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Possession Of Child Pornography In Illinois Or Federal Law

Possession Of Child Pornography In Illinois Or Federal LawIn this article, you will read about:

  • How possession is defined for child pornography in Illinois and Federal Law.
  • Why you could be arrested simply for viewing Child Pornography.
  • How far law enforcement can go to find Child Pornography on your computer or device.
What, Exactly, Constitutes Possession Of Child Pornography Under Illinois And Federal Law?

When it comes to Child Pornography in Illinois, and the US as a whole, there is a zero-tolerance policy for the possession of Child Pornography. But how, exactly, is possession defined?

In the law, possession is a “voluntary act” for which someone is responsible if they have knowingly procured or received a given item, or if they are aware that the item is in their control. In this case, child pornography.

There are two types of possession, both of which are recognized and similarly punished under the law:

  1. Actual Possession – child pornography in your immediate and exclusive control (Easy to Prove).
  2. Constructive Possession – child pornography not under your immediate or exclusive control, but which you have the power or intention to directly or indirectly exercise control over it (Harder to Prove or Prevent).
Possession Of Child Pornography On Computers And Devices

Questions of possession can become considerably complicated in the age of the internet and connected devices. Files can be discovered on computers or devices in areas that are not readily accessible to people without specialized software. Some of which non-tech savvy users may not even be aware exist.

So while the law on child pornography is clear, applying it to cases of possession is not always straightforward. Sometimes grey areas exist where you might be charged for something you had no control over, and technicalities and technical details can be exploited by an experienced and specialized lawyer, to defend someone charged with the possession of child pornography.

What Is Illegal When Viewing Or Having Child Pornography?

In terms of having child pornography, possession is clear and everything is illegal. You should never encounter, and certainly never keep, child pornography. If you do, contacting an experienced or specialized attorney immediately is your best bet for safely navigating the situation and your contact with law enforcement.

Unfortunately, simply viewing child pornography is a trickier topic.

Could I Be Arrested Simply For Searching For Child Porn?

Generally speaking, you will not be “caught” viewing child pornography unless you are already under investigation for child pornography, or are served a warrant. In other words, if law enforcement already thinks you possess it.

However, knowingly viewing child pornography is illegal, and you could very well be arrested for possession if you have done so and it is discovered.

Why Viewing Child Pornography Can Constitute Possession?

When it comes to computers and other connected devices, almost everything you search for and/or view online is saved in one form or another on your device. Unfortunately, this can include child pornography you have seen, even if you have not intentionally saved it. A fact most internet users are not aware of.

Law enforcement has access to specialized software and computer experts capable of diving deep into your computer or device. They can recover or discover things you might have thought hidden, or not even realized were there in the first place.

If you are served a warrant for child pornography you might end up being charged with possession of files you never actively downloaded or saved, simply because you viewed them online.

What Does Receiving Child Pornography Mean?

Broadly speaking, receiving child pornography would fall under possession, and will be treated as such. Under some cases in federal court, receiving child pornography across state lines can be an aggravating circumstance.

Most of the time, however, for criminal child pornography charges, you will be facing accusations of possession (as described above) or distribution/dissemination, which means you gave it to someone else.

What Constitutes Distribution Or Promotion Of Child Pornography?

Distribution of child pornography means that you have disseminated it (shared, sent, provided, etc.) to someone else. This can either be through some form of exchange or transfer of possession or by making it available for someone else to obtain or download it.

When it comes to child pornography charges, distribution is a more serious offense and carries higher penalties than simple possession.

How Vulnerable Is My Computer As Evidence In A Child Pornography Case?

Computers are exceptionally vulnerable, and will almost always be searched and/or used as evidence in a child pornography case.

Unless you are highly specialized or technologically adept, it is difficult to even scratch the surface of what your computer can do, or what it can contain. Most users will not realize that almost everything we see or view is saved in some way, shape, or form. This can include:

  • Websites
  • Pictures
  • Videos
  • Forums
  • Conversations
  • And more…

This can apply to things viewed in “hidden” or “incognito mode” as well as files that have been downloaded and then later deleted.

Illegal material such as child pornography, no matter how well you think you have hidden it, or how thoroughly you have deleted it, is always something you should worry about.

Can The Police Seize My Computer At Any Time?

The police can, and almost certainly will, seize and search your computer and other electronic devices if they have sufficient suspicion of child pornography to get a warrant.

Law enforcement has access to the software and experts required to find child pornography on it, regardless of the precautions you may have taken. This can also mean being charged with the possession of child pornography you did not realize was there.

If they find any child pornography, your computer or device will be confiscated and held to be used as evidence.

How Can I Protect Myself Against Charges Of Child Pornography Possession?

If you fear you might have been exposed to child pornography, or are concerned about the legality of something you have seen or come into possession of, the best thing you can do is contact legal representation immediately.

With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Child Pornography Law, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing experienced experts are there to help.

For more information on Child Pornography Law in Illinois, a free initial consultation is your next best step.  Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (708) 218-0947 today.

Donald N. Macneil, Esq.

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