Child Pornography

Over the last decade child pornography has received as much media attention and scrutiny as violent crimes such as rape, armed robbery and murder.  As a result, defendants that are charged with any offense involving the pornographic depiction of a minor are treated just as harshly, and in some cases much worse than violent criminals by the justice system.  From the second law enforcement receives a tip about a possible child pornography case they will go all out to make an arrest regardless of how reliable the tip may be.  If you or a loved one is being investigated for child porn do not wait until an arrest is made to hire an experienced attorney.  A lawyer can help assure that your rights are protected and that no evidence is illegally obtained or fabricated.  Federal and state law enforcement officers will often conduct search warrants for these cases without any warning, and they will not be courteous when ransacking your house or apartment.  They will then attempt to get statements from all persons with access to the home regardless of whether they have information of wrongdoing.  Do not let the police or the FBI take advantage of you in this critical stage of the case.  Statements are often the most powerful type of evidence that prosecutors will use to build a case, and an attorney can prevent the police from further interrogation.

Generally speaking there are two common types of child pornography charges in Maryland under state law.  The first is possession under section 11-208 of the criminal code.  This law prohibits the possession and retention of a video or picture depicting a child under the age of 16 in a sexual manner or engaging in some sort of sexual conduct.   The law requires that the possession and retention be knowingly, and this can often be an absolute defense to prosecution if not knowledge is not proven.  Possession of child pornography is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison for a first offense, and a felony with a 10-year maximum for any offense thereafter.  As we stated above defendants facing this type of charge will be treated unfairly from the outset, and therefore all defendants should come to court with a lawyer with the experience and determination to fight for the best possible outcome.  A conviction of this offense carries not only the possibility of jail time, but the requirement that the defendant register as a tier one sex offender.  This designation lasts for 15 years and may not be terminated early absent extenuating circumstances.

Maryland law also prohibits the distribution or production of child pornography under section 11-207 of the criminal code.  An important distinction with this law is that it includes all minors, and not just those under the age of 16.  Despite the fact that the age of consent in Maryland is 16 a defendant may be charged with a felony for causing, soliciting or allowing any minor to be filmed or photographed engaging in a sex act or for distributing material with this depiction.  A violation of this law carries a 10-year maximum penalty for a first offense and a potential 20-year sentence for a second offense.  A conviction under 11-207 also carries the potential of a tier two sex offender designation, which could last for 25 years.

Over the last few years we have seen the United States Attorney's Office take on a large amount of child pornography cases in the Baltimore and Greenbelt federal courts using 18 U.S. code 2252A.  This statute includes sections for possessing, transporting, mailing, receiving and distributing child porn.  Simple possession carries a 10-year maximum penalty upon conviction, while other crimes such as distribution carry a 20-year maximum jail sentence with a 5-year mandatory minimum.  The mandatory minimum triples to 15 years for repeat offenders and those with previous convictions for other sex offenses.  The federal child pornography laws are generally tougher than state laws, and must be defended by a lawyer with skill, knowledge and commitment.

For further information contact Benjamin Herbst for a free consultation about your case.  Benjamin has represented numerous individuals charged with sex offenses and he is committed to fighting for all of his client’s rights in state and federal court the minute he is hired.  He also has experience representing those individuals with impulse and addiction disorders that are unable to overcome their desire to download or view child pornography, and has worked with psychologists and counselors to aid in the successful resolution of cases.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Office Phone Number