While criminal charges of any kind can be devastating, few are as potentially ruinous as those involving child pornography allegations. Charges of making, having or distributing these materials can destroy a person's family, reputation and career, and a conviction can mean extremely harsh penalties, including lengthy prison sentences.
This is the situation one Florida man is facing after an undercover FBI agent launched an investigation into child pornography networks in Jacksonville. The man was recently arrested and charged after the investigation reportedly tied him to unlawful activities.
According to reports, the FBI agent was investigating a group of people who were suspected of trading pornographic images involving children with each other via the Internet. Using unspecified methods, the agent evidently traced several downloads of the illegal material to one man's computer.
After the investigation, agents secured a search warrant and the man's computer was seized. In addition to child pornography, they also allegedly found online conversations the man had with others that suggested his willingness to share the materials.
If convicted, the man could be looking at a minimum of 15 years in federal prison.
Unfortunately, this is not a common scenario. State and federal agents use extensive and aggressive tactics to investigate allegations of criminal behaviors. Once they feel there is enough information collected, they can get a search warrant and confiscate a person's electronic devices including phones, cameras, computers and tablets. Based on their findings, they can file charges and pursue aggressive penalties.
People in a similar situation may be wise to remember that they have rights at each step in this process. If these rights are violated during the investigation, search or trial, there may be ways to avoid or minimize exposure to serious punishment. However, it can require extensive legal knowledge to scrutinize law enforcement procedures, challenge witness statements and defend a person against charges.
It is for this reason that people often consult an attorney if they are facing federal charges or those involving accusations of child pornography. The stakes are incredibly high in these situations, and an aggressive defense can be crucial.
Source: The Florida Times-Union, "Jacksonville man arrested on federal charges for offering to trade toddler sex video," Dan Scanlan, Oct. 17, 2014