Orange County Criminal Defense
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California Child Pornography Attorneys

Child Pornography involves the possession, use or distribution of obscene or sexually explicit material involving children under 18. Basically, child pornography consists of pictures or videos of nude children and/or children in sexual acts. It is illegal to possess or distribute child pornography under both federal law and California state law. In California, Penal Code sections 311 et seq govern the possession and distribution of child pornography. Some of the crimes are wobblers, but many of these crimes are felonies. However, even misdemeanor child pornography is a serious crime because a conviction requires lifetime registration as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code section 290.

Elements of Child Pornography Charge

In order to prove the crime of child pornography, the District Attorney must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant possessed obscene matter; AND
  2. The defendant knew the character of the matter; AND
  3. The defendant knew the matter showed a person under the age of 18 years was personally participating in or simulating sexual conduct.

Under California Penal Code section 311, matter is obscene if when considered as a whole:

  • It shows or describes sexual conduct in an obviously offensive way; AND
  • A reasonable person would conclude that it lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value; AND
  • An average adult person, applying contemporary statewide standards, would conclude it appeals to a prurient interest.

Matter can mean almost anything but usually refers to a picture or video.

The average adult person is a hypothetical person who represents the entire community, including both men and women; religious and nonreligious people; and adults of varying ages, educational and economic levels, races, ethnicities, and points of view.

A prurient interest is a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex, or excretion.

The contemporary statewide standard means what is acceptable to the statewide community as a whole, not what some person or persons may believe the community ought to accept.
The depiction of nudity or sexual activity, by itself, does not make matter obscene. In order for matter containing nudity or sexual activity to be obscene, it must meet the requirements for obscenity listed above.

Sexting Can be Child Pornography

According to Wikipedia, sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones. Sexting that involves teenagers sending explicit photographs of themselves or their partners has led to charges of child pornography. Teenagers who send pictures can be charged with distribution of child pornography, and those who receive such pictures can be charged with possession of child pornography. Sexting with messages only will not violate laws regarding child pornography, but may violate other laws.

Defenses to Child Pornography

There are few defenses to child pornography, but the biggest challenge facing defense attorneys is that the nature of the material is so offensive that many jurors will not give defendants a fair trial. However, one defense is that f the prosecution cannot prove the people in the picture are under the age of 18, then a crime has not occurred.

Another defense is to show that the children in the pictures are not real. Digitized images, no matter how real they look, are not actual children and child pornography is a crime only if it involves actual children.

Another defense to child pornography is to prove that the images had literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Child Pornography Sentencing

Child Pornography charges are taken very seriously by the District Attorney`s office. While at the District Attorney`s office, Fred Thiagarajah prosecuted child pornography cases. He knows from experience that most child pornography is downloaded from the internet and that law enforcement catch child pornographers by taking apart their computers and finding out who they've shared files with over the internet. The District Attorney`s office will charge these crimes in an aggressive manner, often filing a charge for each picture. With thousands of pictures on a person`s computer, people who possess child pornography could easily face of hundreds of charges. If you possess child pornography or have questions regarding this crime, consult an experienced California child pornography lawyer from our Newport Beach law firm.

There are several crimes that relate to child pornography, but most of them are wobblers. However, distribution of child pornography for commercial purposes is a felony with a maximum sentence of 6 years state prison. The most drastic penalty for child pornography is sex offender registration pursuant to Penal Code section 290.

Other Consequences

Not only can a child pornography conviction lead to criminal penalties, but it can also have drastic employment, licensing and immigration consequences. A crime of child pornography is considered a crime of moral turpitude. Having a child pornography conviction can prevent a person from finding a job or lead to a person being fired from their current job. Furthermore, many professions that require licensing from a state board, such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, contractors, teachers, real estate agents and stock brokers, all require background checks. A professional who has a child pornography conviction on their record risks losing their professional license, or never acquiring it in the first place. Perhaps the most severe impact of a child pornography conviction involves immigration consequences. Non-citizens who are permanent residents or temporary visitors with a visa, can be denied admission, denied naturalization or even deported, with a child pornography conviction on their record. In fact, child pornography convictions are considered one of the worst convictions for immigration consequences.

The Right Lawyers

Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing a child pornography charge. Many people who face child pornography charges are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment. There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of child pornography, based on a misunderstanding or false evidence. You need an attorney who will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly, who will negotiate with the judge and the District Attorney’s office skillfully, and who will fight in trial aggressively. You need attorney Fred Thiagarajah.

All of our attorneys have either worked at the District Attorney’s Office or the Public Defender’s Office. Whether it’s negotiation or trial, our attorneys have the training and experience to get the best results for our clients on their criminal cases and their immigration consequences. Our attorneys have worked in the Sexual Assault unit of the District Attorney’s Office and use their specialized knowledge of sex crimes to defend our clients, including those accused of child pornography possession. For an example of our work, please see our case results and read our client testimonials. With offices in Newport Beach, Long Beach, Murrieta, Riverside and Rancho Cucamonga, our team of attorneys have the right criminal defense experience in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

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