In the Commonwealth of Virginia, you get charged with child pornography if you are accused of taking part in or enabling the distribution, possession, and reproduction of sexually explicit photographs or videos that involve a minor.
Both possession and production of sexually provocative imagery or depictions of sexual activity involving a child under the age of 18 can get you charged with child pornography. Though producing the material can lead to harsher penalties, the Virginia law states that in case of possession, the intention of the person found culpable is irrelevant. Even sexting can get you charged with child pornography in some cases. A child pornography possession charge can also stem even if you never downloaded any lewd material. However, the files got cached on the web browser of your computer which comes under “possessing.”
A person indicted with child pornography charges can face some harsh penalties that include a maximum of 30 years in prison and getting your name on the sex offender registry of Virginia, the consequences can last a lifetime in some cases, and thus it is necessary to strategize a solid defense.
The key factors that are considered while evaluating child pornography cases in Virginia are: whether the material can be considered sexually explicit according to the legal definition and whether the defendant was aware that there are minors involved or that they possess the material.
The material is usually found after someone reports you for possession of child pornography. The law enforcement officers get a search warrant to look for evidence. It is possible to question the legitimacy of the warrant as any evidence found with an illegally obtained warrant cannot be used at trial. It is necessary to refer to an attorney immediately as a precautionary measure even if you have not been indicted yet if your house becomes the subject of a search.
In a lot of cases, the accused is not aware that they possessed the material as the illegal files may have been planted while downloading software or application from the internet or by clicking on a link that leads to the files getting downloaded on the computer without the person’s knowledge. It is also possible that the defendant wasn’t the only one with access to the computer, cellular or any digital device involved in the possession. He could’ve also been using a shared computer which enables a lot of users, and someone else could’ve downloaded the material without the culprit’s knowledge.
Considering that simply viewing pornographic material is not grounds for a child pornography charge, it is also possible that the accused was not aware that the actors are under the age of 18 which is something that can be used in his defense.
Lastly, it is necessary to consult an experienced attorney who is well-informed regarding the sex crime laws in Virginia to strategize your defense against the child pornography charge effectively.