Child pornography charges are serious business. Even if you are caught in possession of a single file or image that is considered child pornography, you may be charged with a felony and end up on the Illinois sex offender registry. Partially because of this, child pornography convictions can have a serious impact on the rest of your life, including where you can work, live, or even visit.
Luckily, a child pornography charge is not a conviction. Each defendant has the right to a fair trial and an attorney who will fight to make sure you see a fair outcome. If your desired outcome is dropped charges and freedom, you will have to build a strong defense strategy.
There are a number of potential defenses that may help your case, but it depends on the specifics of your situation. Below, we’re going to go over some of the most useful strategies, but make sure you reach out to a lawyer to learn what strategies they recommend for you.
Pornographic Materials Not Yours
Someone must have the intention to possess child pornography in order to be convicted. This does not mean that the defendant has the intention to distribute or produce the pornography — those are separate charges with separate penalties. There are many ways, however, where a defendant could obtain child pornography files by accident or without the knowledge of possessing the pornography, including:
- Obtaining pornography through online viruses or spam
- Entrapment (coercion or force from law enforcement to break the law)
- The pornography in question belongs to a family member, roommate, etc.
Evidence in Question is Not Child Pornography
Child pornography is clearly defined in Illinois state law. The subjects that constitute child pornography are visual depictions of “any child whom [the defendant] knows or reasonably should know to be under the age of 18 or any person with a severe or profound intellectual disability.”
The law also states the poses or positions that would make an image or video fall under the definition of child pornography (you can read the full law here). If you can argue that the evidence gathered does not depict lewd acts, or that the subject is not a child or person with a profound intellectual disability, you may be able to prove that you were not breaking the law.
Lack of Evidence
If you can get the evidence that is incriminating you thrown out, the judge will have no choice but to let you off without a conviction.
Look at the way the evidence was obtained. Police who gathered the evidence without a proper warrant may be in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which lays out the process for legal search and seizure. If no warrant was present, or you did not give law enforcement officials permission to search your property, you may be able to have the evidence removed from the case.
If the root of the defendant’s problem is psychological, it won’t allow you to completely beat your charges, but a judge may propose alternative treatment. Seek out the recommendation of a certified therapist or doctor to show the judge that you are actively seeking rehabilitation for your actions.
Again, you may still receive a guilty plea, but rather than heading straight to jail, a judge may direct you to a facility that treats addiction and similar cases. Of the two alternatives, most feel that the latter is far preferable.
An Experienced Chicago Criminal Lawyer Increases Your Chance of Dropped Charges
The best defense strategy you can use is reaching out to a knowledgeable Illinois defense lawyer with experience handling child pornography cases.
Child pornography cases require special attention and sensitivity. Talk to an Illinois child pornography lawyer who can help you fight your specific charges with the time and resources that you deserve.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.