Lawyers: Child Pornography Charges Difficult to Defend

Lawyers: Child Pornography Charges Difficult to Defend

Charges of child pornography pose unique challenges for criminal defense, say attorneys who claim that seeking out legal technicalities is often the only defense against overwhelming evidence.  

According to criminal defense attorney Salvatore Sciandra, most defendants in child molestation cases avoid jury trials. Perhaps the primary reason for this, said defense attorney Michael Cernyar, is the difficulty of getting a fair trial.

“Sex and children, whether it’s molestation or child pornography, there is really no presumption of innocence for that jury. Now they might tell you that they are going to give it to you, but in their minds it’s a hideous crime, and to be charged with it is not working in your favor from day one,” said Cernyar.

Legal Issues

It seems that for both Sciandra and Cernyar, legal issues surrounding the case are paramount.

“There’s all kinds of issues involved and you generally defend them on legal issues rather than factual issues,” Sciandra said.

Specifically at issue, he said, is “whether the law enforcement agency legally seized the computers, whether it was a good search warrant, whether there are the types of pictures that will increase the sentencing, whether they qualify.”

Cernyar appears to agree with this approach.

“Attack the search warrant if you can and attack anything you can in pretrial so it doesn’t go to trial,” he said.

Other possible defenses include proving that someone other than the defendant used the computer to download the illegal images and entrapment. Sciandra, however, said that entrapment is difficult to prove because you have to show there was no predisposition.


Sentences for child pornography charges usually depend on a number of circumstances such as the number of images, their content, and distribution.

“If you send one picture, you e-mail one picture, that’s distribution. It doesn’t have to be distribution for profit,” Sciandra said.

Distribution carries a five-year mandatory minimum penalty.

(Article source: Visalia Times-Delta)

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