For those that are under investigation for child pornography charges, a lot of questions can come to mind that need answering quickly in order to know what to do next. With the development and expansion of technological advancements with computers, phones, and tablets along with the increasing availability of faster internet in more areas of the United States accessing child pornography has never been easier. However, some people under investigation or currently being charged with viewing or possessing child pornography have done so unwittingly.
The attorneys at Cofer Luster Law Firm, P.C. represent people that are under investigation or being charged with the receipt, possession, and distribution of child pornography. We’ve put together a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding child pornography cases to guide you into making an informed decision. Please note that we always recommend contacting our law firm immediately as soon as you find out that you are being investigated for child pornography.
What is child pornography?
Child pornography is a serious federal crime defined by federal law as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (a person under 18 years old). Child pornography charges can result in very severe punishments if convicted. These cases are prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office. Most often, the investigation is conducted by Homeland Security; however, other federal (i.e. FBI) or state law enforcement agencies can begin or facilitate the investigation. You may have heard the term lascivious exhibition, which differs from child pornography on 6 key points. To fully understand the difference, be sure to read our article on Child Pornography vs. Lascivious Exhibition.
Is child pornography a state or federal crime?
Both. There are multiple offenses in both Texas state and Federal courts for child pornography charges. It’s possible to be charged by the state of Texas, Federal court, or both. When identifying an attorney to help you with your case, it is wise to retain a firm like Cofer Luster Law Firm, P.C. that has experience handling child pornography cases in both state and federal court that can defend you in either jurisdiction.
Federal Crime: Title 18
Federal Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252(a)(2), makes it a crime to knowingly receive, distribute, or reproduce for distribution any visual depiction of a minor engaging in a sexually explicit conduct.
Texas Penal Code: Title 5
Texas Penal Code Section 21.15 states that it is against the law in the State of Texas to “knowingly or intentionally possesses visual material that visually depicts a child younger than 18 years of age engaging in sexual conduct” as defined in Texas Penal Code section 43.25(a)(2).
What are the punishments for child pornography?
To summarize, the punishment for child pornography can be anywhere from 5 to 20 years. In a recent article, we covered the punishments for child pornography convictions as well as what you should do when you are under investigation for child pornography. If you’ve been charged with the possession, receipt, distribution, or of knowingly possessing child pornography, then you should hire the Child Pornography Defense Trial Lawyers of Texas at Cofer Luster Law Firm, P.C.
What do I do if I accidentally viewed or downloaded child pornography?
If you have accidentally viewed or downloaded child pornography, you should contact an attorney immediately. State and federal statutes criminalizing child pornography in Texas do benefit those that self-report in very limited circumstances. Do not ever rely on this defense without speaking to a criminal defense attorney. The following things are taken into consideration when defending receipt or possession of child pornography charges:
- How long did you spend on the website with the pornographic material?
- Did you distribute the child pornography in any way including via links, file sharing, or downloads?
- Was the content being accessed by the owner of the personal computer, or was someone else using it?
- Was there anyone else living in your home or apartment?
The attorneys at Cofer Luster Law Firm, P.C. can act fast to contact the appropriate law enforcement officers and prosecutors to seek protection on your behalf.
What should I do if the police contact me about child porn allegations?
Be polite to law enforcement but do not answer any questions. Do not voluntarily consent to a search of your residence or your electronic devices. Respectfully request the name and contact information for the investigators into your case and contact our criminal defense law firm in Fort Worth immediately for experienced help in handling your case. The sooner our attorneys at Cofer Luster can get involved, the better we’ll be able to protect you from unknowingly providing incriminating statements or evidence.
What should I do if the police seize my computer?
It’s common for child pornography investigations to begin with execution of a search warrant. If contacted by law enforcement and your property is seized, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Even during the execution of a search warrant, you should never answer any questions or make any statements to the police. Politely ask to see a copy of the search warrant. Officers will begin to execute the warrant by collecting and removing any devices or other property listed in the search warrant for further examination. Do not get in the way of the police when they execute their warrant.
Even if you don’t suspect that your computer or other electronic device such as phones or tablets contain illegal images or content, you need to retain a lawyer. Cody Cofer and James Luster at Cofer Luster Law Firm, P.C. have decades of combined experienced handling state and federal cases involving charges of child pornography. If you have questions or need immediate assistance with an urgent matter, call our office at (682) 777-3336 or send us a message for a fast response outside normal office hours.