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Federal court tosses out child pornography conviction

by | Sep 16, 2014 | Sex Offenses |

Being convicted of child pornography charges can destroy a person’s life. In many cases, a person will face harsh prison sentences and a lifetime of registering as a sex offender. Having this kind of offense on a criminal record can also result in seriously limited work and living opportunities.

Because of how damaging these convictions can be, it is crucial that child pornography charges not be taken lightly. Having legal representation to defend against allegations can be essential, especially considering the fact that authorities will typically go to great lengths and utilize vast resources to secure a conviction. However, they can make mistakes that violate a person’s rights, which can result in the dismissal of charges. 

Recently, for example, a man was convicted of having child pornography on his computer. A jury convicted him and he was sentenced to 18 years in prison. The case appeared to be much like any other case involving the discovery of illegal images on a person’s computer. 

However, critical errors were made in the search and investigation processes. According to reports, the images were only discovered when a military agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was conducting a search of computers linked to a file-sharing network. The agent reported his findings to federal authorities. A search warrant was issued and the man was charged, convicted and sentenced.

But a federal appeals court reviewed the decision and ultimately threw out the conviction because the agent was only authorized to search the computers of people who were currently in the military. Because the discovery was outside the scope of the search, the findings could not be used.

This case illustrates just one of the many reasons that criminal charges can be overturned or dismissed. Authorities are required to strictly comply with legally recognized search procedures. If they do not, any information collected from that search can be thrown out. This is why it can be so important to discuss the specific details of a case involving child pornography charges with an attorney familiar with search procedures and sex crimes.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Court Tosses Man’s Child Porn Conviction Over Illegal Government Surveillance,” Sept. 14, 2014