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The gray area of viewing child pornography on the Web

The gray area of viewing child pornography on the Web

On Monday we wrote about Operation Orion’s nearly 200-person arrest in a round-up of perpetrators of alleged child porn offenses ranging across more than 30 states and seven other countries. According to the director of federal agency ICE, many of the accused people are said to have committed these sex-related offenses online, like on Facebook, which will undoubtedly lead to charges of possession and distribution.

While we’re on the topic of child pornography offenses committed online, we thought it fitting to mention Edward Tan’s FindLaw piece, which highlights a recent state court decision (not Maryland) regarding the issue of viewing child porn and the struggle the courts have with computer technology.

New York’s highest court ruled that a man charged with 134 counts of possession of child pornography would not be held liable for two of them. These two counts came about from what investigators found in the man’s Web cache, which shows recently visited pages.

According to Tan, the court held that viewing child porn online – as opposed to downloading it to a hard drive or in some other way exerting control over the material – was not enough to convict him of those two particular counts of possession. It might seem like an arbitrary line, but the court did not want to “overextend” the reach of state law.

This case illustrates the complexity of grappling with alleged sex offenses and computer crimes in light of modern technology. And despite that state’s ruling, as Tan writes, viewing child porn online remains a federal crime.

If you have been arrested for a sex crime, don’t chance it, contact a sex crimes attorney to protect your legal rights.

Source: Viewing Child Porn Not a State Crime: NY Appeals Court

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