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Authorities ramp up child pornography prosecutions

There are few matters that are taken more seriously than allegations of harm done to children. Accordingly, when St. Louis residents are accused of criminal offenses involving children, they are very serious charges that must be combatted vigorously.

One of the most serious offenses that can be charged involves child pornography or sexual exploitation of children. Law enforcement has ramped up its resources over the years to investigate and prosecute suspected cases involving internet crimes against children.

For instance, an initiative called Project Safe Childhood investigates and prosecutes those accused of technology-related offenses against children like child pornography offenses. Federal and state agencies work together under the initiative, which has led to an increase in prosecutions. Indeed, almost 3,000 defendants were charged in 2011 for offenses involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

While there are many different offenses that can be charged against individuals when it comes to online crimes against children, and serious penalties for each charge, there are also effective defenses that can be raised to the charges. For example, an effective child pornography defense may be based on suppressing evidence that could otherwise be used against the person in the case. This means the evidence cannot be used by the prosecution against the defendant if it was obtained unlawfully by law enforcement, as in cases where law enforcement was required to obtain a warrant and they failed to do so.

In other cases, individuals might challenge whether the child pornography belonged to them or whether there was the necessary intent to commit the crime. These defenses attack the elements the prosecution must prove in order to convict the person of the crime charged.

Source: United States Department of Justice, "Project Safe Childhood Fact Sheet," accessed on Sept. 26, 2014

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