Child pornography is a crime that deals with some of the harshest and most serious laws that a person can face. Regardless of the specifics of the event or material involved, the first offense is met with heavy punishment, and subsequent offenses result in even harsher criminal sentences.
Lawyers frequently defend charges relating to the possession, distribution, and making of child pornography in Canada. As technology improves, more people are finding themselves charged for child pornography offences under Section 163.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada with things such as:
There are a multitude of questions and concerns that arise from a child pornography charge. Let’s start with the basics.
Child pornography is a form of child sexual exploitation. Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (persons less than 18 years old). Images of child pornography are also referred to as child sexual abuse images. Child pornography is sometimes called “child sexual abuse images” because it is images (pictures) of a child who is being sexually abused. Child pornography can be made by setting up a camera or other recording device and molesting a child.
Child pornography is material that visually depicts sexual conduct by children, and is unprotected by the First Amendment even when it is not legally obscene. Federal statutes, in addition to making it a crime to transport or receive child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce, prohibit, among other things, the use of a minor in producing pornography, and provide for criminal and civil forfeiture of real and personal property used in making child pornography, and of the profits of child pornography.
It considers at what age a person is “a child”, what types of material should be considered as pornography and what it is about material that makes it child pornography.
In Canada, the production or distribution of obscene materials is prohibited. It is also an offence to knowingly sell or expose to public view, or to possess for such purposes, obscene materials. A related provision in the Criminal Code makes it an offence to make, publish, distribute or possess child pornography, subject to certain limited exceptions. This means that a person who visits a website which contains child pornography and views it on his or her computer may be guilty of a criminal offence because a copy of the images may be left on the computer’s hard drive.
The specific kind of charge varies depending on the situation and severity of violation. Not all cases are charged as federal cases; however, all cases involving the internet will be covered under federal law. States may file charges against a suspect in addition to federal charges.
Penalties for child pornography offenses are shockingly high: in federal cases, prison time is the norm, even in cases of mere possession. Federal cases involving receipt or distribution of child pornography for example, emailing a single image to an undercover agent, carry a mandatory minimum five-year sentence in federal prison. Maximum sentences range from twenty years to life imprisonment. Lifelong sex offender registration almost always follows a conviction for possession of child porn.
If you’ve been convicted of a child pornography-related crime, either federal or state, your sentence will likely include mandatory sex offender registration. This means that your photo, address, and other information will appear in a database for monitoring and tracking sex offenders.
The punishment for a child pornography offence depends on which offence you have been convicted of. If you are found guilty of making or distributing child pornography, you are guilty of committing an indictable offence with a mandatory minimum of one year in jail and a maximum of 14 years.Possession of Child Pornography is an extremely serious crime in Canada. In fact, in 2005 the Canadian Government amended the law to impose mandatory minimum jail sentences for any person convicted under this section regardless of age or circumstances.
If you are accused of possessing, distributing or producing child pornography, no one can tell you from the outset whether you will go to prison, or for how long. You should immediately consult with an attorney experienced in defending child pornography cases.
The most obvious defense to these charges is that the person depicted in the film or image is not a minor. We have consulted with pediatricians and other medical experts to review images to show that the person being depicted may very well be 18 years old.
It is a strange fact that federal law criminalizes the possession of a nude picture of someone who is 17 years old, especially in states where 17-year-old people are legally able to consent to sexual intercourse. While in many states it is perfectly legal to have a sexual relationship with someone who is 17 years old, possessing a nude picture of that 17 year old is a violation of federal law and will result in prison time.
An accused person can only discharge the requirement by showing what steps he took and that those steps were all that could be reasonably required of him in the circumstances. It is not sufficient to state that further enquiries were not made because they would open the accused to ridicule, embarrassment or rejection.
Whether prosecuted under federal or state law, violating child pornography laws often leads to heavy prison sentences. If you’ve been accused of child pornography, don’t waste any time before retaining an experienced attorney to protect your legal rights, help you establish a defense, and preserve evidence that may benefit your case. Contact a criminal defense lawyer near you today.
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