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A relative of mine had his house raided by homeland security…

A relative of mine had...
A relative of mine had his house raided by homeland security (secret service) after (i believe) he clicked a link/watched videos/looked at images of child pornography. Homeland security took all the electronic devices in the home. The offense allegedly occurred in May 2008. The raid took place in July 2008. The home and the investigation is out of the state of Michigan. 2 years later, today actually...I had the secret service in my city, 3000 or so miles away come to my door and ask me to sign an statement saying that I was not living in the house at the time of the raid. Im assuming this is a precursor to an arrest that is about to occur. My relative has NO criminal history and I am fairly confident that he had no interactions with any of the children in the photographs, or spoke to online (or by any means) to these children. I would also say with certainty that he was not distributing the material and he was likely clicking the picture(s)/video(s) out of curiosity. I am aware that solely viewing child pornography is still a serious offense, however I am curious what type of punishment he would receive based on what I have told you above and if you agree with me that it seems that he will soon be arrested. Thanks
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Answered in 9 minutes by:
6/29/2010
lwpat
lwpat, Criminal Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 25,387
Experience: Practicing criminal defense attorney
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I am assuming that he does not have a prior record. It depends a lot on how many videos he downloaded and whether he shared them with anyone. He is looking at a minimum of five years incarceration.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
I appreciate the answer on how many years he might get but I also asked if you think it is likely that he will be arrested 'soon'. In other words, the raid took place two years, he hasn't heard a peep since, nor has he been interviewed and , suddenly, I am being asked to give a statement to clarify that it is not possible that I could have accessed the computer. In your opinion, does this timeline mean that they are getting very close to arresting him? and if so, when would you guess that would be? It would appear to me (a laymen) that they are sealing off any defense he may have to arrest in the next couple weeks but I am not an Attorney and that is why i am asking....
That is a crystal ball question and one that only the Federal prosecutor can answer. I have no idea what actual evidence they have or where they are in the investigation.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Relist: Answer quality.
A more detailed answer, that possibly looks at previous actual legal cases that are related to my question. I feel my answer was written by a professional google searcher.
Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 31,871
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Jacustomer,

The Federal Statute of Limitations on this type of offense would be 5 years. (Title 18 - Part II,Chapter 213, §32). That gives them three more years to prepare their case if they need it. The Federal Government doesn't file a case until they have all of their ducks lined up in a row and the ammunition ready to fire at them. The previous expert is correct. Nobody other than the prosecutor can ascertain how close they are to making an arrest.

The only thing I can say with some certainty is that they are looking for other suspects who may have had some complicity in this offense. They got to you, for example, and don't assume that you weren't/arent a potential suspect as you did turn up on their radar screen as a result of their investigations to date.

I'm not trying to scare you, but the Feds take their time and cast a very wide net. And they don't share the details of their notoriously thorough investigations. Your relative may be only one of several people involved in what they're looking into.

Edited by FranL on 6/29/2010 at 2:51 AM EST
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Do you have the resources to check to see if there was a similar case to this? No criminal history and simply viewing child pornography (nothing else) as the main points.
It's not about having the resources. It's in part about whether your relative will get charged at all and for precisely what.

Federal plea bargaining is strictly defined by the parameters of the Federal Sentencing guidelines. This is a very elaborate table which all but requires a slide rule to figure out.

However, here's the statute that you indicate he's likely to have violated. (If you're correct that he did no more than possess this stuff, see Section 4(b) and then (b)(1) for the sentence -- a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 20 years). That's what the crime is worth on paper.

From there, each Federal offense has a designated level, for sentencing purposes. This crime begins at level 21, which is worth 41-51 months of prison for someone with no prior arrests before adjustments as defined by the guidelines. These adjustments can raise or lower the level of the offense (and thus the time in jail), and some of these are facts that I don't have.

For example, the number of pictures/videos or whatever, will raise the level of the offense. If any of the children depicted are under 12, that will raise the offense level. 'The fact that the porn was on a computer raises the level to a 24 which is worth 51-63 months. If there were any S&M photos in the collection, that would raise the level yet again. If he intended to distribute any of the porn, that too ups the ante. And there are still other considerations.

In his favor would be that it's a first arrest. That would neither raise or lower the level of the crime. And potentially in his favor would be if he accepted responsibility for his offense (as in pled guilty). That would lower the level to a 22 for plea bargaining purposes.

So really, it's not case law that will do him any good at this juncture. The Guidelines dictate what the case is worth. Here's the chart.

Best I can do, without knowing the precise charges, seeing all of the discovery talking to your relative, and conferring with prosecutor. Nothing about a Federal prosecution is as simple as you would like to have it be. Sorry.

Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
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