Military Internet Stings / Child Pornography Charges
Child Pornography Charges Following an Internet Sting
An Internet sting can be a rude awakening to people who mistakenly believe that what they search for, view, and download from the Internet, in the privacy of their homes or government quarters, is no one’s business. That is simply not the case. The Internet has brought forth great changes in our lives, but coupled with those changes come series of criminal offenses referred to as Internet Crimes which are detectable by investigators with access to what you do on the Internet from anywhere on the planet.
Civilian law enforcement and Military CID agencies are investing enormous resources of time investigating (if not outright “trolling” for suspects) who might use the Internet for offenses related to children. Child pornography refers to images or films and, in some cases, writings depicting sexually explicit activities involving a child.
Child Pornography Sting Operations on the Rise
In the United States, the fastest growing criminal prosecutions of all time involve Internet sex crimes including the viewing, downloading, possession, and distribution of child pornography. Every day, CID agencies, state and other federal law enforcement agencies are actively searching the Internet seeking to find people to arrest on child pornography charges.
One favorite tool is an Internet sting – where law enforcement and missing/exploited children volunteers pretend to be child porn peddlers, or might pose as underage “minors” in chat rooms, or will create fake Facebook account posing as a minor under 18 years of age. Adults who respond to the peddlers, or strike up a conversation with someone posing as a minor and that conversation exceeds the boundaries of good taste or lawful behavior will likely be tracked down by their IP address and arrested at their home or workplace. Does that seem like “entrapment?” Does that seem like “Big Brother” government? Many privacy experts and constitutional scholars are very concerned. No matter one’s viewpoint, prosecutions are soaring and military servicemembers are being swept up in both military and civilian law enforcement nets.
Possible Defenses to Child Pornography Charges
In all criminal cases, there are defenses to be found in the “law” and in the “facts.” A skilled criminal defense attorney will compile both into a strong defense case. There are technical reasons why child pornography might be on the accused computer or other device. Visiting what one might think is a “legal” adult website, may be infected with what’s called Malware – a virus that can propagate from the adult website to ones computer for the purpose of having an illegal distribution node on an unsuspecting person’s computer. Most Malware comes from areas of the old Soviet Union and Indonesia where criminal enterprises can flourish without much fear of law enforcement. These criminals target 1,000′s of computers all over the world to use them to send out spam, and from where to more-safely distribute child pornography.
“My son in law who was in the Marine Corps was facing charges for possession of child pornography. I wanted to ensure that my son-in-law was represented by an attorney with experience in military law, and Gary Barthel came highly recommended by a trusted attorney and friend. Gary Barthel was instrumental in guiding us through the entire general court martial and military justice process. As a result of his thorough preparation and development of a strong sentencing case, Gary succeeded in getting the Court to dismiss the government’s request for eight-year confinement and instead the Judge only awarded our son-in-law 18 months.”
When Innocent of Charges – Malware, Computer Hijacking a real possibility
In other cases, child pornographers in the U.S. who make serious money selling images and videos, use similar Malware and viruses which can be disseminated from adult sites and spam emails that might promise free Viagra, or pose as a message from your bank, or from a friend actually in your contact list.
When you visit an infected website, or click on that Viagra link, or open that email with a friends name appearing as “sender,” you may have just clicked on a Trojan-horse that immediately installs clandestine software, often called Malware, that has just “hijacked” that computer without the owner’s knowledge nor consent. The Malware’s programmed purpose is to become one of thousands of “relay computers” to disseminate child pornography without the actual perpetrators having to risk having incriminating and illegal materials on their own computers.
Unintentional downloading of child pornography:
There are many possible scenarios. There are other defend-able circumstances where illegal images might come from sites you visited for “legal” adult entertainment. In a typical scenario, visitors will “click” the wrong link by mistake (links are purposefully styled to be confusing on adult sites so you will be tricked into visiting that sites’ sponsors —random, other websites all over the world). Sometimes a thumbnail image is a legal image, but the larger picture or download linked to that image was an illegal image or was a Malware installer. Other defense opportunities arise when the government computer you use, or your own computer is not secure —when numerous others have access to the computer connected to criminal charges. If you have been falsely accused of a sex crime involving child pornography, or been targeted by an Internet sting, it is imperative that you contact a skilled criminal law attorney as soon as possible.
Malware is blossoming everywhere:
“Malware” is short for malicious (or malevolent) software. Malware is clandestine software used or created by attackers to gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems, hijacking the computer to be used as a broadcaster of spam and/or a remote distribution point for criminal enterprises. It can appear in the form of code, scripts, active content, and other software. Malware is a general term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive take-over software.
When Guilty of Possessing or Downloading Child Pornography
It happens. People make mistakes and those mistakes are uncovered by both civilian and military law enforcement. The consequences of possessing child pornography or if you had an illicit “chat room,” Facebook, email, or other computer-based exchange with a minor under 18-years of age, or unknowingly with a law enforcement investigator posing as a minor (Internet sting) —those consequences can be harsh.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you by negotiating and advocating on your behalf. Negotiations will often result in lessened charges and/or elimination or reduction of punishment. If the charges have illuminated a serious personal issue you’ve avoided confronting and dealing with, your defense attorney can help you find a treatment program that could help you in the long run, while, in the near term, perhaps work toward keeping you out of a Federal prison. You need an attorney who can properly access your unique predicament then communicate and negotiate with your command or outside state or Federal Prosecutor. If you decide “go it alone,” the chances for a good outcome are slim. You need experienced and aggressive legal help just as much —or more, when you are guilty, as if you were falsely accused in an Internet sting gone awry.
As with allegations of rape, there is little public sympathy toward those accused possessing child pornography or soliciting a minor —even for those who have been wrongly accused. Everyone will presume you are guilty. You will likely be abandoned and avoided by friends and even family. If this is your situation, you absolutely need an experienced military attorney on your side who has experience and compassion for people needing a strong and supportive advocate on their side, and who will do all that is possible to make certain that you get a fair hearing and the best possible outcome.
Make sure that you get the right help from a Civilian Military Attorney, in San Diego or Worldwide, built to support your needs. Military Law Center Is Ready to Help You – Right Now. Military Law Center will aggressively advise and defend you – Know Your Military Legal Rights.