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Child Pornography and Internet Crimes

Being accused of an internet sex crime – particularly child porn – is extremely serious. This is true in both federal child pornography prosecutions brought by the United States and state child pornography prosecutions brought by the county prosecutor or Attorney General.

Even the association of your name with the phrase “child pornography” can cause you difficulties in personal and professional relationships.

Because society and the internet are so rapidly evolving, the laws regarding these types of crimes are evolving, too. That’s why it’s so important for you to hire a dedicated Michigan defense attorney with experience successfully defending pornography charges when you first hear of any accusations.

What are internet crimes?

Internet crimes are any crimes or illegal activity committed using a computer or an Internet connection. As society spends more time online, these types of charges become more and more common.

In Michigan and in federal courts, using the Internet to commit a crime is considered a separate charge that can be added to the actual crime committed, and this charge alone carries hefty prison sanctions.

Many internet crime charges are sexual in nature, and Shannon Smith is experienced in providing criminal defense to people suffering from these types of charges.

Some of the internet sex crime charges that we can defend you against include:

  • Internet solicitation and prosecution
  • Internet solicitation of a minor
  • Internet child pornography
  • Indecent exposure
  • Lewd behavior

Child pornography crimes

Child pornography is perhaps the most common internet sex crime we come across. It is defined as any visual depiction – images or videos – of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (person under the age of 18).

In Michigan and in federal child pornography cases, there are different types of charges for child pornography that carry different penalties. Many times, a person is charged with more than one type of child pornography charge.

All child pornography convictions, however, lead to the sex offender registry, which can limit your ability to travel, where you can work, where you can live, and even where you exercise – let alone your relationships with family, friends, and society at large.

Types and severity of child pornography crimes:

Anyone in possession of child pornography can be charged with a sex crime. Possessing these types of elicit images in anyway can be a crime, including in:

  • Books

  • Magazines

  • Periodicals

  • Films

  • Videotapes

  • Electronic storage

  • Or via online material, including:

  • Chat rooms

  • File sharing sites

  • Messages

A state child pornography possession charge carries a maximum penalty of 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, in addition to mandatory registration as a Tier 1 sex offender. The sentencing guidelines used in federal courts make the penalties even worse.

Distributing or financing the production of child pornography with the intent to distribute it is a crime with consequences even more serious than possession in both state court and federal court.

A child pornography distribution charge carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 in Michigan. Federal penalties, again, are more severe.

Arranging for, producing, or making child pornography OR persuading, coercing, or causing a child to take part in sexually explicit materials is also a crime.

A child pornography creation or enticement charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Manufacturing child pornography is also a federal crime that carries steep prison sentences with mandatory minimum prison terms.

All of these crimes can be charged even if the person committing the crime is a minor themselves or even is the person depicted in the images or videos. This issue has been seen increasingly with the introduction of “sexting” to society. Learn more about how Shannon Smith can help your son or daughter who has been accused of sexting on our Sexting Defense page.

How law enforcement works in these situations

Law enforcement somehow (often by searching the internet or from a tip) discovers child pornography and uses the IP address to trace it to a specific computer/account holder.

By the time you have been formally charged, you have hopefully already retained a criminal defense attorney, or you are actively looking for one to help you with your defense.

While of course every case and every situation is different, here are some common defense strategies used against these types of charges

Someone else – This defense suggests that, while elicit images or other evidence may have been found in your house or on your computer, someone else used your computer and/or wi-fi connection to obtain them.

Entrapment – Solicitation charges often come from undercover cops posing as minors online, seeking out someone to charge with an internet sex crime. If an officer encourages someone to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed, this would be considered entrapment.

Accidental download – Sometimes when downloading other files (particularly large file downloads or other pornography), images or videos of minors may be included in the download without your knowledge.

NOTE: Not knowing that the person depicted in the images/videos is a minor is not a defense to these types of crimes

The team at Shannon Smith Law is ready to fight for you.

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