The Manatee Sheriff’s office announced Operation One Way Ticket this week, an operation that culminated in multiple arrests. Prevention rather than prosecution is the way to stop child pornography.
Why do men look at child pornography? It has to be an illness. The truth is that it really is a treatable illness. If you stop and think about it, how could anyone get turned on by looking at a naked prepubescent child, much less, a child engaged in sex. It just has to be an illness.
There is a common misconception that if someone looks at child porn, they will go on the molest children. All of the statistical data suggests that this is just not the case. Many of the men who look at this stuff were molested as a child themselves. Some of the men have mental challenges and may be functioning at the level of a child themselves. As a child pornography lawyer, I have represented many men that are autistic or mentally challenged, and they just don’t know any better.
As a sex crime and child pornography lawyer I have been fighting and will continue to fight the unfair policies here in Sarasota and Manatee.
I have always thought that prevention rather than prosecution is the answer. Most child pornography images have a “hash value”. It is like a fingerprint, and when the image is transmitted over the Internet, the Internet provider is programmed to create an alert that a child pornography image was just sent. That alert goes to the police and identifies the IP address from which it was sent, as well as the address it was sent to. This is what triggers most child pornography investigations and arrests.
Since there are programs that report it, why not just write a program that blocks the transmission of the image. The FBI and ICAC have a library of almost all of the known images and videos. Transmission could be stopped with a simple program that prevents it.
What are the child pornography stings actually doing?
There is a fine line between investigating and creating a crime. Are the police on social media sites posting links to child pornography? Are the police on social media encouraging people to exchange kiddie porn videos or pics? Most of the men arrested had nothing to do with creating child pornography. In fact, most child porn is not made in the United States and comes from other countries. You cannot stop people in other countries from making it, but we could stop it from being transmitted.
Why are the men arrested charged in so many Counts (charges)?
With the single click of a mouse a zip jpeg file can be downloaded with hundreds of pics or videos. Once it is in a computer, even if “deleted”, it remains there undetected. Even if someone gets a child porn video accidently, it cannot be erased short of totally erasing and resetting the entire hard drive of the computer. Even if a person does not want to possess a child porn image, once it is there, it is next to impossible to get off the computer.
Here in Sarasota and Manatee County, the State attorney and the Sheriff have a policy of charging at least 40 counts, generally second degree felonies, in almost every case.
When they file that many charges (even from one click of the mouse), they run the bond amount through the roof, and more importantly, run the sentencing guidelines so high that most men then face life in prison or a sentence in hundreds of years.
The prosecutors mistakenly believe these men are pedophiles who will go on to molest children, and that is simply not true. These men need help in the form of intensive counseling. Putting them in prison for 30 or 40 years does nothing. Prevention and counseling are the answers to this type of conduct.
The State’s policy here, has resulted in several of the men arrested, facing life, then opting for suicide. Looking at a picture or a video does not justify a life sentence, much less taking your own life. These are not contact offenses, and the men who look at a picture had nothing to do with molesting any child. Many of these men are psychologically damaged themselves.
As a child pornography lawyer, over the years, I have found that most of the men seriously need help, not spending the rest of their life in prison. If a relative or loved one has been arrested, this is not the time to abandon them. They need legal and psychological help.
Finding the best child pornography lawyer is a difficult task. No lawyer should ever claim he is the best, and no good sex crime lawyer should do so. The simple fact is that there are few criminal defense lawyers that devote their practice to these types of cases.
When you interview lawyers, ask them how many of these types of cases they have actually handled as a defense lawyer, (not as a prosecutor). As in most things in life, experience counts. Look at the lawyers actual credentials. Don’t be fooled by titles like “Super lawyer” or artificially inflated reviews. Make sure the lawyer you are talking to is the one who going to actually handle the case, and not just refer it out. Some lawyers are great at advertising.
Go meet with the lawyer. Is this the person I want standing by me (or my loved one) in the Courtroom? Is he or she experienced, compassionate, competent and articulate?
Good results are not an accident and only come with hard work and lots of experience.
Most criminal defense lawyers, including myself, do not charge for an initial consultation.