In federal court, what often happens is that a person is unknowingly chatting online with an undercover law enforcement officer and either images are exchanged or there is disturbing chat going back and forth online between a client and undercover officer. Eventually, a search warrant is obtained and executed at the client’s home, place of business, or both. If there is child pornography or alleged child pornography found on the person’s computer or phone or other electronic device then that is one way that these charges arise.
Another way that they arise is that sometimes law enforcement agents monitoring the internet codes on various images that they believe are related to documented images of child pornography. They monitor those being downloaded some place and will often get a search warrant based on that alone. That can often lead to a child pornography charge from that investigation, which is when you should contact a Maryland federal child pornography lawyer to begin building your defense.
It’s an image that depicts a child, someone who’s under 18, engaging in sexual conduct. Now, there is a difference between child pornography, which involves sexual conduct versus something called erotica, which is showing a child under the age of 18 without clothes on but not engaged in any sort of sexual activity.
Merely seeing something online does not, in itself, constitute possession of child pornography. You have to be in possession or receipt of it. So viewing child pornography on the internet is not if you don’t download it. Although, we think it is high risk behavior because you may end up downloading something without knowing that you are downloading it. So we would caution anyone not to view any images of child porn or knowingly view any image of child pornography because it can get you into real trouble.
Conspiracy to possess child pornography is a less likely charge to arise because that would essentially encompass the scenario where a person is talking, most likely with an undercover officer, about possessing child pornography. It’s a rare charge because you can’t conspire with an undercover officer.
Often child enticement is charged along with child pornography. Traveling with intention to engage in illegal sexual conduct is often charged as well because child pornography is often the byproduct of a search of somebody’s computer after they’ve been investigated for something else.