Wilmington Child Pornography Lawyer

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Child pornography charges can draw significant attention and focus from the prosecution. It’s an issue that is going to have an emotional impact on the courtroom, and the prosecution is sure to use that to their advantage. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that those facing these charges have a Wilmington child pornography lawyer on their side who is prepared for such a difficult challenge.

When you’re represented by the W. James Payne Law Firm, you have someone with more than 30 years of experience defending you against serious criminal offenses. This experience can be critical to providing you with quality representation. We understand the legal and emotional challenges involved in defending against child pornography charges and are prepared to do all we can to achieve a favorable outcome.

What Is the Role of a Wilmington Child Pornography Lawyer?

A Wilmington child pornography lawyer represents their client to the prosecution, court, and others in service of defending their clients against the accusations they face and advocating for their interests. In addition to representation, lawyers can also give legal advice to their clients, which can often be critical for those faced with child pornography charges.

A lawyer will be able to explain the charges you are facing, as well as the penalties that could come along with a conviction. They can also provide their clients with a realistic assessment of their case and the options that may be available to them, such as accepting a plea deal.

The foundation of a lawyer’s role is often a thorough investigation of the case. They will need to understand the circumstances surrounding the charges and the evidence that may be stacked against you. They will also strive to identify evidence and other factors that could be helpful in preparing a defense should the case go to trial. The power of a subpoena may also be helpful in gathering evidence that might not otherwise be attainable.

A critical component of preparing a defense is identifying how the prosecution could be expected to prove your guilt. Through the process of discovery, your lawyer will have access to the same evidence as the prosecution. This means they will be able to identify some of the potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Often, putting a spotlight on these flaws can be helpful in placing doubt into the minds of jurors.

Planning a solid defense, however, may not only be reactive but could also be proactive. Your lawyer may look for some other means of defense that provide an alternative explanation for your innocence rather than only relying on discrediting the prosecution’s case.

Taking a Plea Deal vs. Going to Trial

While your lawyer will have a strong understanding of your case and the possibilities for defense, the reality is that most cases never make it to the point of trial. It’s possible that the prosecution may have an interest in agreeing to a plea deal with you rather than going to trial.

This can have some significant advantages, as it will often involve lesser charges and penalties than those you risk by going to trial. It’s the job of your lawyer to negotiate with the prosecution and seek an optimal deal on your behalf.

If your case does go to trial, your lawyer’s defense will often begin beforehand in motions and hearings. If there are sufficient grounds for dismissal or disallowing evidence that was obtained unlawfully, your lawyer will petition the court regarding these matters. Although rare, there are some occasions when evidence of some kind being disallowed could weaken the prosecution’s case to the point where they withdraw the charges.

If the case does go to court, your lawyer will make the strongest argument for your defense that they can. However, even a well-argued case is sometimes not enough to persuade a jury, in which case your lawyer will continue to advocate for you and make a case for a lighter sentence.

What Are Wilmington Child Pornography Charges?

There are several different statutes under North Carolina law that relate to the issue of child pornography. The primary statutes are those regarding sexual exploitation of a minor, which is charged in three degrees:

  • First-Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. The most serious of these charges, this crime targets those who are involved in the production of any explicit material that involves minors. It also applies to those who allow minors of whom they have custody or control to engage in sexual activity for the production of explicit material or a live performance.

The charges are considered a Class C felony. Even if a defendant believed that the minor was an adult, this cannot be used as a defense.

  • Second-Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. These are charges for the distribution of any material that depicts minors involved in sexual acts. This is a Class E felony charge.
  • Third-Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. This is charged when someone is suspected of knowingly possessing material of a minor engaging in sexual activity. It is charged as a Class H felony.

What Are Federal Child Pornography Charges?

Child pornography is an issue that could result in more than just North Carolina charges. Defendants could also incur federal charges. There are a few different statutes that could be the basis of charges tried in federal courts, including:

  • Sexual Exploitation of Children. It is illegal to employ, coerce, use, persuade, entice, or induce a minor to engage in a sexual activity for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the activity. The specifics of the situation will largely determine the penalties that anyone convicted of these charges will face.
  • Certain Activities Relating to Material Involving the Sexual Exploitation of Minors. This statute targets using interstate or foreign commerce, including possible internet usage, to distribute, possess, ship, receive, or transport material that contains child pornography. Here again, the penalties will vary significantly depending on the nature of the offense and other relevant factors.
  • Production of Sexually Explicit Depictions of a Minor for Importation into the United States. This statute targets the international trafficking and production of child pornography by making it illegal to produce sexually explicit depictions of a minor to be imported into the United States.

