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Child Pornography Attorney – San Jose, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Dublin/Pleasanton CA


Free Consultation with a Sex Crime Defense Attorney in San Jose, Redwood City or Palo Alto

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Arrested or Under Investigation for Child Pornography Possession or Distribution in Silicon Valley or the Peninsula?

Few criminal accusations can be more traumatic than allegations of possession or distribution of child pornography. Therefore, if you find yourself or a family member in this situation – whether in San Mateo, San Jose or elsewhere in Silicon Valley or the San Francisco Bay Area – you are advised to take action immediately to protect your legal rights.

In child pornography cases, there is no better legal team than the Law Office of James Dunn. Head trial attorney James Dunn, has practiced law in the South Bay for two decades and is recognized as the attorney who beat the odds for his client by changing the law – winning a landmark decision that was upheld by the CA Supreme Court.

The legal team also includes Harvard educated attorney Michelle Spaulding, one of the Bay Area’s only certified criminal law specialists attorney Mara Feiger, skilled law practice manager Robert Preskill and former prosecutor Christine Bogosian.  The legal team has an unrivaled track record defending sex crime cases and is ready to provide you with the defense that you need to beat the odds.

While it’s of course alarming to be accused of a serious crime, it’s also important to remember that a criminal charge is simply an accusation and not a conviction.  All criminal defendants are entitled to the presumption of innocence under the law and a prosecutor must prove his or her case for there to be a conviction.

We take sex crime allegations extremely seriously and have developed a strategy to negotiate favorable outcomes for our clients who face child pornography charges.

Prefile Defense: Defending a Child Pornography Case Before Charges are Filed

If you have been accused of possession of child pornography and perhaps have been notified by federal or state authorities that you are under investigation, then your case is in the pre-file stage.

In these cases, our legal team likes to get involved early with the goal of getting the charges completely dropped.  The benefit of an early defense is that our team has an opportunity to influence the district attorney’s decision on whether or not to prosecute.  If a case is dropped at this stage, then there will be no criminal record at all.  If this is your situation, please contact us immediately because there is only a narrow window of time in which to influence this decision.

If, on the other hand, charges have been filed, we know that our clients usually want to avoid a trial which can be lengthy, expensive and embarrassing. Therefore, we work to resolve the case without trial.  Whether or not a trial is required, our goal is always to avoid sex crime registration and jail time.

What are California’s Child Pornography Laws?

Possession of child pornography is in San Mateo and San Jose is charged under California Penal Code 311.11. The state’s legal code defines child pornography as visual material that displays a minor participating in or simulating sexual conduct. To understand precisely how California Penal Code 311.11 applies to real world situations, it is important to have an understanding of how the statute defines the key terms ‘visual material’ and ‘sexual conduct’.

Visual material is defined broadly. A visual depiction includes basically any form of image or visual information that you can think of. This means that a person could be charged with possession of child pornography over:

  • A photograph;
  • A video;
  • Other video-based recordings;
  • Books or magazines;
  • Computer images;
  • Cell phones images;
  • Online file sharing; and
  • Any other computer-based files or data.

Likewise, the term ‘sexual conduct’ is also defined in a broad manner. In California, sexual conduct can refer to many different things, including:

  • Penetrative sex;
  • Oral sex;
  • Masturbation;
  • Lewd or lascivious touching; and
  • Exhibition of genitals for sexual stimulation of the viewer.

How Do San Mateo and San Jose Prosecutors Prove Child Pornography?

In order to convict a person for possession of child pornography in California, state prosecutors must be able to prove all elements of the crime. This means that they must present evidence that establishes that the defendant knowingly possessed the illicit material and that the material actually meets the state’s definition of child pornography. There are many different ways to ‘possess’ material. Having files or data on one’s computer can qualify as possession.

Prosecutors and law enforcement agencies use many different tactics and strategies when dealing with these types of cases. Investigations can start in a wide range of different ways. In some cases, Bay Area law enforcement officers will conduct large scale ‘sting operations’ over the internet. In other cases, a child pornography investigation may be initiated because of a tip or because a concerned parent found material on a cell phone of a high student.

