Written by attorney Jef D Henninger

Defending against a Child Pornography Possession Case in New Jersey

In New Jersey, possession of child pornography is a fourth degree felony. Despite the fact that these cases are very difficult to prosecute, the State enjoys a very high conviction rate. The reason for that is because most people accused and/or arrested for possession of child pornography in New Jersey confess or at least put their foot in their mouth by speaking to the police without the advice of a lawyer. Even worse is that many of these people then hire a lawyer that knows little to nothing about child pornography although they may be good criminal defense lawyers in other cases. As a result, too many people plea out.

Clearly, the best way to defend against an accusation or a case is to say nothing and hire a lawyer ASAP. Too many people think that the must speak to the police. We all have the right to remain silent. Although these rights appear in countless TV shows and movies, most people don't understand or don't have the guts to invoke them. Likewise, most people know that they have the right to a lawyer but they think that they will look guilty if they do so. Of course, if you are having any interaction with the police about child pornography issues, it is almost certain that they already think you are guilty any way.

Assuming you hired a lawyer regardless of whether or not you made a statement, you need to relax and not panic. What's done is done and anxiety will solve nothing. Trust that you hired the right lawyer and that he/she has a plan to win the case. The first step in the case will be for your lawyer to reach out to the prosecutor on the file to see if the case can be resolved. Some discovery will be exchanged (discovery = the evidence against you) and your lawyer will size up the State's case to see how it can be resolved before indictment. If it cannot be resolved before indictment, chances are it will go to trial because there is no disorderly person's offense to downgrade the case to so that the felony charge can be avoided (in New Jersey, misdemeanors are referred to as disorderly person's offenses).

If the case proceeds to indictment, there are a number of motions your lawyer could file. Motions are a legal request for the court to do something such as dismiss the indictment, suppress evidence, exclude evidence, etc. Some of these motions may result in the case being dismissed before trial. Others can result in an easier trial for you.

If the case goes to trial, your lawyer needs to have a clear plan of attack. Too many lawyers that don't understand these cases don't. These cases can be won but you need the right lawyer. Make sure you fully understand the exact plan of attack your lawyer has. While all of this will not guarantee success, chances are that you will increase your odds of success tremendously.

Keep two points in mind. First, ask your lawyer if he/she has ever taken one of these cases to trial. Do you really want to be a guinea pig? Second, understand the difference between the plea agreement offered by the State and your exposure at trial. Too many plea out when they have nothing to lose by going to trial. If you have nothing to lose by going to trial, why not roll the dice?

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