One of the important things to know about federal child pornography charges is that these cases can be very difficult cases to try to a jury because what the prosecutor is trying to do is parade images that have been discovered in order to prejudice the jury from looking at the true evidence of the case.
In other words, if your defense is that someone else had access to the computer then even though there are 50 or 60 images or 100 images that are really disturbing to look at, the defense is not disputing the fact that it is child pornography. The images can leave a bad impression on the jury and make it difficult to get a fair trial. This is the biggest challenge in dealing with these types of cases before a jury.
As a lawyer, it’s of crucial importance to prepare a client to testify in their own defense. It takes a lot of work, going over what the evidence is, talking about it, and making sure a client understands the nature of the evidence. Attorneys need to hear what they have to say about it so they can testify truthfully as to what happens in a way that it’s going to help them.
In addition, an attorney will be preparing a client to deal with the trial in the sense that most clients don’t have a legal background. This involves preparing them for the process, taking them through it, making sure they understand what’s going to happen in trial, and often discussing options to make sure they understand what the evidence is that is going to be brought into court against them. This is all extremely important. It’s important to make sure they understand exactly what they’re getting themselves into when they go to trial because being informed about options is a crucial part of a lawyer’s job in dealing with these cases.
First, as a criminal defense lawyer, one key role is to educate a jury and make it known that it is the government’s job to prove it’s case beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense does not have to prove anything in these cases. While legally the defense doesn’t have to refute the government’s case, but, at the same time, living in the real world, it is also important to understand that a jury, when they see these images, is going to be immediately prejudiced against a client. So, whether the law requires you to present a defense or not, it’s important to explore very seriously the possibility of presenting a defense in a case like this because the jury wants to hear from a client who can say, “listen, I didn’t do this.”
Now as far as refuting specific evidence, it depends on the case. You have to look at what the electronic evidence is, what the images are, what the records or the logs on the computer show, when they were downloaded, when they were uploaded, when communications were made about the images, when they were transmitted. Sometimes, for example, you can show that a client was in fact at work when the home computer was being used to transmit images and that can be a huge as part of the defense.