Child Pornography Lawyer
There are two main components of the Maryland child pornography law, with the most common being section 11-208 of the indecency and obscenity code. This section makes it illegal to intentionally possess any image or video depicting a person under the age of 16 years old engaged in sexual conduct or in a sexual state. While a first violation of this offense is classified as a misdemeanor with a five-year maximum jail sentence, there are often multiple counts involved in these cases. The state can charge a person for each individual picture or video, and the sentences on these counts can be imposed consecutive to each other. In addition a conviction for possession of child pornography could trigger mandatory registration as a tier one-sex offender, which lasts for 15 years. A second offense increases the maximum punishment to a 10-year felony, but the sex offender tier remains the same. Regardless of the statutory punishments there are still some tactics that a lawyer can use to protect defendants charged with child pornography, and knowing how to navigate around the law is key to a fair resolution of the case. The Maryland sentencing guidelines classify possession of child pornography as a level 5 offense, which means a first time offender will score probation at the bottom of the guidelines. In addition, the probation before judgment statute does not exclude child pornography cases, and a defendant may not have to register if he or she is granted PBJ. On the other hand, the judge may grant PBJ and order that the defendant register as a condition of probation, which is why it is imperative to be thoroughly prepared to argue against the registry requirement.
Section 11-207 is the felony version of the child pornography statute, and it deals with the production or distribution. Distribution of child pornography has a very broad definition, and can encompass any type of file sharing with another person. In many cases the defendant did not even intentionally share his or her files, but simply made them available. Distribution does not require an exchange of any type of compensation, and law enforcement is always looking for ways to charge this offense along with possession, as it is a felony with a 10-year maximum penalty and requires tier two sex offender registration for 25 years.
There are number of ways that law enforcement can initiate investigations in child pornography cases. Some law enforcement agencies will assign detectives to pose as anonymous collectors or distributors of the material, and then apply for search warrants after they locate an IP address linked to child pornography. Other times the network providers will provide information to law enforcement officers and an investigation will begin. Either way, it is imperative to retain a lawyer immediately so your 5th Amendment right to remain silent is protected. Law enforcement often receives strong incriminating evidence straight from the defendant, and this can put the defense in a less than desirable negotiating position. If you are charged or are being investigated there is no need to take on the government alone. Call Maryland child pornography lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime at 410-207-2598 for a free consultation.