Being accused of possessing or viewing child pornography is a horrible experience. It ruins reputations, and the alleged offender can lose their job or even their housing. Furthermore, they may be forced to register as a sexual offender, limiting where they can live. All these consequences can be heaped on someone who never laid a hand on a child.
In this article, we will broadly explore the topic of child pornography allegations, specifically how they relate to Virginia citizens.
4 Ways You Could Be Falsely Accused of Child Pornography
These days, simply scrolling through the internet is risky. Many websites can attach themselves to your browser, downloading and uploading material without your knowledge. This problem compounds if you visit sites featuring adult material with people engaged in consensual acts.
Furthermore, some unscrupulous actors specifically target people in internet blackmail schemes. They can place files onto your computer without your knowledge and hold you hostage with those files later.
With all this activity, you’re never fully sure of what’s on your computer or phone. It’s important to regularly run virus checks on your computer. These programs can help clean out unwanted files you never asked for, keeping you free from ugly legal problems.
Metadata is extra information attached to a file. With images and videos, metadata can tell you when the file was created, who created it, where it was created, and so on.
Clever hackers can manipulate this data, creating false origin points. Doing so can implicate people who were never involved in creating or distributing these files.
- Juvenile Communications
Age of consent laws get fuzzy as people enter adulthood. For instance, some states allow an 18-year-old to be in a consensual relationship with someone a couple years younger. Others draw a hard line at 18.
Virginia is one of these hardline states. Technically, it is unlawful for someone who just turned 18 to be in a sexual relationship with someone just one month younger.
This standard creates a problem when it comes to child pornography. Imagine an 18-year-old who shares sexual images with their 17-year-old boyfriend/girlfriend. The images are completely consensual, and no one is distributing or selling them. Technically, an angry parent could accuse the young adult of child pornography.
- Misunderstood Images
We live our lives on social media. People post pictures of their children or even create separate profiles just for that purpose.
Completely innocent images could be misinterpreted by overzealous followers. They could accuse you of distributing child pornography, leaving you to wonder how you got into this situation.
Virginia’s Child Pornography Penalties
The state recognizes two different offenses: possession and distribution. Penalties grow more severe with each passing offense.
A first offense is a Class 6 felony. A guilty sentence can result in up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $2,500.
For a second offense or more, alleged offenders are charged with a Class 5 felony. Punishments include up to 10 years in prison and fines as high as $2,500.
Distribution of child pornography is a more severe offense than possession. The law wants to stop the issue at its source, and it assumes that the distributor was somehow involved in creating the material.
A first-time offender faces an “unclassified” felony. If convicted, they could spend up to 20 years in prison. When the crime involves a website that takes in money to view the illicit images, the charge becomes a Class 4 felony, with prison terms of up to 10 years and fines up to $100,000.
If convicted two or more times, the penalties remain mostly the same, except there is a mandatory 5-year prison sentence.
Our firm is here to help defend you from criminal allegations. We will listen to your side of the story, and we will dedicate ourselves to helping preserve your innocent. For a free consultation, call us today at (757) 267-4949 or contact us online.