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Understanding DC Federal Child Pornography Charges

Understanding DC federal child pornography charges are crucial for defendants. If you have been charged with a child pornography offense, you should seek the services of a dedicated defense attorney. A seasoned child pornography lawyer will have experience in these cases and could fight to protect your rights. Call today to learn more about your charges and how a well-versed legal professional could help you.

Scenarios Leading to a Child Pornography Charge

There are several scenarios under which a person could be charged with child pornography. Usually, law enforcement such as the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security receives a cyber tip from the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). When the law enforcement agency receives the information, they follow up with subpoenas to establish the location of images believed to be child pornography that is being downloaded or uploaded onto the Internet.

The other common scenario is law enforcement monitoring a chat room or other areas of the Internet. A sting or undercover operation could be used in these chat rooms to find those in possession of child pornography. They follow up with administrative subpoenas or search warrants for someone’s home that includes their electronic devices.

Does Child Pornography Have to be a Photo or Video?

The definition of an image that is required under the law excludes images that are not real people. For a person to be charged with possession or receipt of child pornography, the image must be of a child defined as a minor, someone under 18 years of age. The image must be an actual child. It cannot be a computer simulation, drawing, or sculpture.

The Intent in Child Pornography Cases

A person cannot be charged with possession of child pornography or receipt of child pornography for inadvertently seeing something on the Internet. However, someone could be charged with access with intent to view child pornography if there are allegations that they signed onto a website or accessed a website that specifically contains child pornography.

The best example of that is when the FBI took over a site called “Play Tent” that was dedicated to hosting and distributing images of child pornography. The FBI charged people who visited the website with the charge of accessing with intent to view child pornography.

That is a somewhat rare case because the government was able to tie people to a specific website and had proof of them accessing it. It is much more difficult in general to prove access with intent to view child pornography. The most common charges are a receipt or possessing child pornography, which means that images of child pornography are found on someone’s electronic devices indicating a download.

Issue of Possession in Child Pornography Cases

In order to possess something, whether it is child pornography, drugs, or firearms, the government must prove the individual had knowledge of it. They had the intent to exert control over it.

To do this, the government executes a search warrant on a person’s home and searches their electronic devices. If the search on electronic devices produces images of child pornography on an electronic device, the government may show through surrounding circumstances that a person had knowledge of the images, intended for those images to be there, and intended to exert control over them.

In the context of a child pornography case, the number of images is crucial. If only one image of child pornography is found along with thousands of other downloaded images, the likelihood of being prosecuted for possession of child pornography is relatively small. A strong defense could be made that person accidentally downloaded the image by emphasizing the discrepancy between the single image of child pornography and the other images.

Contact an accomplished lawyer for help with understanding DC federal child pornography charges and how a legal professional could be beneficial to you.

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