Interviewer: How are people caught when they have imagery and when they download imagery?
Tom Chaves: The way that people are caught is typically where someone else has reason to believe that the person may be either looking at child pornography or have child pornography on their computer.
A New Jersey State Legislator Was Prosecuted For Having Child Pornography on His Computer
They did some follow up investigation and they were able to obtain a search warrant and it turned out that state legislator had a large amount of child pornography on his office computer. He was arrested and prosecuted and ultimately sentenced a prison. So, that’s in general how it’s found. Where somebody makes a report of that, somebody else having it and that can be a starting point to develop evidence to see if in fact, the claim is true.
People Prosecuted for Possession of Child Pornography Generally Have Many Images in their Possession
Interviewer: What’s the standard to realize if someone has a single image or they have dozens or hundreds or thousands?
Tom Chaves: In my experience, it involves people who have many images. The cases that I’ve been involved with, all my clients have had many, many images; I’ve never had one client prosecuted for having one or two. All the people that I’ve been involved with had many, many hundreds of images.
The Measure of Guilt in a Child Pornography Case is currently a Grey Area of Legislation
Interviewer: What about they’re actually looking at them versus storing them, is just looking at them make you guilty of that?
Tom Chaves: That is an interesting question. It’s sort of a grey area at this time. I mean the problem that it goes to intent once again because the mechanism for possession of child pornography at this time and probably for a number of years at least has been through the internet. It’s very easy to access child pornography and it’s also easy to access child pornography which is obviously illegal without even knowing it. For example, a website might say that all the people on the website are over 18 years of age even though they’re not, or a website may be somewhat innocent in terms of what the website is called and you don’t think going to the website that it would contain child pornography but in fact it does.
The Law Regarding Child Pornography Basically Targets People Addicted to Child Pornography
For example, if one were to do a search for, let’s say, for example family nudism which sounds innocent enough but if you go to the actual website that’s associated with a particular search engine result from that as your search term, it may have the word nudist in it in some form or other but when you go to the actual website, it will contain child pornography. Now, you weren’t even looking for that but this might be something that was turned up. That obviously is not a case that anyone wouldn’t want to prosecute. What the police and prosecutors are interested in are people who’re addicted to the child pornography and who spend a substantial amount of time finding it and also collecting it and storing it on their computers. So, someone who inadvertently looks at something although they technically may be guilty in essence, that’s not what the law was intended for.