What Should You Do if You’re Being Investigated for Child Pornography Charges?

If you’re being arrested on child pornography charges or if you’ve learned that you’re being investigated, there are a few things to remember to prevent making the situation worse. It’s easy to make such difficult circumstances even more devastating if you aren’t careful to protect your rights.

Be Calm

The first thing to remember is to remain calm. It’s easy to panic or get emotionally charged when you realize what’s happening. However, acting out of those emotions is only likely to make things worse. You may also want to avoid saying or doing something that could later be used against you.

It’s understandable to be emotional, but remember that the legal process ensures you have the opportunity to defend yourself. Although it may be hard, you should trust that process and wait for the opportunity to arise.

Be Silent

One of the most significant risks in acting out of emotion is that you could mistakenly say something that could be used against you. You have the right against self-incrimination and the right to remain silent, both of which are guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. It’s important to make use of those rights.

Officers and investigators are well-trained at identifying anything you might say that could be used against you by the prosecution. They are even trained to try to encourage you to speak. In some cases, what seems like innocent small talk may really be an attempt to get you relaxed and let your guard down. It’s better, though, to say as little as possible until you’ve had the chance to speak with your lawyer.

Contact Your Lawyer

It’s critical that you contact your lawyer as soon as you possibly can. Even if you are not arrested but learn that you are being investigated, you need to speak with a lawyer, like W. James Payne, as quickly as possible. We can help you defend your constitutional rights, such as the right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures.

The sooner that you get in contact with us, the sooner we will be able to begin assessing your case and advising you as to how you should proceed. We can also begin preparing your defense and possibly discussing a plea deal with the prosecution if that’s a route that you would like to consider.

Sex Offender Registration

In many situations, a conviction for child pornography charges will result in the need to register as a sex offender. There will usually be a specific amount of time during which the convicted will need to remain on the register, but there are also some charges that result in the lifetime need to register.

Registering as a sex offender needs to be done with the sheriff of the county within three business days of being released from custody. The registrant will need to provide personal information, including where they will be residing, working, vehicles they may be using, and other relevant details. Should any of this information change, they will be required to report those changes within three business days. They will also be required to verify the information on file periodically.

The public will be able to access the registry and identify the locations and offenses of registrants. Failing to adhere to the requirements of the registry is a felony crime.

Defending Against Child Pornography Charges

Defending against child pornography charges can be challenging. There are a few different approaches that could be taken depending on the specifics of the case. They include:

  • Unintentional Possession. It’s possible that someone may have come into possession of child pornography, usually digitally, without having sought it out or intended to do so. They may even be unaware that it is in their possession. If it can be shown that something like spam emails or hacking is to blame, then this could be a valid defense.
  • Lack of Knowledge. Similar to unintentional possession, someone could not have known they were distributing these materials. This is also difficult to prove, but it could be applicable in some situations.

    For instance, someone may have purchased a second-hand digital storage drive with these illegal materials on it. If they then sold that drive, it could be considered the distribution of child pornography. However, if they never used the drive and discovered the material, then that could result in an acquittal.

  • False Accusation. Another option, which is also difficult to prove, is that there is some sort of manipulation or fabrication around the evidence used against the defendant, making it a false accusation. However, there will likely need to be some sort of paper trail or digital record that can demonstrate the fabrication.

Get the Help You Need Defending Against Child Pornography Charges

The penalties for child pornography charges, both at the state and federal levels, are significant. Facing these charges is intimidating, and it can be frightening to realize what a conviction could mean. To give yourself the strongest possibility of avoiding a conviction or the most significant penalties you could be facing, it’s important to have a skilled Wilmington child pornography lawyer on your side.

We have experience defending some of the most challenging cases at the W. James Payne Law Firm. Our experience is vital in crafting an effective defense or negotiating a reasonable plea deal. We take the time to listen carefully to our clients’ needs and interests during the defense process, and we fiercely pursue their objectives. As our past clients can attest to, we are client-focused and dedicated to your interests.

We recognize how difficult it can be when facing accusations of crimes like child pornography. However, we are prepared to do whatever we can to work toward a favorable case outcome. Reach out to our team to hear how we may be able to help you.