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What To Do If You Accidentally Receive Unsolicited Child Pornography?

In this article, you will learn:

  • How a teenager can be charged with child pornography
  • What is required of someone convicted of child pornography charges
  • How child pornography can be defended against

Even if you received the content unsolicited, or the illegal material unbeknownst to you was mixed in with legal material, your computer or device which you received the information on will be tainted with the illegal material. And unless you are an expert in computers, you are probably not going to be able to wipe it clean of the illegal material. It potentially could even become a separate crime to destroy evidence, so I can’t advise anyone to destroy or clean a computer of alleged child pornography.

How A Teenager Could Be Charged With Child Pornography For Sending Racy Photos Or Sexting?

Any sort of image or videos of somebody under the age of 18 is going to be fair game for child pornography. Even if it is just two teenagers, a boyfriend and girlfriend, or whatever romantic relationship you have, if there is sexual material, photos, or videos of somebody under the age of 18, then potentially that’s going to be child pornography, and sending it to one another is potentially distribution or dissemination of child pornography.

How Teenagers Who Have Shared Explicit Photos Of Themselves With Other Teens Or Classmates Can Be Charged With Distributing Child Pornography In Illinois?

Unfortunately, any time there is a sexual image or video that is being transmitted or distributed, that potentially is going to be distribution of child pornography. Additionally, for the person who has the image or video on their device, that’s going to be possession of child pornography.

The Registration Requirements For People Convicted Of Possession Or Distribution Of Child Pornography In Illinois

Generally, a conviction for child pornography would result in a lifetime registration as a sex offender, which is why we have to look very carefully at every one of these cases to see if we do have any viable defenses.

Possibilities To Defend Against Child Pornography Charges In Illinois

There are many different defenses available to child pornography cases. What defenses are viable will depend on the facts and evidence in each particular case.

One defense might be that the individuals in the images or videos are not actually under 18. Sometimes, it’s not a close call where you are talking about pre-pubescent children, but sometimes we are talking about adolescent children. Can the prosecutor prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individuals are physically developed but under 18? Or are they very young looking but over 18. There is an entire genre of legal, adult pornography in which the central theme is that the actors are very young looking. Can anyone tell the difference?

Another defense could be whether it rises to the level of sexual explicitness required. So, in other words, is it child pornography, or is it a nude photo of somebody under the age of 18, or is it art? Nudity in and of itself is not enough. What if it is depictions of nudist activities with adults and minors? This is a viable defense, however, that can be a difficult defense to maintain. It requires the judge or jury to believe that you have an innocent frame of mind.

There are other arguments relating to distribution and dissemination as well. So, in other words, is it really distribution if you only give somebody a web address instead of an actual file? Or is it distribution if unbeknownst to you, somebody can access your hard drive and take files off your hard drive as is the case with Bit Torrent and other filing sharing software? Also, when you delete photos and files from your computer, they are not wiped clean, they just are renamed and put in a part of your device or computer called unallocated space. So, if you didn’t know the image was there, and you didn’t know how to access it, is that possession? That’s another defense. There are many different things we can do in a case to try and defeat these charges, such as filing pretrial motions asking to exclude evidence because of illegal searches or seizures, but it will be on a case by case basis.

Additional Information On Child Pornography Cases In Illinois

One thing we could talk about is what it means to distribute child pornography, because that’s a cutting-edge area of the law. What I mean by that, is there are a lot of file sharing programs out there that have various names, but Lime wire was sort of an old one that was popular for a while. Now, they have bit torrent, which is very popular. However, when you download it onto a device or your computer, most people don’t know this, but you are opening your computer up to anyone else with software to be able to go into your computer or device and look at your hard drive. Now, generally, people are not per se going into your computer, but if we both have that software on our computers, and I type in a certain topic or file name into the search engine, then the software determines that the keyword or file name is on your computer. When I download it, it comes from your computer. Again, you are not actively participating in the dissemination, but the software does open your device or computer up for the world to see or examine. The question then becomes whether that is distribution if you are not affirmatively delivering a file to someone if it’s just sort of sitting there on your computer for someone else to grab.

Another area that’s relatively cutting-edge is whether or not giving somebody a link, basically a web address where there may be child pornography located, is distribution. By giving you a file, I’m just basically telling you where to find the illegal material if you want it; is that distribution? The courts really haven’t sorted that out yet, but I think that there is a strong argument that it is not, because you are only telling someone about the location of it, you yourself are not distributing or providing the actual files, you are just telling them a location.

For more information on Unsolicited Child Pornography 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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