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Role of An Attorney When Facing a Federal Investigation

In addition to severe punishments including fines and jail time, a conviction on federal child pornography charges also carries a social stigma that can follow you for the rest of your life. With this in mind, it is important you consult with a Maryland federal child pornography lawyer and find out what they can do for your case. To learn more about how an attorney can help read below, or call today to schedule a consultation and discuss your case in more detail.

Building a Defense For Federal Charges

The first thing a criminal defense lawyer representing someone in a child pornography or child enticement case will do is start investigating the case themselves. This will be done first by talking to other people such as family, friends, and co-workers and then by following up on leads and looking at similar information that law enforcement is looking at. At this point the defense attorney is essentially conducting our own parallel investigation, but in an effort to help our client present the best defense.

Defense-Side Investigations in Federal Child Pornography Cases

In child pornography cases, the defense attorney will want to look at the chat that led to the arrest, if there is in fact chat. With electronic communications, they will be looking at the images that are actually the basis of the charge, while also seeking to determine if anyone else had access to the specific electronic device that allegedly contains child pornography. However with this said, it depends on the specific aspects of each case.

Access to Materials Gathered in Government Investigation

In federal court, the government has a discovery obligation governed by Rule 16 of the rules of federal criminal procedure. So they have to give you reports, expert notice, and other information. In child pornography cases, they have to give the defense a copy of the electronic evidence that they gathered. If they’ve seized the computer, they have to essentially give the defense a copy of the hard drive so they can look at it. If they’re looking at emails, they have to give the emails they’re relying on or emails that they’ve discovered. There’s also what’s called a separate Brady obligation which is based on the Supreme Court Brady v. Maryland. The government has to give the defense any evidence that tends to show that you didn’t commit the crime that you’re charged with or that would tend to lessen a sentence for the crime that you are charged with.

Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Facing a Federal Child Pornography Investigation

The number one mistake is talking to law enforcement. A second mistake is saying, “well I haven’t done anything wrong so I should just sit back and wait.” That’s a mistake because once the government starts investigating you, they’re most likely not going to stop. You need to be cognizant of that. You need to help yourself. Those are the two biggest mistakes that people make.

Evidence in Child Pornography Cases

It’s more electronically based. In this day and age, it’s primarily images that have been downloaded or allegedly downloaded from the internet. It deals with images that are stored typically on hard drive.

Publicity in Federal Child Pornography Cases

Before the first court date, there may or may not be a lot of publicity.  It depends on how the case is brought to court.  If someone is arrested and the case has not been indicted by a grand jury, then there might be some publicity about it in the newspaper.  The more probable answer is that there will be less publicity that way.  However, if the case is indicted by a grand jury in a federal case, then the prosecution often issues a press release and that will make the paper.  So there will be a lot of more publicity that way then if it’s an arrest without an indictment.