What are the Legal Defenses to Child Pornography Possession Charges?

As with other criminal cases, defendants are always innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution has the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt in a child pornography possession case. If the prosecution cannot produce sufficient evidence to demonstrate guilt, then the charges must be dismissed. There have been cases in which, for many different reasons, innocent people face wholly invalid charges of child pornography possession. There are also other more complicated cases in which California prosecutors can prove some of the required elements of the crime, but the defendant can produce a valid legal defense against the charges. Notable legal defenses to child pornography possession charges include:

Lack of Possession: If someone sends you a link to child pornography in an email, and you click on it, you are not necessarily guilty of ‘possession’. If illicit material was sent to you, and you unknowingly opened or accessed it, but then immediately deleted, destroyed, or reported it, you are not guilty of possession.
Sufficiency of Age: Prosecutors will often rely on expert witnesses to testify to an unidentified filmed person’s age. If the person displayed in the images or video is of sufficient age, then the content is not, by definition, child pornography.

Lack of Knowledge: In the modern world, a large percentage of child pornography possession cases involve computers. If illicit content was on your computer without your knowledge or consent, either because of a virus, or because of someone else’s actions, you cannot be convicted of possession.

Legitimate material: A person cannot be charged with possession of child pornography over material that is legally approved. More specifically, a person who is using images for valid scientific, educational, or research purposes is not violating California child pornography laws.

Entrapment: If law enforcement officers induced you into committing a legal violation, and you would not have otherwise committed the offense, you may not be guilty of the underlying crime. This is known as ‘entrapment’.

What are the Consequences for a Child Pornography Conviction in California?

Child pornography possession charges must always be taken seriously. If you are convicted of this offense, you could face very harsh consequences. Ultimately, the penalties for this crime will always depend on the specific facts of the case. Indeed, child pornography possession can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor in California. The factors that will be considered when determining the severity of the charges and the penalties include the nature of the material, the amount of the material, and whether or not the pornography was traded commercially. Still, all charges are serious. A conviction for child pornography possession in California could result in:

  • Large fines;
  • Possibility of a strike offense;
  • Extended jail time;
  • Severe reputational damage;
  • Serious professional damage;
  • Loss of certain legal rights and
  • Lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Will I Face Sex Crime Registration in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties?

If you are convicted of a California child pornography offense, in addition to imprisonment, you will further be required to register as a sex offender with the state of California for your lifetime. Sex offender register makes your name, convictions, address, photo, and other personal information publicly accessible online to anyone who conducts a search.

Not surprisingly, having to register as a sex offender can substantially impact your ability to get a job, be accepted to educational programs, obtain or maintain a professional license, or even to get an apartment. For these reasons, you want to avoid sex offender registration requirements whenever possible and our firm will do everything possible to help you avoid registration.

While registration will be required for all felony child molestation convictions, an attorney can request to have you excluded from the requirement is you are being convicted or pleading guilty to misdemeanor annoying or molesting a child under Penal Code 647.6 PC.

At the Law Office of James Dunn, we do not hesitate to represent the rights of clients who are facing difficult charges such as child pornography possession. Our team will do everything in our power for the best result possible in your case, so if you have been arrested or fear you may be soon, do not wait to call us at 650-539-0809 for help.


 

Half the Cost, Twice the Work

Jim Dunn fixed my previous lawyers blunders, literally cost half as much, didn’t charge me until my case was settled. He got me the best possible outcome after miscommunications with the courts, mostly my previous lawyer was to blame. There were countless little things that Jim did that won’t get named here, but he visited me in Jail on a Sunday evening, he fixed the miswriting of the court scribe, a last minute catch on Jim’s part, my case was first, his pay was second. I like him, he is personable, he called to check on me, I could call him and actually reach him, not go through a secretary and hope to be reached in the same day like my last lawyer. I would definitely hire him again and even form a partnership to become the family lawyer. If you have a run in with with law, you want Jim Dunn on your side, he only tells you the truth, and genuinely wants to help you!

Reviewer: Charlie M. — September 4, 2015 – San Mateo, CA