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What am I facing on a charge of distribution of child pornography?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2024 | child pornography |

In Maryland, the law distinguishes between possession of child pornography and the production or distribution of it, either physically or digitally. It’s important in any discussion related to a charge of distribution of child pornography to remember that a conviction requires both an act and a state of mind.

In Maryland law, the term “distribute” means to transfer possession. This is more of a focus when physical materials are involved instead of digital materials because it is much easier to identify when a transfer of possession has happened with something tangible. The advent of video-streaming technology, combined with the fact that digital versions of images are technically duplicated when then sent from one person to another—not transferred. The original file still exists in the owner’s possession.

There is also a requirement that the transfer be made “knowingly,” which means having knowledge of the character and content of the matter.  This presents another issue for the digital age.  A person can send an innocently titled folder of files to another individual—something like “Summer Vacation Photos,” for example.  Due to the nature of computers, however, those files could have been child pornography, and the sender would have no way of knowing that if they never opened the files themselves.  This factor is critical to the charge of distributing child pornography; without it, the entire case falls apart.

So now that we know what’s prohibited, let’s discuss the penalties.  First-time offenders convicted of possession are guilty of a misdemeanor and could face imprisonment not to exceed five years, a $2,500 fine, or both.  If someone has broken this law before and is convicted on a subsequent charge of distribution of child pornography, it becomes a felony, and that penalty jumps up to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

How can Maronick Law help?

 If you think you may be facing a charge of distribution of child pornography, the attorneys at Maronick Law stand ready and eager to help defend you.

In order to find you guilty, the prosecutor in your case would have to prove the various elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, which equates to a level of certainty of roughly 98-99%.  Anything less certain than that, and a judge or jury must find you not guilty.  There is also a special defense that we could help you assert if you took reasonable steps to destroy each visual representation or if you reported the matter to a law enforcement agency.  It is also not a violation of the statute for a parent to have a visual representation of their own child in the nude, so long as they’re not engaged as a subject of sadomasochistic abuse or in a state of sexual conduct and in a state of sexual excitement.  Our attorneys have the training, knowledge, and experience to understand the elements of this charge that are ripe for attack and are fully prepared to represent you through trial.

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