Under Georgia law, the charge sexual exploitation of a child (O.C.G.A. § 16-12-100) involves allegations that a person has coerced or used a minor under the age of 18 to participate in conduct of a sexual nature for the purpose of creating a visual representation of that conduct, such as photographs, videos, movies, and the like. It also makes it illegal for any person to distribute, sell or possess these types of materials.
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We have successfully represented clients in serious criminal cases across the United States. Our firm has offices in Atlanta GA and Brunswick GA, and we frequently travel to other courts across the state to represent people in serious criminal cases.
Sexual exploitation of a child charges generally arise in four types of situations:
What is “sexually explicit conduct?” The statute covers a wide variety of sexual conduct in addition to what most people probably think of when they hear those words such as intercourse and oral sex. Sexually explicit conduct under O.C.G.A. § 16-12-100(a)(4) also includes masturbation, exposing a minor’s genitals, and being physically restrained while naked, among others.
It is important to note that in this context, a minor means someone 17 years of age or younger. This can be confusing because under Georgia law, the age of consent—the age someone can legally have sex—is 16 years old. So is it illegal if two 16 year old’s have sex and record a video on one of their iPhones of the encounter? Technically, yes, it is illegal and the person whose phone the video was recorded on could be prosecuted. The only “exception” to this rule is if the visual medium created or possessed depicts only the minor him or herself engaged in sexual conduct.
In today’s technology driven world, most sexual exploitation charges will involve the use of a computer or smartphone and the internet. The way the government uses the internet to investigate people they think may have committed sexual exploitation of a child can be rather complicated to explain unless you are tech-savvy. In its simplest terms, the government has tools they can use to trace a person’s IP address when they use the internet to look at, download, upload, or chat about materials that may involve sexual exploitation of children. Once police have the IP address, they can figure out what internet service provider (such as Comcast, AT&T, Charter, etc.) is associated with that IP address. Police then subpoena the internet service provider to see which customer is assigned that IP address. After that, police generally get a search warrant to search and seize electronic devices at the customer’s address. Police have special tools to analyze the seized devices and perform what is called a forensic analysis or forensic examination. It allows them to see virtually everything ever done on that computer. This includes search history, download history, websites visited, and so much more. Even things that the user may have thought they deleted can usually still be found.
Punishment for violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-12-100 differs based on the nature of the offense and a variety of other factors. In general, a person convicted of sexual exploitation of children is guilty of a felony and can be imprisoned for 5 to 20 years, fined up to $100,000 or both, unless the person convicted is a member of the victim’s immediate family, in which case there is no fine. The person convicted will also be required to register as a sex offender.
There are two situations where a person can be charged with and punished for a misdemeanor:
There are several defenses to sexual exploitation of children charges. The first three are provided for in the statute (O.C.G.A. § 16-12-100(d)) while the others are based on the evidence. These include:
When defending someone accused of sexual exploitation in Georgia, our firm usually retains computer forensic experts, investigators and sometime medical experts to review the evidence and assist our clients in preparing a solid defense.
Our defense attorneys have helped clients successfully resolve serious sexual exploitation cases. We have also helped some of our clients avoid charges completely when we were able to convince prosecutors that evidence was insufficient to bring criminal charges.
If you or someone you know has been charged with sexual exploitation in Georgia, contact us to see if we may be able to help. The earlier we can start preparing a defense to these serious charges, the more likely it is we can help someone avoid a wrongful conviction.
BEST IN TOWN! Look no further then Page Pate and Jess Johnson if you want the best trial lawyers to represent you! Their dedication and complete commitment to their client is beyond reproach. They are complete masters of their knowledge of the law and understanding the court system while providing the top investigative team and forensic technology with a top notch administrative staff. They will walk you through each legal process, demonstrating professionalism while being aggressive advocates for you. In the courtroom there’s no doubt that they are accomplished masterful attorneys who represented my son being accused of a criminal crime he did not commit. This was a difficult case but due to the superb work of Page and Jess the charges were dropped. We will forever be grateful to them for all their hard work, compassion and dedication. If you need the best, then hire the best!