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Child Pornography Charges in the Digital Age

Posted on in Criminal Defense

computer-crimeIn recent years, law enforcement agencies across the United States and in Wisconsin have relentlessly pursued producers, possessors and distributors of child pornography. Individuals caught and charged with the sexual exploitation of children or possession and/or distribution of child pornography could potentially be prosecuted under state or federal laws, or even both.

Between 1996 and 2005, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that the amount of child pornography and sexual exploitation cases opened by the agency skyrocketed from 114 to 2,402, and arrests related to these charges per year increased from 68 in 1996 to 1,649 in 2005. Within this 10-year period alone, the amount of cases opened and arrests made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation increased over 2,000 percent.

Penalties for Child Pornography

Under federal law, a first time offense of production of child pornography is a felony, which carries a 15-year minimum sentence up to a maximum of 25 years in prison. But a first-time offense of possession of child pornography is a felony and only carries a three-year mandatory minimum, up to a 20-year maximum, while distribution carries a five-year mandatory minimum.  A second offense in either one of these categories of charges essentially doubles the maximum possible sentence. In Wisconsin, possession of child pornography is a class D felony, which carries a maximum 25-year sentence, with a fine up to $100,000, or both. The production of child pornography or the sexual exploitation of children is a Class C felony, which carries a maximum 40-year sentence and up to $100,000 fine, or both.

Penalties for the possession, distribution or production of child pornography are very serious and these types of cases are very complex in nature. If you or someone you know is charged with the possession, distribution or production of child pornography, you should contact a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney.

The Inadvertent Collection of Child Pornography Images

There are certain ways child pornography images could unexpectedly end up on your computer. When you, as an adult internet user, are lawfully observing “adult content” websites and sometimes see websites that display pictures, thumbnails or pop-ups, they may contain child pornography. This means that if you, or someone you know, ever look at lawful images of adult content on the internet, there is a risk that illegal child pornography images will be saved or displayed on your computer.

Hackers have created viruses that collect and store child pornography images on computers without the owner’s knowledge. This allows the hackers to collect child pornography photos on your computer and allows them to view these photographs without consequence. In other cases, allowing someone else to use your computer, or your home Wi-Fi network, could lead law enforcement officers to believe you committed these crimes.

Defending against Child Pornography Charges

If you believe that your computer is infected with a virus that is collecting child pornography, that someone used your computer or computer network to collect child pornography, or if you are facing charges related to child pornography and are unsure of what to do next, you should contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney who is skilled and knowledgeable in this area of the law.

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