Child Porn Viewed by Accident – Can I Still Be Charged?



There are numerous situations where a file or idea searched or downloaded will open an image or video of child pornography that is not an intentional action by the user of the computer. When these incidents occur, it is best to contact a lawyer because of the federal charges that are possible when even accidentally opening child pornography files.

The Crime of Downloading Child Pornography

When a person uses the internet, he or she may accidentally run into a file or folder that has child pornography in it or hidden within the code. Some users are aware of this and download the files intentionally with the software or know how to extract the illegal images. Others are fully and completely unaware that anything is wrong with the file or that anything illegal contained in the download exists. In these instances, the crime of downloading may provide a valid defense. However, the law enforcement agencies may still arrest the person for the actual download no matter if it was intentional or not.
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Electronic Devices and the Download

No matter what device a person has, it is possible to receive or download images of child pornography because of embedded media or virus or trojan attacks with these images inside. The accidental download occurs when the person attempting to receive or retrieve a valid file receives child pornography as well or in place of the original. These images may remain on the computer as proof, or the individual may delete them immediately either to remove the offensive material or without any knowledge of what was inside the file or folder. In some of these instances, the event of an arrest is a confusing and anxious time.



Many owners of computing devices are able to dodge charges of child pornography when the agency does not monitor the download. However, there are just as many instances where the individual that accidentally downloads and views the file will face criminal federal charges for possession or distribution of child pornography. It is crucial to hire a lawyer to defend against these charges. The fewer files containing explicit graphic images of minors on the computing device, the better the individual may have of supporting accidental download and viewing of the media. It is critical to hire a criminal defense lawyer to support the case of accidental viewing when these incidents occur.

Implementing Defensive Strategies

The individual may still face federal criminal charges of child pornography, but he or she should hire a criminal defense lawyer to both implement and support a case of accidental downloads and viewing. Usually, the accused will only have the images from the one download that will cause the court case. To implement a successful defense, he or she may need to, in detail, explain what happened to lead to the download or images showing on his or he computer. Generally, the legal team will need an expert witness to analyze the computer and explain any virus, trojan or other infection that may pop up child pornography images.

The Incident of Accidental Viewing

Many adults that want to view certain adult material will encounter child pornography on websites that advertise normal or fetish adult material within the pages of the site. Accidental incidents may occur when attempting to view such graphic images or video. The charges often occur when law enforcement investigate IP addresses, check records on websites or confiscate the hardware the individual uses to visit adult sites. The officers will initiate a case against the individual when police believe the person committed the acts intentionally. When charged, the person should hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately.

The Delicate Case and the Lawyer

It is crucial to explain the matter to a lawyer to present the case delicately and appropriately to the courtroom. The judge or jury panel may not look favorably on the defendant because of the subject matter. However, with a convincing argument and evidence to support the defense, it is possible to inform all members of the court. Computer hardware and browser history may also support the case of accidental or unintentional viewing of child pornography.

Legal support may need to quickly build a case to support the corroborating evidence with the computer, internet history and lack of any other evidence than the accidental viewing of the child pornography. The investigation into the matter may not hold sufficient evidence that the perpetrator committed the crimes with intent or was even aware of what he or she saw.

Provided by HG.org


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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