Evidence in DC Federal Child Pornography Cases


If you have questions about evidence in a DC federal child pornography case, criminal defenders from Scrofano Law PC can help you find answers. Call us today!

DC Child Pornography Investigation


Child pornography is a serious offense. It refers to any pornographic content that features a minor. The creation, dissemination, importation, receipt, or ownership of any child pornographic material is illegal under federal law.

According to the United States Sentencing Commission report, although child pornography production cases comprise a small percentage of the federal caseload, the expansion of mobile and digital technology has contributed to an increase in the number of offenders who produce and distribute online child sexual abuse material.

Those found guilty of breaking federal child pornography laws could face heavy prison sentences, fines, and statutory repercussions. Ultimately, your punishment will depend on the evidence against you in the child pornography case.


What Makes Child Pornography a Federal Case?


There is usually a federal charge for child pornography since federal crimes involve any crime that crosses state lines. Child pornography is commonly distributed online. The term “crossing state lines” was previously used only physically (i.e., physically crossing something across state lines). Today, it includes moving something across state lines digitally.

As such, child porn is considered a federal crime because it can spread widely over the internet. However, state prosecutors can also charge a person with child porn when it occurs within the state.

The federal and state governments have passed many statutes outlawing child sexual abuse as well as laws intended to protect children from being engaged in sexually explicit conduct or seeing pornography images. So, those charged with these crimes can be charged in both federal and state court for the same crime. Both governments, the state government and the United States government, have the right to pursue charges if an individual breaks the law in each government.

Consult a federal criminal lawyer if you are facing child pornography charges in a state or federal court. Regardless of the direct evidence available, an experienced lawyer will help you get the most favorable outcome for your case.

Child Pornography Case


Investigations of child sexual abuse are typically led by the state police, with the assistance of the state agencies, such as Homeland Security Investigations. Sometimes, special task forces for crimes against children can also be included. Certain organizations, such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), can receive reports of suspected child sexual exploitation, which can also result in authorities initiating an investigation.

The criminal intent of the offender can be proven by having child pornographic material on a computer or access to images of it. However, a lawyer may use the same evidence to argue that the defendant did not knowingly seek to download the material in question.

In today’s digital world, data is often embedded with malicious malware, such as computer viruses, which can come from unsolicited pornographic videos and images. Digitally sent data presents the risk of accidental or unwitting exposure to child pornographic images.

Does Viewing Child Pornographic Images Count as Possessing?

Possessing is the same as viewing. Some gray areas, such as streaming and link possession, may be challenging to prove guilt. Generally, possessing child sexual abuse material entails having internet or deleted files, accidental viewing, or downloading pornographic images.

What Does Receipt of Pornography Mean?

Receipt of pornography means a person was knowingly receiving materials with pornographic content. If you are convicted of child pornography receipt, you face a jail term of five years to twenty years.

What Is Accessing Child Pornography With Intent to View?

“Accessing child pornography with intent to view” means actively seeking out child pornography to view it. One instance of accessing child pornography with intent to view is when you intentionally log into a website containing child pornography.

Evidence in a Child Pornography Case


In a child pornography case, there must be sufficient evidence that the accused had knowledge, control, and dominion. This means that the prosecutor must show that you could have avoided having child pornographic material. Get in touch with a skilled DC child pornography lawyer for more information on this.

The most important aspects of a child pornography case include the following:


Constitutional Issues in Investigations

Concerns over the Fourth and Fifth Amendments regarding statements made to law enforcement frequently surface in child pornography investigations. Since cell phones retain so much data about a person’s life, privacy has become a significant concern. Mobile devices save a lot of personal data, including essential financial and travel-related information. While there are some exceptions, the Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement must obtain search warrants before searching someone’s phone.


Highly Contested Elements of Child Pornography Cases

One of the most contentious issues is whether law enforcement legally obtained the evidence discovered on the suspect’s computer, electronic media, or other devices. Unless you catch someone in the act of downloading child pornography, the issue of who had access to that particular device when viewing or downloading those materials can be contested.

If you’ve been accused of child pornography possession, a DC sex crimes lawyer can help you fight the charges and possibly prevent a child pornography conviction.

How Does a Child Pornography Investigation Work?


After obtaining a search warrant and discovering digital evidence, law enforcement officials will examine suspects. They will study the evidence to find out the following:

  • Who owns it?
  • Does it have a password?
  • Did any other users have access to it when it was seized?

Knowing who had access to which electronic devices during a federal child pornography investigation is crucial for the defense. The case may even turn on the identities of those with access to a particular Wi-Fi network.

For example, if an image is discovered on a shared computer, the attorney can determine the time and frequency of downloads to verify the client’s whereabouts during the downloads and establish an alibi.

Constitutional Issues in Investigations


Whether there’s probable cause to search a computer and what areas or data were searched can be called into question when a federal investigation involving child porn occurs. If you have been accused of child pornography, a court order or search warrant may be acquired to access your devices for child pornography activity. Prosecutors will examine your image gallery, videos, downloads, sent videos and deleted files.

Although each case is unique, child pornography investigations usually last between 6 to 12 months. First, government officials find child porn on a computer with a specific IP address. This period involves the identification of the address and its subscriber and conducting searches related to that address. It will also include case filing.


Consult an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney


The penalties for federal child pornography offenses can be severe. A person guilty of possessing child pornography faces ten to twenty years in jail if the child in the pornographic image is younger than twelve.

A conviction for the distribution or receipt of child pornography carries a possible five- to a twenty-year prison sentence. Those with a criminal history may face significantly longer penalties.

In addition to paying restitution to the victim(s), offenders may be subject to monetary fines. A federal court conviction for child pornography will also result in being registered as a sex offender.

If you are charged or being investigated for child pornography, seek the counsel of the attorneys at Scrofano Law. We understand that child porn cases can be traced back to several sources. Our reputable and experienced DC federal child enticement lawyer can use their skills and knowledge of federal investigation procedures to build a solid defense for your case. Contact us today.


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