Last month, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed a conviction for child pornography after holding that prosecutors did not present sufficient evidence at trial that Steven Lindley possessed child pornography. At the heart of the case was a computer tablet seized by law enforcement that contained images of child pornography.
After law enforcement searched Lindley’s residence, Lindley’s mother turned over a tablet to investigators. There were fourteen images of minors engaged in sexual activity on the tablet. There were also images of Lindley. Based on those images, and nothing else, prosecutors charged Lindley with possessing the tablet containing child pornography.
At trial, the State tried to tie Lindley to the tablet and the jury convicted Lindley. But the Court of Appeals reversed the conviction because the State did not present any evidence that Lindley actually owned or possessed the tablet, or that he was the one who put the images on the tablet.
The Court of Appeals held that the circumstantial evidence tying the tablet to Lindley was not sufficient for a conviction—most of the images weren’t dated and it wasn’t enough that there were pictures of Lindley on the tablet. In fact, the only dated pictures of Lindley and the child pornography were dated a year apart. Since it would be reasonable to find that someone else in the home may have owned the tablet or downloaded the images onto it, the State did not present enough evidence to find Lindley guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Justice was served in this case. People accused of sex offenses, including possessing child pornography, are often presumed guilty by jurors, judges, law enforcement, and prosecutors. That’s why the right to a fair trial and due process are especially important in these cases. Our firm has extensive experience in child pornography cases in both state and federal court, and our results speak for themselves.
If you or someone you know has been charged with possession, receipt, transmission or manufacturing child pornography, give us a call and we will let you know if we can help.
Page Pate is an accomplished trial lawyer with over 25 years of experience in criminal defense, civil litigation, and whistleblower representation. Page is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Top 100 Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers, and named to the list of Super Lawyers for the past 15 consecutive years. Page is a frequent expert legal analyst for local and national media and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia Law School. Read Page’s reviews on AVVO. Follow Page on Twitter @pagepate and on Linkedin.