Monder Law Group - News
Why Did Former Subway Guy Jared Fogle Plead Guilty to Child Pornography?
If you have charges associated with child pornography, you are going to want to know how to overcome them. If you searched online “how to beat child pornography charges” or “how to get not guilty on child pornography” you likely wanted to read that it was an easy task. Unfortunately, it is no easy feat.
The statistics are there: around 90% of people charged with federal crimes plead guilty and take a plea deal. That includes charges concerning child pornography. And if you decide to go to trial, a vast amount of defendants are convicted.
Decisions in the court’s past has shown there is no difference between possessing child pornography and receiving child pornography. However, the minimum sentence for receiving child pornography is 5 years while possessing child pornography has no minimum. Having child pornography on a computer also increases the charges.
First, let’s define what child pornography is. Child pornography is any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. Possessing child pornography is defined by the following: a person must knowingly possess images of child pornography that is linked to interstate commerce. The Department of Justice can prosecute a U.S. citizen across state and international borders when the charges involve child pornography. The prosecutor must prove those elements to be true in order for a jury to rule guilty on the case.
A popular defense is that the accused did not know what he or she was doing on the computer and is incompetent with computers. This can be argued especially well if there are only a few images, or they are stored in an unusual way that would suggest it was unintentional. Don’t purposefully change the way it is stored to prepare for a defense like this. Law enforcement can track the trail the file moved throughout the computer, so moving the file around intentionally would actually hurt this defense strategy.
The hardest part is that the government must prove that child pornography images were downloaded intentionally. For example, if the defendant googled “child pornography”, visited known child pornography sites, and downloaded images, it would be hard to argue that it was unintentional. But if the defendant clicked a link in an email that had no indication of child pornography, and the body of the email had no connection to child pornography, it is a much more effective defense to utilize.
The government also has to prove that the images contain children. There are few defenses in this realm of the case. The government tends to be very sophisticated when verifying the age of the people in pictures.
The last element in proving a defendant guilty is important to consider a well. The government must prove that the images are associated with interstate commerce. The courts may forget to prove this vital point. In this Iowa case, the courts were able to prove everything but the interstate commerce element. So, the defendant appealed the initial conviction and ultimately won the appeal.
Despite the Iowa case above, these situations happen rarely. The huge majority of child pornography defendants are convicted. It requires a huge amount of legal effort and diligence to prepare a proper defense, and more likely than not, this effort will be put towards the quality of the plea deal the prosecutor gives you. And if the photos are sent again and the people associated with the photos exponentially increases, all participating parties are liable for charges on child pornography.
What if a minor sends sexually explicit content of themselves? The state can prosecute a minor for sending sexually explicit images via text, social media, internet, etc. There is no exemption in the laws concerning child pornography. If a minor sends a sexually explicit image to another person, including a minor, they are now both subject to prosecution.
However, there is a grey area in the modern age of what possession of child pornography is with sites like Facebook that cache large amounts of files, and the auto deleting service Snapchat, where downloading is not necessary. Viewing the images online; however, still constitutes criminal activity. Many states are quickly reforming the laws to compensate for this. Loopholes that were once used with newly emerging social media sites are closing fast. Minors can no longer be concerned solely about parental and academic consequences of their actions. The must also be concerned with the legal implications of their actions.
While these defenses may be effective, it is far too complicated to approach yourself. The most important thing is to find a lawyer that can do this for you. A good lawyer is able to customize the perfect defense based on an individual’s circumstances in order minimize any punishment charged, or possibly get a “not guilty” verdict. A lawyer who is very experienced with cases involving child pornography with a history of great plea deals and “not guilty” verdicts will be key in ensuring your best possible outcome.