Child pornography (CP) cases are increasing every year with the rise of the internet. For attorneys, the matter of prosecuting criminals found guilty of engaging in the crime is proving to be a lot more difficult than imagined. Arrests of individuals guilty of CP have increased significantly over the last few years, which is why this guide aims to provide details on what CP is and what attorneys need for prosecuting criminals.
What is child pornography (CP)?
Possession of CP is a criminal offense in every state under the federal law. The federal statutes in relation to CP define child as anyone aged fewer than 18 and any possession of sexually explicit materials showing intercourse, masturbation, bestiality, as well as “lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area”. The statute generally excludes pictures of naked children that are not meant for the purpose of arousing sexual interest.
What the law requires for a prosecution?
It is worth pointing out that for a successful CP conviction of an individual, the details of the case must cover more than just the evidence required for search and arrest. It should also clearly show that the convicted had intent, i.e. showing that he or she committed the crime willingly and had full knowledge of the consequences about the files found in their possession.
The details of the evidence all boil down to how it was gathered and analyzed. In few cases, all the prosecution will provide you are a number of charged images and discovery materials. However, that is usually not sufficient for successfully prosecuting a child pornography case. What you need most importantly, is the prosecution expert’s computer forensics report. The reason for this is that it contains the basis for complementing any evidence of charged images against your client and will be the key document to which the prosecution’s expert will testify in a court of law.
What the computer forensics report from the prosecution’s expert should contain?
- The name of the expert and a brief outline of their qualifications.
- The title, initial location and time stamps for any files charged with the crime.
- A brief outline of the steps the expert took as part of the process of making the forensic copies, safeguarding the evidence and the steps undertaken to recover any contraband materials.
- Details about each of the device examined by the forensic expert.
- Details about any user accounts used on the computers
- Detailed information about the internet history, e-mail, chat logs, and other data that is relevant to the case at hand.
The report from the examiner is the most important document required for ensuring that the prosecution of the CP case goes forward. If any of the aforementioned details is missing, especially the location and time stamps of the charged files, then the accused can be offered a plea bargain.
In one CP case, the examiner’s report failed to produce the required information resulting in the accused to be given two misdemeanor counts with a minor. Charges of felony were dropped and the accused was not required to register as a sex offender as required by the law.