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Few crimes carry the stigma that is associated with child pornography. Merely being accused of one of these types of offenses can often make alleged offenders feel as though they are presumed guilty and will need to prove their innocence. Even close friends and family members may become distant.
Despite the frightening possibility of imprisonment and fines that go hand in hand with child pornography charges, it is important for anybody accused of this crime to understand that he or she is entitled to a presumption of innocence and prosecutors still need to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Any one of a number of possible defenses may be raised to help innocent people defeat child pornography charges.
If you believe that you might be under investigation or you were already arrested for any kind of criminal offense related to child pornography in Central Ohio, it is in your best interest to not say anything to authorities without legal representation. Joslyn Law Firm aggressively defends clients all over Licking County, Madison County, Pickaway County, Union County, Delaware County, Fairfield County, and Franklin County.
Columbus criminal defense attorney Brian Joslyn has been ranked one of the 10 best criminal defense lawyers in Ohio by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys and was nominated as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer in the country by the National Trial Lawyers Association. He can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (614) 444-1900 to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.
Whether people are facing state or federal child pornography charges, prosecutors will need to prove that the alleged offenders knowingly sought or possessed the material in question. A majority of pornographic content in these cases was accessed via the internet and alleged offenders may be able to prove that they accidentally downloaded child pornography.
In April 2015, the technology news and information website Ars Technica reported that the FBI infiltrated the home of one man suspected of possessing child pornography. He was later acquitted when it turned out that the 139 illicit images of children he downloaded were mixed into files he downloaded on World War II ordnance.
Forensic experts for both the defense and the prosecution uncovered no evidence that the man in that case ever searched anywhere online for child pornography. "There was no evidence to suggest the defendant intended to possess child pornography," the judge said when acquitting the alleged offender. His lawyer told Ars Technica, "I don't know how you protect yourself from something like this, to tell you the truth."
When people have unsecured wireless networks (Wi-Fi), anybody within the service range can have access to the network. As a result, an innocent person can be charged with downloading child pornography when the actual offense was committed by another offender who was using the Wi-Fi connection without authorization.
In July 2011, the Columbus Dispatch reported that a 27-year-old man used the wireless service of a Clintonville couple to “download thousands of pornographic images of children to his computer.” While federal investigators in that case were able to identify the actual alleged offender without falsely accusing innocent people, not everybody is so lucky.
People who do not password-protect their wireless networks are at risk of having third parties use the connections to access obscene material such as child pornography. In some cases, third parties may also be able to gain access if the passwords are particularly weak.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution establishes the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” When police officers or any other law enforcement agency wants to search the home of a person suspected of child pornography, they generally need to have valid search warrants supported by probable cause.
On April 28, 2015, the Supreme Court of Ohio reversed the Ninth District Court of Appeals’ judgment that affirmed a trial court’s decision to overrule an Ohio man’s motion to suppress evidence taken from his computer that was used to convict him of 10 counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor. In State v. Castagnola, 145 Ohio St.3d 1, 2015-Ohio-1565, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy wrote for the 4-3 majority:
A search cannot depend on mere suspicion. Gates, 462 U.S. at 276, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527. Although in the ordinary case, an officer cannot question a magistrate’s probable-cause determination, this is no ordinary case. Here, the detective did not have a reasonable basis to believe that the warrant was valid. Where a privacy intrusion is based on blatant conjecture that evidence exists on a computer in a residence because of a text-message admission of vandalism, the societal benefits of suppressing the evidence outweigh the societal risks of harm.
The claims listed above are not the only defenses against child pornography charges. Every case is different, so there can often be unique factors to one person’s case that may allow for different defense tactics.
Some of the other defenses that may be employed in child pornography cases include, but are not limited to:
Were you arrested or do you think that you could be under investigation in Central Ohio for any kind of child pornography crime? Do not make any statement to authorities until you have contacted Joslyn Law Firm.
Brian Joslyn is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Columbus who fights to protect the rights of clients all over Franklin County, including Upper Arlington, Westerville, Whitehall, Worthington, Bexley, Dublin, Gahanna, Grove City, Hilliard, Reynoldsburg, and many other nearby communities. Call (614) 444-1900 or fill out an online contact form right now to receive a free consultation that will let our lawyer review your case and discuss all of your legal options.