Do you know what constitutes a child pornography possession charge?
One recent case in Illinois has already ended in a conviction. Former Air Force airman Robert Hollingsworth, 27, of Byron, was sentenced to a five-year prison sentence and $48,000 in restitution fees. He pled guilty to one count of possession of child pornography.
One report said that Hollingsworth used technology to conceal his identity online, building a digital collection of more than 3,000 videos and 10,000 images of child sexual exploitation. The children in the videos and images were under 12 years of age. Sixteen of the 162 identified victims submitted statements and sought restitution.
Another recent possession case is still ongoing. A 41-year-old man from Bartlett is facing five felony charges involving the presence of internet-based child pornography. The DuPage County Sheriff’s office got a search warrant to seize the man’s electronic devices, then conducted a forensic investigation which revealed the illicit pornographic materials.
In this article, you’ll learn what it means in the state of Illinois to possess child pornography, and the penalties associated with a conviction.
Understanding Illinois Child Pornography Charges Means Learning the Lingo
To understand the laws on possession of child pornography in Illinois, it is important to know the common terms used and what they mean.
The medium can include printed or digital images or videos, film, photography, or any other similar visual content. This also includes promotional or advertising materials with such images.
The subject of said images is the person appearing in them. To qualify as child pornography, they must be under the age of 18, or a person of any age who has a severe intellectual disability.
The content of the images involves the actual or simulated imagery of any of the following:
- Sexual conduct or penetration with any animal or person
- Act of masturbation
- Touching, caressing, or fondling another person or animal
- Sexual context of urination or excretion
- Sadistic, sadomasochistic, or masochistic abuse, depicted as binding or fettering
- Lewd depiction of transparently clothed or unclothed sexual organs, buttocks or female breast area
Possession charges apply when an individual has any of these images in print, video, or digital form in their personal holdings. These charges apply whether an individual intends to keep those images for private viewing or to distribute them. Illinois law assumes that if an individual possesses multiple copies of the same images or videos, they will be charged with an intent to distribute. Under the law, each unique image constitutes a single violation which will be considered separately.
What Happens If You are Charged with Child Pornography Possession
Illinois law allows for the warranted search and seizure of all printed material and electronic devices if possession of child pornography is suspected.
Penalties for possession of child pornography are all felony charges. The fines and prison sentences fall along the following guidelines:
Class 3 felony charge: 2 to 5 years in prison, extended sentence of 5 to 10 years
Class 2 felony charge: 3 to 7 years in prison, extended sentence of 7 to 14 years
Class 1 felony charge: 4 to 15 years in prison, extended sentence of 15 to 30 years
Class X felony charge: 6 to 30 years in prison, extended sentence of 30 to 60 years
These felony charges include fines between $1,500 and $100,000, depending on the details of the case.
If an individual is convicted of possession of child pornography, they will likely be required to register with the state as a sex offender. Each year for 10 years, a convicted sex offender must register with the state. A repeat violation within 10 years of a prior conviction will result in a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.
How to Defend against Charges of Possessing Child Pornography in Illinois
Defenses to possession of child pornography include the following:
- The defendant took action to make a bona fide inquiry regarding the depicted person’s age, and based on their findings, reasonably believed that the depicted person was over the age of 18 or did not have a severe intellectual disability.
- The person depicted in the images or videos was not under the age of 18 or was not severely intellectually disabled at the time the image was created.
- The defendant did not knowingly possess any such images or videos and did not voluntarily seek out any such images or videos.
If you have been accused of child pornography possession, you must enlist the help of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. These charges can severely damage your reputation, and you need someone who will defend you. Call us for a free initial consultation.
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.