The charge of possessing child pornography carries the practical fears inherent in any felony case and the fear of public recrimination.
A structured multi-faceted defense is an absolute necessity.
The Initial client meeting.
A common characteristic in these matters is that the typical client presents with no prior criminal history and often a storied background filled with demonstrative examples of personal and professional success. Such an individual is normally and initially gravely stricken by the nature of the charge.
It is essential to appreciate from the very first stage of defense that an individual can never defined by one thing. This wasteful exercise is merely labeling – a means of diminishing complex individuals into easy categories.
The defense starts with a complete and thorough background review. The client must communicate as much information as possible to his lawyer. This process requires several meetings, each intended to build a better understanding of the client and create an environment of trust.
Medical and psychological evaluation resulting in diagnostic analysis and treatment collectively plays a vital role. Therefore from the initial defense stage, referrals for these services lead to a better understanding of the client and play a pivotal role in trial preparation.
As in defending any criminal charge, the level of preparation is the biggest indicator of a successful ultimate outcome. It has been said that “luck” is where preparation meets opportunity. In a charge of possession of child pornography, a demand for and exhaustive review of all of the prosecutor’s evidence is paramount. In addition to the potential physical evidence, these matters often feature numerous alleged client statements to law enforcement. All witness statements and particularly statements by the accused must be carefully reviewed.
Public interest and political demand combine to make this area of law very fluid. There is a constant flow of new case law each altering and forging an ever-changing legal landscape. There are numerous and complicated challenges in the prosecution of child pornography. One of the most challenging issues involves images stored in temporary Internet files. Part of the legal analysis requires a strong technical understanding of both caches and the nature and quality of the forensic examinations used by investigators.
While each case is unique, there is a process that remains common to all. First and foremost, an accurate and complete understanding of the client must be made. Often the background study should be coupled with appropriate medical referrals. The next step is to collect and carefully examine the prosecutor’s evidence. Of absolute importance the defense must possess an in-depth appreciation of relevant case law. It is at this point that a detailed strategy is formed. Defense of these cases often requires demand for pre-trial hearings. For example, evidence obtained in violation of a client’s constitutional rights may lead to its suppression.
Trial or Plea.
The lawyer is the client’s confidential advisor and director of defense. The lawyer’s role is to present options and make guiding recommendations. In making his recommendations, the lawyer relies heavily on his experience from prior cases. It is important to remember, the decision whether to take a case to trial or to enter into a plea ultimately rests with the client. That decision is made much easier when the client is fully informed on the nature of the evidence against him and has a good understanding of the law.