Child Pornography Crimes

Over my 27 years as a criminal defense attorney in Maryland, I have handled hundreds of cases involving Maryland child pornography charges. If you have been accused of possessing or distributing child porn, I will investigate your case, assess the state’s case against you and provide an aggressive and knowledgeable defense on your behalf.

Maryland child porn arrests are highly complex. I understand how various factors in each case will affect the strength of the prosecution’s case against you. For instance:

  • Were others looking at files on your computer remotely and unbeknownst to you? – If you were unknowingly sharing files your charges as a “distributor” may not stick.
  • What search terms did you use online? – Highly specific search queries about “young kids having sex” may be problematic.

Less specific searches may aid in your defense. I work with computer experts to track download histories, query histories, and other case facts to weaken prosecutors’ cases. When undercover detectives, sting operators, and task forces search the Web for alleged pedophiles I can counter their efforts with a strong and knowledgeable response.

I travel to the state attorney’s office to review cases because, often, prosecutors can’t even share alleged evidence of child pornography charges without being charged as distributors themselves.

My goal? To prevent adults and even minors from conviction and from the requirement to register with the sex offender registry. My representation has resulted in numerous clients avoiding a lifetime sex offender registration requirement.

For a no-charge consultation with an experienced trial attorney following child pornography charges, contact one of my offices.


Distribution & Possession of Child Porn in Maryland

Possession of child porn images is an extremely serious criminal charge, subject to a five-year sentence in federal prison even for a first-time offender. If that wasn’t bad enough, many people who are charged with possession of child pornography face enhanced charges based on the number of images and what they allegedly did with those images after downloading them.

Federal and state prosecutors will evaluate what is found on your computer after a forensic lab has listed every website that has been downloaded and visited, sometimes for the life of the computer. Even though many people believe that their computer is clean, forensic technology can uncover many images and caches on the hard drive to tell prosecutors:

  • The number of images on your machine
  • Times visited
  • The type of video or images
  • Frequency of use

The nature of any “chat room” conversations with others (including undercover police officers)


What Is Distribution of Child Pornography?

It is against the law to receive, possess, distribute or produce child porn images. Simply clicking on a link and downloading an image to your computer can lead to charges of possession of child pornography, even if you later deleted the images. If you forwarded images to another person by e-mail or Internet links, you can be charged with distribution of child porn. Some Internet programs can automatically set you up as a distributor because of “sharing” technology.

Possession and distribution of child porn cases are often prosecuted in federal court, where you can face a sentence of from five to 30 years in federal prison, even for a first offense. All child pornography convictions are subject to lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Many people who do not consider themselves consumers of child porn can get caught up in these charges. Clicking on a link on a website or an e-mail message can result in the downloading of images you never intended to view. A teenager who takes pictures of his girlfriend on a cell phone camera and then distributes those images to his friends on his cell phone can face charges of possessing and distributing child pornography charges if his girlfriend is under 18.


What’s Different about Child Pornography Compared to Other Cases?

There’s no question about it – if you’ve been charged with child pornography, you are alienated from society in many ways. What will happen? Am I going to jail? Do I have to register with the Sex Registry and for how long? What are my friends and family going to think and who will find out?

There’s no question that judges and juries have a complete disdain for anyone who has been charged or who is accused of possessing, creating, or manufacturing child pornography. It evokes the extreme emotional response from the public. The accused person is immediately labeled as evil and someone who hurts children.

Of course, this is not always the case. Not everything is true. And I have been able to show and prove that in fact the defendant did not do what is alleged. In those cases, my client is completely vindicated.

When a person comes into my office regarding a child pornography case I attempt to walk them through the process and explain to them what we’re dealing with. Society and legislatures have created many laws in the last 10 years to address sexual deviations and sex offenses. One of them is child pornography, which has exploded across the globe, and law enforcement has put a lot of money and resources against it.

From the standpoint of evidence, these are difficult cases because they boil down to whether or not a person was actually “searching” for child pornography by using specific search terms and the amount and type of downloads found on the hard drive.

The age of the people depicted in the images or videos, the specific sex acts themselves, and the amount or number of images and videos are important factors. Many times we can show that there was some technical issue that caused the material to be placed on the hard drive with no intent from the owner. The courts over the last 15 years have developed various evidentiary rules regarding computers and downloading – but it’s early and these rules are evolving.


Frequently Asked Questions about Sex Crimes

One frequently asked question is “Some Lawyers Do Not Take Child Porn Cases. Why Do You?

I wholeheartedly believe that it’s the absolute duty of a criminal defense lawyer to understand and competently represent people who are charged with child pornography, be it possession and distribution. Even those accused of manufacturing and creating child pornography deserve a zealous defense. While I certainly agree that any type of abuse is morally wrong and criminal, there are many gray areas when dealing with the state and federal authorities.

It’s been said that porn is the largest industry in the world. Whether that’s true or not, there are so many types and variations of sexual depictions on the web. Much of this is completely legal. But you can easily cross a line into child porn, and if the material is viewed and downloaded onto a hard drive or any other device that captures these images, you could be accused of possession.

But there are many questions that come up after you’ve been accused. Do other people have access to your computer or mobile device? Was the material actually downloaded and stored on the device? Was the material accidentally viewed but immediately deleted (a non-criminal offense under Maryland law)?

You may not intend to go looking for child pornography, but it’s a slippery slope, especially if you find material in which the actors or abused individuals are underage or barely legal.


Finding a Lawyer for Child Pornography Crimes in Baltimore, MD

If you face sex crime criminal charges in Maryland, contact the Law Offices of James E. Crawford Jr. I offer free initial consultations, accept credit cards and contract with interpreters if necessary.

For the past 18 years, James Crawford has defended people in Baltimore, Catonsville, Annapolis, Bel Air and throughout Maryland who have been charged with sex crimes such as distribution and possession of child pornography. If you have been approached by law enforcement officers or have had your computer seized under a search warrant, I offer a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.

Attempting to explain how the images came to be in your possession may only give law enforcement officers the evidence they need to charge you with a crime. For this reason, you should talk to an experienced Baltimore, Maryland defense lawyer before you talk to police.

Also, I am available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and operate four offices for your convenience, including my main office in Baltimore as well as offices in Catonsville, Annapolis and Bel Air.

To contact me, call 443-709-9999.