BitTorrent and other peer to peer file sharing programs are dangerous to use

Child pornography arrests are on the rise.  More and more people who use peer to peer file sharing programs have found themselves arrested for possession of child pornography or transmission of obscenity or transmission of Child pornography.

In almost every case, the person arrested has used a peer to peer file sharing program.  The prosecutors have taken the position that if you simply use a program like that, the fact that it defaults to “sharing” makes a person guilty of transmission of child pornography.  They claim that if you agree to the terms of use (which involves sharing) you are in effect transmitting.

It is possible to accidentally come across child porn when you are simply looking for or at adult porn.  Many people think that when you delete a video that it is gone.  That is simply not true.  Delete does not delete.  Many times the video simply goes into unallocated space on your computer and is recoverable by law enforcement computer programs.

All child porn images have a hash value.  That is like a fingerprint.  When a known image is sent or received, it triggers a report to law enforcement.  ICAC generates a report to local law enforcement that a particular IP address has either received or sent the illegal video.  Local law enforcement has a program that then targets your IP address and your computer and detectives can secretly come into your computer and extract the image.  When they do this, even without your knowledge, they then get a search warrant and execute it, seizing all electronic devices at that IP address.  The prosecutors then charge the person with transmitting child pornography, even if the person does not even know the image was extracted.  The simple answer is “Never even view temporarily any image that can possibly be child pornography”.  The best way to not get arrested is to never even look at anything that is even close to child pornography.  Adult porn is ok, but images of teens are prohibited.

A child pornography arrest is a terrible event.  Your arrest becomes public knowledge.  Many people are instantly terminated from their job.  Friends and relatives abandon them and they are scorned by the public.  This can happen even if the possession of child pornography was accidental or unintentional.  At the very moment such an image is coming to you, law enforcement can be extracting it.  They may see it on your computer even before you do.  Child pornography could be stopped entirely if instead of allowing the images to be transmitted, they were simply blocked.  If they can identify it and report it, they should be able to simply block it.

Child pornography convictions carry serious State prison sentences.  The Florida sentencing guidelines are manipulated by the prosecutors by the filing of multiply individual Counts.  In Sarasota County for example, in almost every case the prosecutors file 40 charges scoring the person for decades in prison.  The very simple answer is to simply not use a peer to peer file sharing program, even for something like downloading music or movies.  Most movies and music is protected by copyright anyway and you should not be downloading it.

As a Sex Crime Lawyer,I often encounter people who may have only viewed a few isolated images in the process of looking at adult porn.  It can happen.  Sadly, many of the “cleaning” programs for computers do not work.  I repeat, delete does not mean it is deleted.

Even if a video is deleted, law enforcement can still determine if it was ever there and if it was ever viewed.  Since the video has a hash value, it will be referenced in what they call a “Windows jump list” and law enforcement can tell the exact time and date it was on the screen.  Of course the answer is to never intentionally view kiddie porn, but accidents do happen.  When a person is looking at adult porn, many times the file name is deceptive.  A person may download a file with a particular name or description only to find out it is something else and is illegal.  Defending a child pornography case is difficult because of the public disgust and outrage that children are being sexually abused.  The person charged has an uphill battle in a jury trial and the lawyer defending that person really has to understand not only the law, but how the forensic detectives go about proving their case.  They still have to prove it was “you” behind the computer.  For that very reason, no one should ever consent to being “interviewed”.  You don’t want to go to jail over an accidently viewing.  In America, you have a right to remain silent.  Sadly, some people just don’t have the ability to keep their mouth shut.  If someone reads you your rights…shut up…and exercise your other very important right, that being, your right to have an attorney. 

If a warrant has been executed on your home, call a sex crime lawyer immediately.  Do not wait to get arrested.

Why are there so many child pornography arrests?

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Why are there so many child pornography arrests?

Not a day goes by that someone is not arrested for either possession of child pornography or transmission of child pornography images.  This is a phenomena and direct product of the computer age.  If you go back twenty years, most of the arrests for child pornography were by Federal Authorities and dealt with child pornography in the form of movies, photographs, magazines that were imported and sold for a price.  The United States Customs department and the FBI worked most of the cases.  With the advent of the computer age, child pornography from around the world is available with simply the click of a mouse.  The smuggling aspect of it as well as the economic motive no longer is the prime driving force.  Most child pornography is free and exchanged by millions of people around the world.

Child pornography can take a number of different forms.  It can be something as simple as nude pictures of teenage girls in compromising poses to real hardcore sexual abuse of infants and prepubescent children.  The desire to look at child pornography can and often does date back to something that happened in childhood.  As a Florida sex crime lawyer, it has been my observation that many times it goes back to something that happened to that person as a child.  They may well have been sexually molested themselves.  It may well be a psychological product of sexual trauma inflicted on them by a parent, relative or friend of the family.;

It is in many cases a treatable illness.  The problem is that the Federal Authorities feel that the only way to deal with this illness is to lock people away in Federal prison for decades.  The penalties if you get arrested by the FBI are horrible.  I have defended educated people like doctors and lawyers who found themselves the victim of Federal prosecution for what was basically a weakness created by something in their own childhood.  Incarceration is not the answer.  Treatment is a far better and more cost efficient alternative.  In defending child pornography cases I try and address the cause of a person’s problem and not necessarily the symptom, like possession of the kiddie porn.

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines and the Federal Laws provide for mandatory minimum sentences, long prison terms and lifetime registration as a sex offender.  As an experienced Florida child pornography lawyer I have a twofold approach to defending these cases.  Do not assume that it is hopeless. There are technical defenses to these types of cases.  They can be won.  In cases where the evidence is hopeless (which I never assume) you may be able to convince the Court that a downward departure from the guidelines is appropriate and treatment is a better alternative. In the blogs to follow I will try and explain how the prosecutions come about, how they are defended and ways to lessen the impact of being charged in either the Federal or State Courts.

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