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Did you Accidentally Download Child Pornography?

Sexual crimes not only carry extremely serious penalties, but they also carry an intense social stigma. While all criminal defendants are innocent until the prosecution has proven each and every necessary element employers, the media, and the court of public opinion routinely fail to respect these rights in light of serious charges. Unfortunately, these are merely the informal consequences of child pornography allegations. Upon conviction, the defendant faces the imposition of a lengthy prison sentence and decades of mandatory registration as a sex offender.

However, child porn charges are never the open and shut cases that the media and internet commentators would lead on to believe. There are many ways an innocent individual can come to face child pornography charges due to malicious intent or a simple error. The experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorneys of the law Firm of John J. Zarych can stand-up for those accused of a serious crime like possession of child pornography due to alleged digital downloads.

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CHILD PORN CHARGES CAN ARISE THROUGH ERROR OR MALICIOUS HACKERS

The truth of the matter is that a single click of the mouse can have life-altering consequences. This is because an individual’s intent in downloading or opening a child porn image is not taken into consideration. That is, clicking on an image of child pornography maliciously uploaded to an otherwise legitimate and legal website can be all it takes to face child pornography charges. Of course, this is merely one way child pornography charges can arise against an individual who never intended to break the law. In other circumstances, a likely malicious, file-sharing user can share misnamed or mislabeled images containing sexually suggestive or explicit images of children. The downloader may think that he or she is downloading a book, movie, song, or other legitimate file. But, when the user goes to open the file, they are shocked to find that the file actually contains illegal and unethical images.

Aside from these scenarios, any individual with remote or physical access to a computer can, theoretically, plant illegal child pornography on a computer and then provide police with an anonymous tip. Remote access simply means that the individual is able to connect to your computer over the internet – a fairly trivial task for many experienced computer users. Physical access means that the individual can access and use your computer in-person. While such behavior is relatively rare, it is not unheard of. Such misguided actions can occur in emotionally difficult disputes such as a child custody battle following the end of a marriage or as a reprisal following extramarital relations.

STATE-BASED CRIMINAL CHARGES FOR CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

New Jersey law considers any person under age 16 to be a child. Under NJSA 2C:24-4b, a collection of actions relating to the possession and production of pornographic images featuring or depicting children are criminalized. New Jersey law defines the photographing or filming of a child engaged in a sexual act a second-degree crime. Sexual acts include a range of sexual behavior and sexual acts. Furthermore, mere nudity of the child when the nudity is intended for the sexual stimulation or gratification of the viewer is also considered child pornography.

Aside from the possession charges, the actual act of producing the image or video is, itself, a second-degree crime. If the individual decides to distribute or disseminate the image, such act is another separate crime.  However if the person who allowed or engaged in these acts was the child’s parent, guardian, or caregiver the crimes are enhanced to first-degree crimes. The mere possession of the image, which includes its viewing, is considered a fourth-degree crime.

POTENTIAL FEDERAL CHARGES DUE TO CHILD PORN ALLEGATIONS

Federal criminal charges can also be advanced due to acts and behavior of this nature. Images of child pornography are not protected speech and are not protected by the First Amendment. Under 18 USC §2256 child pornography is defined as, “any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor.” While federal law does not explicitly define a minor, individuals who have not reached age 18 are considered a minor and the state’s age of consent laws are not a defense to this federal charge. Federal law criminalizes the production, distribution, receipt, or possession with intent to distribute of any image, video or depiction of a child engaging in sex acts. Visual depictions can even include drawings or cartoons.

FACING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES IN NEW JERSEY?

Child pornography charges carry harsh formal and informal penalties. If you are facing child porn charges due to an error or due to the malicious actions of another person, the experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorneys of the Law Firm of John J. Zarych can fight for you. To schedule a free, confidential criminal defense consultation, call (609) 616-4956 or contact us online today.