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Can Child Pornography Charges be Successfully Fought?

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There are serious consequences to a conviction of a child pornography offense, so it’s important to fight and clear your name if charges are brought against you.

Keep reading to learn whether child pornography charges can be successfully defended.

Child Pornography Defined

According to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), “Child pornography is a form of child sexual exploitation. Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (persons less than 18 years old). Images of child pornography are also referred to as child sexual abuse images.”

The Law

The DOJ considers child pornography charges to be very severe. According to the DOJ, “Federal law prohibits the production, distribution, importation, reception, or possession of any image of child pornography. A violation of federal child pornography laws is a serious crime, and convicted offenders face fines severe statutory penalties.”

Federal Child Pornography Laws

The following are the federal laws that prohibit child pornography:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 2251 - Sexual Exploitation of Children
    • Production of child pornography
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2251A - Selling and Buying of Children
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2252 - Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors
    • Possession, distribution, and receipt of child pornography
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2252A - Certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2256 - Definitions
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2260 - production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the United States

Child Pornography Defenses

It can be exceptionally challenging to defend someone who has been charged with child pornography or sexual exploitation. However, our firm has had success defending these cases through the studied application of the law and a thorough understanding of how to prepare for, and fight, charges in a child pornography case.

Child Pornography is a Knowledge-Based Crime

In order to convict a citizen of a child pornography offense, the prosecution must show the defendant had knowledge of his or her possession of the materials, and that the defendant was aware of the content of those materials as child pornography, as defined in the federal statute. In addition, 18 U.S.C. § 2252 (c)(1) specifically recognizes an affirmative defense; if the defendant had “less than three matters” (pictures, movies, etc.) and “promptly and in good faith” deleted the picture, this may act as a defense.


Certain federal circuits define “possession” more strictly than courts in other federal circuits. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit noted that a person cannot be found guilty for accessing an image through a web browser which was then automatically saved on the computer’s internet browser cache. The Eighth Circuit held that the image must have been deliberately downloaded by the defendant to meet the elements of the crime.

The Person is Not a Minor

In order for a piece of content to be considered child pornography, a minor must be depicted within the film or image. It is possible for our team to consult with pediatricians and other medical experts to review the images. This is done to develop evidence that the person depicted could have been, or was, at least 18 years of age.

“Erotica” vs. “Sexually Explicit Content”

It is possible for an image or video to be considered “erotica” rather than “sexually explicit content,” as defined under federal law. If the content contains nudity but lacks the kind of sexual content with minors that is forbidden by law, it may be referred to as “erotica,” which would not meet the definition of child pornography.

We’re Here to Support You

Here at Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, our team is highly skilled in criminal defense law and we have helped many other people in similar situations avoid prosecution and lengthy sentences. Let us see if we can help you clear your name, too. Don’t delay—contact our office with any questions you may have right away. We are available 24/7 to discuss the details of your case.

Contact us today at (214) 238-9392 to learn more about how we can help over a confidential case evaluation.

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