We have written often about the importance of hiring an experienced attorney to represent you in the event you are charged with a child pornography offense in federal court. The penalties are simply much too severe to risk retaining an attorney who has not had significant experience in handling these types of cases. A recent experience at our firm highlighted this.
A client called us right before another attorney he had retained was about to have him plead guilty to distribution of child pornography using a file-sharing program. The distribution charge carried a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment and a maximum sentence of twenty years imprisonment and sentencing guidelines significantly greater than a plea to simple possession of child pornography.
After discussing the matter with us, he decided to retain our firm to take over his representation. At our initial meeting, I learned that the client would share child pornography when he was at work using a file-sharing program. We then discovered that he worked outside of the federal district where the charges had been brought. In other words, although he possessed the child pornography in the district where he was charged, because he lived in that district and took his computer home, the file sharing actually took place outside the district. Under the law, a defendant can only be charged in the district where the alleged offense(s) took place. Ultimately, even though the other attorney had attempted to convince him he needed to plead guilty to distribution of child pornography, we secured a plea to possession of child pornography because the venue was not proper for the distribution charge in the district where he was indicted. That difference saved the client approximately 5-10 years imprisonment.