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Houston Child Pornography Lawyer
You Need a Serious Defense Against Child Pornography Charges
Allegations involving child pornography are some of the most serious criminal charges a person can face. Clients face immediate condemnation. Notably, clients charged with child pornography cases are often clients who lead normal lives and have no prior criminal record. It is not unusual for everyone associated with the client to be shocked when they learn that the client has been charged with a child pornography offense. A person accused of a child pornography crime must mount a strong defense. As a Criminal defense lawyer, I have zealously defended many clients charged with child pornography-related offenses. Child pornography lawyer Robert Fickman will fight for you. Fickman Criminal Defense will address the charges head-on, protecting your liberty with a strong defense.
Clients charged with child pornography offenses face immediate condemnation by people who know nothing about the case. Those charged with child pornography offenses typically face a lot of hostility and isolation. When I represent someone charged with a child pornography offense, I know that the client is going through a lot emotionally and dealing with their loved ones and coworkers.
What to Do If You are Under Investigation for Child Pornography?
If you learn that you are under investigation for any child pornography-related offense, you should immediately contact and retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If you are under investigation but have not been charged, charges might be stopped.
If I am representing a client under investigation for child pornography, it is my job to try and stop my client from being charged with the child pornography offense. I protect my client and my standing between them and law enforcement. Part of my job is to advise my client on whether they should ever consent to a search or grant an interview to law enforcement. Upon reviewing the facts, I might advise my client not to consent to any search and not to answer any police officer’s questions. Sometimes, by intervening early, I have kept my clients from being charged.
Most Child Pornography Charges are Now Filed in Federal Court
Child pornography charges can be filed in state or federal court. Most child pornography charges are filed in federal court. Law enforcement files child pornography charges in federal court because federal court’s potential punishments are far more severe than those in state court.
How Federal Agents Investigate Child Pornography Cases
Oftentimes, Federal agents conduct undercover investigations where they visit chat rooms where child pornography is made available or traded by those who visit the room. The agents attempt to identify who in the room is seeking to obtain or offering child pornography. Once the agent has identified a potential suspect, the agent will focus on the suspect’s internet activity. The agent will determine the suspect’s I.P. address through various investigative techniques. Once the agent has determined the IP address, the agent will identify the person and physical address identified with that I.P. address. If the agent has probable cause to believe that the suspect residing at the address has child pornography on his computer, the agent will obtain a federal search warrant to search the physical address. A team of raid agents will then execute the federal search warrant.
What Happens When Federal Agents Execute a Federal Search Warrant on a Child Pornography Case?
Federal agents will often execute search warrants early in the morning. By executing the warrant early in the morning, they are more likely to find the suspect client at home, and the client is likely completely unprepared for the agents. Many federal agents will arrive at the client’s residence and bang on the door. Typically, the client will open the door and be informed that the agents have a federal search warrant to search the residence for child pornography.
The agents will enter the house, and the client will be placed either in a room where the agents watch him or he is taken to a police car, where he remains during the search. The search often takes many hours. The agents are very thorough. They seize any electronic device that may contain child pornography. Typically, they will seize all computers, external hard drives, discs, cameras, recording equipment, and iPhones.
While the agents are searching the residence, several agents will often attempt to get the Client to talk. The agents will typically tell the client that they believe he has child pornography in his residence and will find it. They tell him if he cooperates, they may help him in some fashion later on during the course of the case. The agents may or may not arrest the client. They will do their best to get the client to make an incriminating statement which they will record. It is important to note that federal agents’ promises of leniency cannot be relied on. Federal agents are not empowered to negotiate on behalf of the Federal Government. Only an Assistant United States Attorney, a prosecutor, has the legal authority to negotiate on behalf of the Government. It is often not in the client’s interest to make any statement. If the client has a lawyer, he should immediately ask for permission to call his lawyer and say no more.
Once the Agents are done with the search, they may or may not arrest the client. Many different factors are considered in determining whether or not to arrest the client at that time. It is not unusual for the agents not to arrest the client at this time. Agents will turn the devices they seized over to Federal Forensic Examiners. The Forensic Examiners will study the client’s computer devices to determine whether or not they find any evidence of child pornography.
What is Child Pornography?
18 U.S.C. § 2256 defines child pornography as “any visual depiction” of minors under 18 years of age engaged in “sexually explicit conduct.”
Sexually explicit conduct in relation to this statutory definition is actual or simulated:
- Sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex;
- Sadistic or masochistic abuse; or
- Lascivious exhibition of the genitals or public area of any person.
Under federal law, the image does not have to be viewable. A person can be charged with a federal child pornography offense if they have data electronically stored or undeveloped films that can be transformed into images considered child pornography.
What are the Typical Federal Charges a Client Might Face?
There are several federal charges that a client may face. The Federal Government will often charge the Client with more than one of these offenses. As a general rule, the Federal Government will charge the Client with the most serious charges possible under the facts. It is very frightening for a client to be charged or indicted for child pornography crimes. It is important to remember that being indicted means only that the Client is charged. While an indictment is very serious, it is not evidence of any crime. The law regarding Child pornography and Child sex offenses is complicated. The Client should be aware of the types of offenses that may be charged and the possible punishments for each of those offenses.
Possession of Child Pornography:
There is no mandatory minimum sentence. The maximum sentence for a first offense is ten years. The maximum sentence for a second offense is twenty years.
