Knowing Purchase or Possession of Child Pornography
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272, section 29C makes it a crime to knowingly purchase or possess a negative, slide, book, magazine, film, videotape, photograph, or other similar visual reproduction or depiction by computer, of any child whom the person knows or reasonably should know to be under the age of 18 years where the child is engaged in sexual conduct. Sexual conduct includes depictions of the child engaged in any act of sexual intercourse with any person or animal, any act of sexual contact involving the sex organs or mouth of the child or another person or animal, any act of masturbation, any act of lewd fondling, touching or caressing involving another person or animal, any act of excretion or urination within a sexual context, and any depiction or pose involving lewd exhibition of the child.
This offense is not only heavily punished, but it can have disastrous consequences for one’s personal and professional life. The statute specifies punishment as up to 5 years in state prison or up to 2.5 years in the house of correction, and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. For a second offense, punishment rises to a minimum of 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine, and, for a third offense, a minimum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In addition, the statute excludes a guilty file and a continuance without a finding as alternative dispositions for these charges. This reduces the plea bargaining options and makes it more likely that an offender will serve jail time if he accepts a plea deal.
Additionally, a convicted individual may have to register with the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB), and, depending of the severity of the crime, may have to undergo various treatment programs. If the SORB determines that the convicted individual is a high level threat to the community, the offender’s identity and information can be made public.
To secure a conviction for the purchase or possession of child pornography, the prosecutor must prove four things beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, that the defendant knowingly purchased or possessed the image or images in question. This means that the possession or purchase cannot be an accident. The defendant must have control over the item and the intent to control the item.
Second, that there is an image of a person under 18 years old who is engaged in or simulating the engagement of any of the activities listed above.
Third, that the defendant knew or reasonably should have known the person in the image was under 18 years old. To satisfy this element, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant or a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have known the depiction was of a child under 18 years old.
And fourth, that the defendant knew of the nature or content of the images. This is a determination made from all of the surrounding circumstances in which the defendant possessed the image.
If you have been charged with the possession of sale of child pornography, contact the expert criminal defense attorneys at the law firm of Altman & Altman as soon as possible to get the assistance you need to resolve your case. Although initially frightening and stressful, with the right defense attorney, you can fight these charges. The expert defense team at Altman & Altman knows how to fight child pornography charges. A defendant cannot be convicted of possessing child pornography if an average person would view the child in the depiction as 18 or older, regardless of the actual age of the child. Our lawyers ensure that prosecutors are put to their burden of proof on this crucial element. In addition, police officers are often too aggressive in their investigations and violate defendants’ constitutional rights when locating and seizing allegedly illegal material. Our lawyers will file motions to suppress evidence to prevent illegally obtained material from being used against our clients in court.
In addition, laws surrounding child pornography are constantly evolving as technology changes and accessing, storing, and distributing material over the internet changes. Our team constantly monitors developments in the law so that our clients benefit from cutting edge legal techniques and are not held responsible for accidental downloads or other computer malfunctions.
Finally, we understand the sensitivity of child pornography charges and we know how to handle these cases discreetly and efficiently. We advise clients on how to minimize the effects of these charges, and how to respond to any media inquiries regarding their case. Furthermore, we support our clients through this difficult process by being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer their questions and address their needs.
Call Altman & Altman today to schedule a free case consultation and learn more about how we can help you resolve your case.