Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and the Law

Exploitation. An ugly word, particularly when the word “Sexual” precedes it. Sexual Exploitation of a Minor is defined in Article 26 of Chapter 14 of the North Carolina General Statutes, and includes three degrees – or three levels – of punishment.

Let’s be clear. The Sexual Exploitation of a Child is never acceptable. The problem, however, is that someone can be charged with this crime in North Carolina – or its equivalent in the federal system – for having what amounts to child pornography on a computer system that the person may have never knew was there.

Earlier this week I discussed this issue with a fellow criminal lawyer, and we both commented on how easy it is for WiFi or computer networks to be hacked. A person can go onto the Internet and find Youtube videos that explain exactly how to hack a WiFi network. With that knowledge, they can piggyback on a neighbor’s WiFI network to download pornography and even child pornography.

Because authorities will see that the child pornography is traveling over the innocent neighbor’s network, authorities will assume that the neighbor is the true culprit, when the neighbor probably has no idea his WiFi router is being used for these purposes.

It is important for you to properly secure your WiFi networks. A first step would be to use WPA2 encryption. Do not use WEP encryption, which is basically worthless. A second step is to use long and complicated passwords for your router and computer systems. A third step is to avoid allowing anyone you do not personally know use your computers.

If you are ever approached by authorities who ask for permission to examine your computers, politely decline. If they have a warrant, you will be required to turn over your computers, but you will have a significant advantage especially if the warrant is defective.

Finally, never talk to authorities about your computer usage. If you’re approached, you should always politely, but firmly, request the presence of a lawyer, or insist on not speaking unless you have a lawyer present. This is crucial to your defense, and can mean the difference between freedom and many years in prison.

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Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.