Receipt, distribution, or production of Child Pornography:
This offense has a 5-year minimum with a 20-year maximum for first offenses; and a 15-year minimum with a 40-year maximum when the accused has a prior sex offense conviction. Receipt or Distribution of Child Pornography is far more serious than Possession of Child Possession. Oftentimes the Government will charge the accused Client with both offenses, Possession, and Receipt of Child pornography.
Advertising Child Pornography:
This offense has a minimum 15-year sentence and a maximum sentence of 30 years. The Federal Government is aggressively pursuing Advertising charges in cases where the accused did not engage in any advertising on the face of it.
If you have been accused of a crime involving child pornography, it can result in a conviction that leads to consequences that follow you around for life – which is why you need an experienced attorney like Robert J. Fickman on your side. By enlisting the counsel of this dedicated child pornography lawyer Robert Fickman, you can help defend yourself against federal child pornography charges.
Defenses to Child Pornography Charges
There is no Rule book that a lawyer can turn to to find defenses for Child Pornography cases. The Defense in Child Pornography cases varies from case to case. It is important that Defense Counsel fully investigate the case and consider All possible defenses. It is all-important that Defense Counsel is open-minded to finding a defense that fits the situation. Child Pornography Lawyer Robert Fickman tries in all cases to consider all possible defenses and to keep an open mind to create a new defense that fits the unique facts of the situation.
Child Pornography Lawyer Robert Fickman will consider the applicability of the following possible defenses.
You have protection against illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Law enforcement officers must abide by your rights when searching for or seizing your property. If your rights were violated at any point, then the evidence they gathered during the illegal search may be inadmissible against you in court. The Agents typically come with a search warrant. The Search warrant is issued only after the agent submits a sworn affidavit supporting the warrant. If the affidavit fails to state Probable cause or contains a false statement, the Warrant may be defective. Evidence seized under a defective warrant may be subject to exclusion from evidence. Without evidence, the Government has no case. A close examination of the affidavit and warrant is always part of the defense of a child pornography case.
Possession was an Accident
Part of the law is that you intentionally and knowingly possessed child pornography. If you did not do it intentionally or knowingly, the argument could be made that you did not commit the crime.
Third parties, like house guests or employees, may have access to your computer. If a third party downloads child pornography to your computer, and you have no involvement or knowledge about this activity, you did not commit a crime. Someone else committed a crime with your computer.
Hackers or viruses on computers or other electronic devices can download illegal images to your computer without your consent or even your knowledge. You may be completely unaware of hundreds of illegal files on your computer. If this is the case, your lawyer can formulate a defense based on that, showing evidence that you have no knowledge or intent.
The Consequences of a Child Pornography Conviction for Texans
While most child pornography cases are filed in Federal Court, sometimes charges are filed in State court. This is most likely to occur where the agency involved in the undercover law enforcement activity is a local or state law enforcement agency. Texas takes crimes involving child pornography seriously, which is reflected in the law regarding penalties associated with the crime. These crimes are typically felonies and can result in prison time and significant fines, depending on your criminal history.
For a first-time child pornography offender, the crime is considered a third-degree felony. That can result in up to 10 years of imprisonment and fines of as much as $10,000.
A second child pornography offense is considered a second-degree felony. For this, you can be penalized with a prison sentence of up to 20 years and fines of as much as $10,000.
Third Offense and Beyond
For those with a third offense or beyond, it is considered a first-degree felony. That may send you to prison for as many as 99 years – considered life in prison – and make you responsible for fines of as much as $10,000.
Beyond prison and fines, you may also be required to register as a sex offender in the state. You can lose custody or visitation of your children, lose the right to own a firearm, and even lose your right to vote.
When facing child pornography charges in Texas, your liberty is on the line. Contact Robert J Fickman at Fickman Criminal Defense today for a free case consultation.
A SUMMARY OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY ROBERT FICKMAN’S CREDENTIALS
- Robert Fickman has been a criminal defense attorney in Houston for 40+ Years.
- Robert Fickman has handled over 300 Federal Cases.
- Robert Fickman has kept some clients from being charged in Federal Court.
- Robert Fickman has obtained the dismissal of some Federal Charges.
- Robert Fickman has gone to trial in Federal Court and obtained acquittals on all charges for some clients. In 2022, Robert Fickman went to trial in United States v. Rebolledo. Robert Fickman’s client was the ONLY client in the entire case to be acquitted on all charges.
- Robert Fickman has argued many cases before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Robert Fickman has had an AV Rating (the highest rating) with Martindale Hubbell for over 20 years.
- Robert Fickman has been named a “Texas Super Lawyer” since 2015.
- Robert Fickman is well-respected by his peers and has received numerous awards.
- Robert Fickman was the President of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association (HCCLA) from 2006-2007.
- Robert Fickman is a past Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA) board member.
- Robert Fickman serves on the HCCLA and TCDLA Strike Forces, where he is called upon to come to the aid of other criminal defense lawyers.
- Robert Fickman is an outstanding public speaker. Robert Fickman was on the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers “Best of 2010 Speakers”, “Best of 2014 Speakers ” and “Best of 2022 Speakers Disc.”
- Robert Fickman was named “Mr. Declaration of Independence.” in the Texas State Bar Journal for his volunteerism.