A story in this week’s Stamford Advocate reports how a Stamford plumber was sentenced to 5 years jail and 20 years probation for Possession of Child Pornography in the First Degree. While I would never condone possession of child pornography, I still cannot understand how the Connecticut penal code can impose such tough sentences on certain people arrested in Stamford, Greenwich, Westport, New Canaan and Darien with Possession of Child Pornography for possession—not distribution—of Child Pornography under CGS 53a-196b. Especially when the downloading of the illegal images is mixed in with primarily legal pornographic images.
How many images must you be in possession of to receive the mandatory minimum 5-year jail sentence? And does it matter that the illegal, pornographic images are downloaded accidentally? The answers are not what you think…
One of the most common ways Greenwich and Stamford police arrest people for downloading and possessing child pornography is through monitoring peer-to-peer file sharing websites. These sites are where legal and illegal pornography is traded, downloaded or otherwise distributed. With the assistance of federal funding, computer crime detectives in Stamford, Greenwich, Weston, Easton, New Canaan and Darien have teamed up to create the “Computer Crimes and Electronic Evidence Laboratory.” This regional, collaborative effort between these police departments provide investigators and prosecutors with state-of-the-art technology and tracking software which assist the authorities in detecting which IP addresses are downloading child pornography in Southwestern Connecticut. Once police determine who is downloading or selling the child pornography, they immediately apply for search warrants in the Stamford and Norwalk criminal courts to determine the identity of the downloader. Then they go and get search warrants requesting court permission to raid the suspect’s home and seize all their computers, hard drivers, iPads and cell phones. After all these items are seized, they are then sent to the Connecticut Computer Crime Lab for a forensic examination. If illegal pornographic images are in fact found on these items, then you can be arrested for Possession of Child Pornography in either the First, Second, or Third Degrees under CGS 53a-196.
Ask any of the best Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyers around—they will tell you how harsh the penalties and mandatory minimum jail sentences are for Possession of Child Pornography arrests in Stamford, Greenwich, Westport and Darien. And it’s not just the jail time that is severe—all Child Pornography guilty pleas and convictions are followed by onerous and burdensome periods of sex offender probation. This is not just ordinary probation—it is a special type of sex offender probation that can go on for 10 to 20 years and includes the following: submitting to lie detector / polygraph tests, restrictions on being around children, and random audits and searches of your personal and work computers. Additionally, public sex offender registration is also part and parcel of any 53a-196 Possession of Child Pornography conviction.
So as you can see, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The length of the mandatory minimum jail sentences depend on the degree of the Possession charge and the number of images you are accused of possessing. First Degree Possession under C.G.S. 53a-196d involves 50 or more images and calls for up to 20 years of jail, 5 years which cannot be reduced for any reason. Arrests in Stamford, Fairfield, Greenwich and Darien for Possession of Child Pornography in the Second Degree under C.G.S. 53a-196e is for 20 to 49 child porn images, carrying a maximum of 10 years in jail, 2 years which are mandatory. The least serious crime is Third Degree Possession of Child Pornography under C.G.S. 53a-196f, for people accused of possessing 1 to 20 images, carrying a maximum of 5 years in jail, with the first year being mandatory, as it cannot be reduced or suspended for any reason. Regardless of the degree charged or pled out to, there is mandatory time, and usually that time is served day-for-day with very little credit given for good behavior. Thus, it is critical that you consult a top Stamford Connecticut Child Pornography criminal lawyer to explore all options in getting your charges reduced or dismissed and trying to take some of the more onerous pieces of a plea off the table—such as fighting for less jail time, negotiating a shorter period of sex offender probation, limiting your sex offender registration to just law enforcement and not having it be made public in a national sex offender registry, and reducing the amount of fines required to be paid to court.
Top Stamford Connecticut criminal attorneys and lawyers will approach and attack a Child Pornography on several fronts. First, they may engage the services of a forensic examiner and investigator to conduct a thorough examination of the alleged illegal pornographic photos and videos. Do these images really qualify as “Child Pornography” under the letter of the Connecticut criminal code? Are these participants in the videos truly underage or do they just look underage? And how are prosecutors going to prove that these participants are in fact underage at the time they were being photographed or videotaped?
You and your top Connecticut child pornography lawyer should also consider presenting the prosecutor and judge with a comprehensive psychological evaluation that will hopefully show the court that you are not a sex offender and are not at risk for re-offending. This is not just a routine evaluation—it is a very technical and thorough evaluation that follows certain protocols to screen individuals for sexual deviance and mental health disease. If you can pass an evaluation like this, then it is very helpful to your Stamford and Greenwich Connecticut Possession of Child Pornography case so be sure to discuss undergoing an evaluation like this with Stamford Connecticut criminal attorney.
Click here to learn more about how the Mark Sherman Law team of criminal lawyers can fight your C.G.S. 53a-196 Possession of Child Pornography arrest in Stamford, Westport, Fairfield, Darien and Greenwich Connecticut. We know how high the stakes are in cases like these and will work aggressively and cost-effectively with you to try and get you the best results possible. Call us today for a consultation.