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Military Pornography Crimes

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Child pornography cases are among the most difficult cases to defend because the moral outrage over the offense is significant, the collateral consequences are great, and the law is complicated. For those reasons, there is tremendous pressure on an accused service member to plead. Before that sort of life-changing decision is made, you should seek counsel from an experienced military criminal defense lawyer.

Child pornography is an Article 134 offense in the military. The elements are:

Possessing, receiving, or viewing child pornography

  • That the accused knowingly and wrongfully possessed, received, or viewed child pornography; and,
  • That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Possessing child pornography with intent to distribute

  • That the accused knowingly and wrongfully possessed child pornography;
  • That the possession was with the intent to distribute; and,
  • That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Distributing child pornography

  • That the accused knowingly and wrongfully distributed child pornography to another; and,
  • That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Producing child pornography

  • That the accused knowingly and wrongfully produced child pornography; and,
  • That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

The lesser-included offenses for possession, receiving, or viewing child pornography are Article 80 – attempts. For all other offenses, the lesser-included offenses are Article 80 – attempts and Article 134 – possessing child pornography.

Call (800) 355-1095 to arrange a free consultation with attorneys experienced in military pornography crimes at Gary Myers, Daniel Conway & Associates.

Maximum Punishment

The maximum punishment for all offenses is a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. The term of confinement increases per offense:

  • For possessing, receiving, or viewing child pornography the maximum term of confinement is 10 years
  • For possession with intent to distribute, the maximum confinement is 15 years
  • For distributing child pornography the maximum confinement is 20 years
  • For producing child pornography the maximum confinement is 30 years

About Military Pornography Law

Under the law, child pornography is “…material that contains either an obscene visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct or a visual depiction of an actual minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”

In many cases, the visual depictions of minors are clearly of sexually explicit conduct. In other cases, - particularly clothed images - it's not as clear.

Law enforcement and prosecutors have become exceptionally sophisticated and experienced at prosecuting child pornography cases. The inflammatory nature of the offense and substantial punishments makes the decision to plead or contest the case exceptionally difficult. For inexperienced defense lawyers, a child pornography case requires a steep learning curve in terms of digital forensics, mental health aspects of the client, and often the presentation of a compelling sentencing case in mitigation.

Building Your Defense

One of the first steps by defense counsel should be a close examination of any searches and seizures that occurred. Secondly, defense counsel may seek to obtain certain experts. Counsel will probably need a digital forensic examiner. A mental health professional will be required to examine the client and possibly make a risk assessment. Finally, if the images warrant, a doctor could be required to assess whether the images actually depict minors. We have certainly seen cases where doctors were unable to determine the age of the individual in the images. Defense counsel should carefully scrutinize the charge sheet, particularly if possession of a large number of images or videos is alleged.

Often child pornography cases involve a substantial need for a case in mitigation. Sentences have steadily risen in child pornography cases because there is fear the offenders are more likely to commit physical abuses against children. Expert testimony may be required to discuss recidivism rates. An expert can conduct a neuropsychiatric exam. Sometimes the STATIC-99 actuarial risk assessment methodology can be useful – though some question the reliability of the assessments.

Recent law does permit the accused in an unsworn statement to mention potential sex offender registration. United States v. Talkington, 73 M.J. 212 (C.A.A.F. 2013)

Schedule your free initial consultation with the military pornography crime lawyers of Gary Myers, Daniel Conway & Associates today by calling (800) 355-1095.

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