What Charges Will I Face for Accidentally Accessing Child Pornographic Content on the Internet?

Often, while surfing the internet, you come across certain sites where you might find links which you click intending to download a movie or a TV series and quite to the contrary, you land up in child pornography. You definitely close the window but you are constantly plagued by the thought whether you are being tracked by the police or whether you can face criminal prosecution for this mistake.

Accidently stumbling across a child pornographic link is certainly a horrifying situation in terms of legal entanglements. One of the harshest and stringent laws are passed for sex crimes that involve children. Not only are these criminal allegations serious for the sort of penalties you will be exposed to but the kind of social stigma that these carry and is often reviled by family, friends, and including spouses.

Pennsylvania also imposes quite strict penalties for such criminal charges upon those who have been proven guilty for the possession of and practice in making of child pornography.

According to the 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6312(d), child pornography possession can be described as-“Any person who intentionally views or knowingly possesses or controls any book, magazine, pamphlet, slide, photograph, film, videotape, computer depiction or other material depicting a child under the age of 18 years engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such act commits an offense.”

The internet consists of content which is not labeled or mislabeled too, and there will be people with malicious intent who purposely try to misname files and share them in order to incriminate the users. Therefore, it becomes crucial to prove the fact that your viewing of any such material was purely accidental and was not at all deliberate. Here are a few things that should be considered while taking a decision in this regard.

  1. What amount of time was spent by the viewer on this particular site?
  2. Was any of the links or the files that were accessed by the viewer shared or distributed elsewhere?
  3. Was the content being accessed by the owner of the computer or was it a guest using it?

Possession of child pornography is classified as a federal crime if the possession entails the transfer of content across states using the computer. But even the federal statute too, in a similar fashion to Pennsylvania statute, emphasizes on the deliberate possession or accessing of the content. The statute also covers 2 kinds of defenses that may be used by a lawyer to protect the defendant.

  • Possession of fewer than 3 images by the defendant
  • Reasonable steps taken by the defendant to destroy the image or filed a report to the law enforcement agency regarding the issue and enabled the agency to access the image without sharing or distributing it to the public

State and federal statutes try to give ample protection to people who have been accidentally involved in a pornographic content involving children or minors. But it is essential that if you or someone you know finds themselves entangled in such a matter, you should ensure that they resort to an experienced and skilled Pittsburgh criminal lawyer who will be able to give the best legal representation along with protecting your rights and interests effectively.

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