December 18th, 2015 by Attorney Dan Carman
One of the major news stories this year involves national restaurant chain Subway’s former spokesman, Jared Fogle, who was charged with conspiracy to distribute and receive child pornography and traveling to have sex with a minor. In August, Fogle agreed to plead guilty, pay $1.4 million in restitution, register as a sex offender and get treatment for sexual disorders. He was sentenced to over 15 years in prison, with a minimum of 13 years to be served.
His story is not uncommon. Locally, in just the past few months, a Lexington man was arrested on charges related to distribution of matter portraying a sex performance by a minor, a Nicholasville man was charged with 50 counts of possession of matter portraying a sex performance by a minor, and a Richmond man was charged with 30 counts of possessing child pornography.
Internet Service Providers also have entire business divisions devoted to scanning the content they host for child pornography. When found, it is reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which conveys information for a search warrant to local law enforcement officials. Sometimes, child porn sites are not automatically shut down, but instead are left online in an attempt to track visitors.
It is highly likely that any child pornography passing through your Internet stream at home or at work will be discovered by NCMEC or another agency and reported to police. However, do you always know what is on your computer? All the bytes of data that it accesses? Software is often designed to hide working files to enhance performance of the end results. Files can be created, saved, moved and deleted without the user’s knowledge or command. Furthermore, Internet-based file sharing requires little human intervention and can cause big problems for the user at an IP address when a questionable file can be traced there.
Many people who are charged with child pornography crimes are innocent of any criminal intent. Some are simply curious; others acquire the content accidentally; and still others may have mental disorders associated with sexual impulses. For those who did have the required intent, there may be issues with the way the police handled the search and seizure or any number of mitigating circumstances that can change the case and lessen the penalties.
Our society takes Internet- and sex-related crimes very seriously and imposes harsh punishments on those who violate the prohibitions. Sometimes, accusers can get overzealous when child pornography is mentioned, so it is important to look at allegations from an unbiased point of view and make sure they are supported by actual evidence. Possession of pictures or videos is not the same as molestation, and it is unfair to pressure those who have been accused of child porn crimes into taking a plea bargain just to settle the case before word gets out.
Of course, the best way to escape charges related to Internet child pornography is to avoid it in the first place. But, if you have been charged with crime relating to child pornography, or have questions about how the law might apply to your situation, discuss it with one of the attorneys at the Lexington, KY-based Carman Law Firm. As criminal defense attorneys with years of experience, we offer thorough, experienced representation. Call today at (859) 685-1055 or fill out this online contact form to find out how we can help you.