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C.G.S. Sections 53a-196d; 196e; 196f - Possession of Child Pornography

Possession of Child Pornography Generally

silhouette of a man at a computer Connecticut takes child pornography crimes very seriously and has some of the harshest child pornography penalties in the nation. The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is a terrible worldwide scourge. Individuals who knowingly possess child pornography images are subject to very severe penalties, according to C.G.S. § 53a-196d, e and f. Child pornography possession cases are among the fastest-growing types of criminal accusations in Connecticut.

Many individuals we have represented have reported that they had accidentally downloaded images of child pornography and had no intention to access those images. Downloading adult pornography is not illegal, and sometimes unlawful images are mislabeled or mixed in with other legal photos. If you are accessing pornography on file-sharing networks, you have to be very careful about what images you are downloading.

If you have been contacted by law enforcement about a child pornography investigation, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced Connecticut sex crime attorney before you answer any questions. Often it takes months for charges to be filed, and in some situations, it is possible to expose errors in the state's case and prevent a criminal arrest before it occurs.

Child Pornography Investigations

Prosecutions for violation of C.G.S. § 53a-196d, possession of images of child pornography have become very commonplace in Connecticut. Local and state police have task forces that hunt the internet for evidence of file-sharing or downloads of images or videos of child pornography.

File sharing on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks started in the 1990's with music-sharing service Napster. Since that time, P2P networks have expanded to include movies, video games, pornography, and other file types. A P2P network exists where two or more private computers are connected to a shared network to exchange files. In a P2P network, files can be transferred directly from peers connected to the system without the need for a shared server. Once connected to a P2P network, the user can access files in other peer's computers while other users logged onto the system can access files on your computer, which you have designated to share.

In most child pornography cases, police detectives join file-sharing websites that traffic in child pornography images. As technology has advanced, many P2P networks have employed Bit Torrent technology to run the file sharing, which allows for much faster file transfer. Essentially Bit Torrent is a technology that will enable parts of an individual file to be broken into multiple pieces that are accessed from many different computers on the network. Since the files are broken into many parts, it has become technologically challenging for law enforcement to prove what is contained in each part of the file.

An investigation commences when an officer can match a bit of data found on your hard drive that matches a known sample of child pornography that the police have already have captured. People who use P2P networks are lured into a false sense of security that these networks afford some degree of privacy and security.

Once law enforcement identifies an IP address, they request a warrant to have the service provider provide your name and address. Since anyone at your physical location could have access to the IP address, it is imperative not to make any admissions or answer any questions when the police arrive at your home or office with a search warrant to seize your devices. They take your devices to forensic labs to search for evidence of any child pornography images. If any images are found, detectives will apply for an arrest warrant.

Elements of the Crime Which Must be Proven by The State's Attorney

C.G.S. § 53a-196f - Possessing child pornography in the third degree

To be convicted of possession of child pornography in the third degree in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-196f, the state's attorney must prove that:

  1. The accused knowingly possessed;
  2. Fewer than 20 images of child pornography; or
  3. A series of images in electronic, digital or other format, which is intended to be displayed continuously, of fewer than twenty frames, or a film or video consisting of fewer than 20 frames that depict a single act of sexually explicit conduct by one child.
C.G.S. § 53a-196e - Possessing child pornography in the second degree

To be convicted of possession of child pornography in the second degree in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-196e, the state's attorney must prove that:

  1. The accused knowingly possessed;
  2. More than 20 but less than 50 images of child pornography; or
  3. A series of images in electronic, digital or other format, which is intended to be displayed continuously, consisting of twenty or more frames, or a film or video consisting of more than 20 frames that depict a single act of sexually explicit conduct by one child.
C.G.S. § 53a-196d - Possessing child pornography in the first degree

To be convicted of possession of child pornography in the first degree in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-196d, the state's attorney must prove that:

  1. The accused knowingly possessed;
  2. Fifty or more images of child pornography; or
  3. One or more images or child pornography that depict the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury; or
  4. A series of images in electronic, digital or other format, which is intended to be displayed continuously, consists of two or more frames, or a film or video consisting of two or more frames that depict the following:
  5. More than one child engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
  6. More than one act of sexually explicit conduct by one or more children.
Examples

A man downloads videos and photos of child pornography through P2P filesharing networks. The man later shares these images with other individuals who are interested in these images using an application called Kik. One of the people he was in communication with happened to be an undercover police officer. The police officer applies for a search warrant to obtain the man's IP address and account information with Kik. Another warrant is served on the man's internet provider, and his name and address is located. Police then apply for a search warrant and come to the man's home and secure all his electronic devices. A forensic analysis of the devices relevels that they contain several videos of groups of young children clearly under the age of 16 engaged in sexually explicit conduct as well as more than 70 images of child pornography. The man could be charged with a violation of possession of child pornography in the first degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-196d.

Related Offenses
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-196c - Importing Child Pornography
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-196 - Obscenity as to Minors
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-196a - Employing a Minor in an Obscene Act
Defenses to Possession of Child Pornography Allegations

Just because you are accused of a crime does not mean that you are guilty. The state has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. If your defense attorney can demonstrate that the state lacks enough evidence to establish one of the criminal elements, then the charges against you should be dropped.

Illegal Search of Seizure

Since the vast majority of child pornography possession cases are commenced through search warrants, usually one of the most effective defense tactics is to find evidence of police misconduct or errors that can lead to an invalidation of the search warrant. If the search warrant is illegal, the evidence can be suppressed, and the case is usually dismissed.

Lack of Intent

The state has the burden to prove that you intended to possess child pornography. Many people accidentally download images and then delete them. Just because these images many remain somewhere on your hard drive that a forensics expert can extract does not mean that you intended to possess child pornography.

Proof of Who Possessed the Images

In many situations, IP addresses are shared by many individuals in one location. The state has the burden to prove who specifically accessed the images.

Statutory Affirmative Defense - C.G.S. 53a-196g

The legislature created two statutory defenses to the crime of possession of child pornography. The first defense is anyone who possesses less than three pornographic images who did not knowing obtain them and who promptly took reasonable steps to delete them or report the matter to law enforcement has an affirmative defense. The second statutory affirmative defense is that it is not illegal to possess images of a nude person under the age of sixteen for a bonafide artistic, medical, scientific, educational, religious, governmental or judicial purpose.

Diversionary Programs for First-Time Offenders

Child pornography possession allegations have been expressly prohibited from eligibility in the accelerated rehabilitation program .

Penalties

C.G.S. § 53a-196f possession of child pornography in the third degree is a Class D felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail of which one year is a mandatory minimum sentence that may not be suspended or reduced by the court and a fine of up to $5,000 and sex offender probation and registry.

C.G.S. § 53a-196e possession of child pornography in the second degree is a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail of which two years is a mandatory minimum sentence that may not be suspended or reduced by the court and a fine of up to $10,000 and sex offender probation and registry.

C.G.S. § 53a-196d possession of child pornography in the second degree is a Class C felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail of which five years is a mandatory minimum sentence that may not be suspended or reduced by the court and a fine of up to $15,000 and sex offender probation and registry.

Call Sex Crimes Attorney Allan F. Friedman!

For more information on defending child pornography allegations and to schedule your free initial consultation, contact Attorney Allan F. Friedman , located at 24 Hoyt Street #A, Stamford, CT 06905. Attorney Friedman can be reached 24/7 at (203) 357-5555, or you can contact us online for a prompt response.

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