an unlawful search and seizure
No matter the case, law enforcement must treat you fairly and uphold your rights as a U.S. citizen. Yet far too often they overstep their boundaries and infringe upon the rights and liberties of those they investigate just so they can make an arrest.
One way this happens in child pornography cases is when police encourage or coerce you to download or purchase the illegal content when you otherwise would not have done so. This is known as entrapment and typically occurs as part of a sting operation in which law enforcement bait people online to click on a child pornography link. They later show up and raid your belongings, taking all the evidence they need to convict you.
Likewise, police may search and seize your property without the necessary permission or search warrants. Both of these behaviors are unlawful and could result in your charges getting dropped entirely.