Providing Successful Legal Strategy and Representation
The law office of John Wesley Hall has experience representing clients that have been charged with child sex crimes, including accusations of underage sex, rape, being an "Internet predator," or child pornography. We don't judge you. We do our best to get a good result no matter what you are accused of, and the prosecution has to prove their case against you.
We have handled every type of sex offenses ranging from sex with the underage, incest, rape, alleged "internet predators," and child pornography. We are experienced trial attorneys, never afraid to go to trial if required, and we work hard to ensure our clients' cases are resolved as successfully as possible. We have achieved favorable results in many of the cases we have handled. Juries are naturally sympathetic to the prosecution's side of the case. We cross-examine witnesses in order to prove false allegations and question the victim's motivations for bringing this claim.
Child Pornography Charges
While the world of child pornography is often believed to be a completely secretive one, it's not. Internet activities and interactions can be recorded and turned over to law enforcement agencies if someone discovers what's going on. IP addresses can be traced. Computers connected to the Internet on a peer-to-peer "network" can legally be searched by the police without a warrant because the computer was left open to the world. Looking at child pornography, regardless of whether you made it or download it is a federal and state crime. If a government agency such as the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Customs, Secret Service, or the local police, including the Attorney General's Cyber Crimes unit, contact you about your Internet usage or ask you "what's on your computer?" it is imperative that you immediately hire experienced legal representation before responding to their questions. Do not talk to them without talking to a criminal defense lawyer first, experienced in these cases, and do not go in to talk without a lawyer. Once they contact you, you are likely about to be charged, and you won't be able to talk them out of it.
If you are charged with a child pornography offense by the federal government, your whole world will be turned upside down. The federal government moves slowly and deliberately. It can take a year or more from a seizure of a computer until charges are brought. Then, you will think that the presumption of innocence has been reversed because you will be placed on onerous pretrial restrictions of your freedom will be limited under the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-248, 120 Stat. 587. Some charges carry mandatory minimum sentences of 5 years. This is true in child pornography cases even though 98% of possessors of child pornography have never acted inappropriately toward children and are not, and never have been, a threat to any children.
Contact a Little Rock, Arkansas, Attorney Today
If you or a loved one have been recently charged with a child pornography crime and need immediate legal representation, contact our office today for a free consultation. You can reach an experienced lawyer toll free at 866-621-4946 or by contacting us online.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. The police want to talk to me about my computer or what somebody said to them about me. What do I do?
You need to contact an experienced sex offense lawyer before you choose to talk to them. Your lawyer needs all the facts, the good and the bad, so he or she can made a determination of whether it is in your best interest to talk to the police. Sometimes it is, but most of the time it's not. And it has nothing to do whether you are innocent or not. The police will be asking you questions to see if you to admit to any little fact that helps them support their case, even if you deny the ultimate occurrence. They almost certainly think you are guilty. They expect you to deny it, but a little admission to something, anything, may help them prove their case to a jury. If you have an alibi, your lawyer needs to help you solidly put it together before you tell the police about it because they will immediately start to tear it apart.
2. My computer was seized by a search warrant several months ago. Am I in the clear?
No. Sometimes the forensic examinations of computers can take months. We once saw the federal government take nearly to two years to prepare its case. If your computer was seized, you should start saving money to hire a lawyer because your case likely isn't going away just because you've heard nothing for many months. Also, we can try to get the affidavit for the search warrant to learn about the case.
3. I got a letter from the U.S. Attorney offering to talk to me about my case. What is going on?
After the investigation is complete, the file is turned over to the U.S. Attorney's Office. They might send you what is called a "target letter" saying that you are invited in to talk about it before you get indicted by a federal grand jury. That's only if you are intending to plead guilty and cut your losses. If you insist on your innocence, or at least slowing it down, you should not talk to them, at least not without consulting a lawyer about it first. And, they don't want you coming in without a lawyer. The letter encourages you to get a lawyer. The next step is an indictment by a grand jury. That is a pro forma exercise because the grand jury always does what the prosecutor wants. Pure possession cases are charged under 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4). If there is distribution through a file sharing program or whatever, then a distribution count is brought under 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2), and that has a five year mandatory minimum.
4. I got a call from a federal agent, and they have a summons for me. What does this mean?
Once you are indicted, if you are still around and haven't been arrested, you will get a summons telling you what day your plea and arraignment is in federal court. It's also possible your indictment was made public and you read about it before you officially know it. You might get a telephone call from the federal agent who seized your computer. Once you know there is a summons, you should immediately contact a lawyer and retain one to start to plan your defense, something that may take a while, depending on the complexity of the forensic reports. In addition, some clients have already been stigmatized in their communities by publicity from the execution of the search warrant, and they do not want federal agents coming by their house again and they request their lawyer to get the summons for them. We will do that for you if you retain us.
5. What about pretrial release under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act?
The Adam Walsh Act treats persons accused of child pornography offenses almost like they have been convicted without a trial. Your conditions of release will be onerous, including a curfew and electronic monitoring by an ankle bracelet that requires you to be home when not working. You won't be able to have unsupervised visits with children, even your grandchildren. You get reasonable times out of the house for work, school, church, doctor visits, and going to the grocery store. If you need access to a computer for work, the computer will be subject to monitoring to make sure that inappropriate websites are not visited. All this is overseen by the Pretrial Services Section of the U.S. Probation Office. The State of Arkansas wil also adopt it.
6. If I'm convicted, what kind of sentence can I expect? I'm not a pervert or a pedophile; I just made a bad mistake. What about probation?
To be brutally frank: Probation is almost impossible, even without any criminal history or suspected sexual abuse in your past. Sentencing in federal court is governed by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, specifically § 2G2.2, and any mandatory minimums that the offense may carry (like a distribution count). The guidelines are advisory but not mandatory. Guideline levels increase for use of a computer, young age of the children, distribution for value, coercion of the children, number of images, and other allegations of child sexual abuse. We have successfully gotten downward departures for clients we could show were worthy.
7. I'm not a sex offender. What about sex offender registration if convicted?
Regretfully, the law requires persons convicted of child pornography offenses must register as sex offenders, even though they have never molested a child. In Arkansas, sex offender registration lasts for at least 15 years when you can petition to get off the registry. Child pornography is a lower level status, but it is still a registration offense. (Contact offenses are high level registrations.) Persons convicted in federal court are required to register according to the law of their state of residence.
8. How do I deal with relatives, friends, neighbors, employers after I get arrested?
I am told by Arkansas Time After Time, a sex offender support group I work with, that the majority of people will understand when you just tell them the truth. You will find from this experience who your real friends are.
9. I feel so alone.
You are not alone. The support group Arkansas Time After Time has 250 members of sex offenders and their families. They know what you are going through and they will not judge you over what you are accused of. They consider themselves like family who supports each other in a time of need. Call or write them. There is no avoiding saying this: You are about go through a horrible legal experience, but you will survive. There is life after this.