There a number of state and federal laws which address the possession,
production, distribution, and even the receipt of child pornography. While
these laws are certainly well-intentioned and important, the complexity
of an internet-based crime has led to many charges being filed against
innocent people. In this blog, our Dallas sex crimes defense attorney
takes a look at several ways innocent people have been charged with
child pornography offenses.
Although they are not as widely reported as in the early 2000’s,
computer viruses are still a very real thing. Whether they are made with
malicious intent, or as a simple prank, viruses and malware have led to
at least several instances in which innocent people were wrongfully charged.
For example, take the case of former government employee Michael Fiola.
After a coworker noticed that Fiola was using roughly four times the amount
of data as other employees, his boss checked his state-issued computer
and found child pornography. After spending a quarter of a million dollars
fighting the case, the District Attorney finally admitted that the laptop
appeared to have been “compromised by a virus” – the
charges were dropped.
Hackers & Trojan Horses
Around 2003, internet hackers developed a new money-making scheme –
taking over innocent people’s computers, downloading or accessing
child pornography, and then extorting the computer’s owner. With
this in mind, it is certainly possible for hackers to “set up”
a business rival or other perceived enemy.
In 2002, the U.K. government launched “Operation Ore,” an investigation
into a website called Landslide.com, as the site facilitated the online
purchase of child pornography.
Disturbingly, dozens of individuals may have been wrongfully prosecuted
– many of the defendants appear to have been identified solely based
on their credit card information. At least one defendant was able to prove
that his identity was stolen, as he had simultaneously used his credit
card in England while someone else used it to purchase child pornography
There have been several cases in which a person was technically in violation
of the law, but perhaps did not violate the intended purpose of the law.
For example, the age of consent in Texas is 17, while Oklahoma’s
age of consent is 16. A sexual relationship between a 16 year old woman
and a 17 year old man is legal in both states; if either party sends nude
images to the other across state lines, however, the recipient could spend
decades in federal prison.
Like all sex offenses, child pornography charges are extremely serious
and carry severe penalties. If you are facing charges, or even an investigation,
call our Dallas criminal defense attorney immediately for the tough, trial-tested defense you need.