Child Pornography

In Delaware it is illegal to possess or transmit any type of child pornography. Child pornography is defined as children engaging in any type of sexual act or simulating any type of sexual act. In Delaware, a child is defined as under 18 years of age. That means an image of a 17 year old in a sex act is illegal and an image of an 18 year old would be legal.

Internet Child Pornography Arrests

How do the police catch offenders looking at child pornography over the internet? Offenders typically obtain pornographic images of children using "peer to peer" (P2P) networks or "peer to peer" file sharing. Basically, P2P file sharing works when a computer user downloads the same P2P software as other users. The user can then share files over the internet with other computer users that have that same software. Common P2P programs include Guntella, eDonkey/eMule, and Limewire. Delaware law enforcement has automated software that searches the peer to peer networks for users that are sharing files depicting child pornography. The software simply gathers the file names and other unique identifying information of the child porn files such as hash values. Law enforcement are trained to identify common child porn file names and hash values. The software logs the IP address of the user downloading or sharing the child pornography files. At that point, the individual police officer can either attempt to download the pornography or compare it to a database of child pornography with similar files names and hash values. Once this occurs, the officer will then send a subpoena or court order the user's internet provider and obtain the home address of the user. A search warrant will be obtained for the home and the user's computers and electronics will be seized. The police will then make a forensic copy of the files on the computer and preserve the files for future use in court.

Child Pornography Penalties

In Delaware if you are arrested for looking at child pornography on your home computer or laptop, you are going to be charged with the crime of "Dealing in Child Pornography," a class B felony, which is more serious than Possession of Child Pornography, a class F felony. You might ask, "how can they do this? Dealing in child pornography involves sending child pornography to others. Dealing in child pornography sounds like you are a dealer or seller of child porn." You are correct. You would think that a "dealing" charge would be for distributers of child porn and "possession" would be for those who watch child pornography in their home. However, this is not the case in Delaware. In Delaware if you are possessing child porn, you will likely be charged with dealing. In the "Dealing in Child Pornography" statute there is language that prohibits possessing child pornography. Therefore, the prosecutors will charge you with Dealing in Child Pornography because it carries a 2 year mandatory minimum jail sentence for each count on the indictment. The "dealing" statute carries a greater penalty so that will typically be the lead charge that you face. Also, each image or video is a separate count on the indictment. That means if there were hundreds of images on your computer you are facing 2 years mandatory jail time on each image or video. In Delaware prosecutors will typically charge you with a maximum of 25 counts. On just about every child pornography case you are facing 50 years in prison. You will likely not do that much time, but the stakes are extremely high in these cases. The first plea offer could be as much as 10 years in prison depending on how many images you possess. A child pornography conviction carries a 25 year sex offender registration.

Jason Antoine has litigated child pornography cases both sides of the aisle as a prosecutor and defense attorney. In Delaware he has worked with the top expert witnesses in the region and successfully had cases dropped down to Possession of Child Pornography so that the client faced NO mandatory jail time. You should contact a lawyer at the earliest possible stage of your case. Jason Antoine offers free consultations on all child pornography cases. Contact our office at 302-482-4802.

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