A sex crimes lawyer in Arizona defending clients charged with receipt or possession of child pornography faces unique challenges. Aside from the mental health issues their clients may be facing, as well as the visceral reaction judges and juries have to these types of cases, many pornography charges are fraught with damaging admissions, forensic reports from government computer experts, as well as garner draconian penalties. However, a sex crimes lawyer can gain leverage by focusing on the frequently overlooked interstate commerce element of the receipt and possession statutes.
It is important to understand that the interstate commerce defense a sex crimes lawyer can make has nothing to do with the power of Congress under the Constitution interstate commerce clause to criminalize receipt or possession of pornography, as that authority cannot be easily disputed. Rather, the defense can make an argument based on the interstate jurisdictional elements in the statutes themselves.
For example, the prosecution must prove that the pornography crossed state lines. In the case of Internet pornography, proving that is open to debate. It is in this blurred area of distinction that a sex crimes lawyer can use to his advantage.
Congress’s narrow jurisdictional element
It is important to recognize that by requiring that elicit images were moved or transported across state lines, Congress enacted a relatively narrow jurisdictional element that is of interest to the sex crimes lawyer. If Congress was chiefly interested in extending federal authority to prosecute as far as possible, it would have adopted wording that merely required proof that the defendant used “an instrument of interstate commerce” while committing a receipt or possession offense. If this had been the wording, merely downloading the images on the Internet would have been enough to prove the interstate element.
Congress probably realized that most states already had child pornography statutes in place, and only sought to create legislation that covered pornography cases across a large region that involved a multitude of states and jurisdictions where interstate activity is clearly involved.
Nevertheless, regardless of Congress’s intentions, the court is required to interpret and construe judicial elements in a narrow light. When it comes to proving interstate activity, prosecutors often offer no proof that the visual depictions were transmitted onto the defendant’s computer from a different state or other location in the country.
For this very reason, a sex crimes lawyer should focus on the sufficiency of proof related to the interstate elements. Most interstate evidence, or lack of, that is offered by the government is typical. In more cases than not, the shaky evidence won’t stand up under scrutiny in court.
The challenges of a sex crime lawyer in Arizona are great. Often, there is little to work with as the evidence presented can be quite conclusive. In addition to the stigmatized nature of sex crimes, the client faces increased prejudice from the jury as well as the bench. It is only in the interstate commerce clause that an attorney gets much leverage to give his client any favor. By hiring a lawyer specialized in sex crimes and the unique issues involved, a client can get a better judgment from the court that results in a more desired outcome.
About the Author
David Michael Cantor is an AV rated (the highest possible rating) lawyer and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. For more information about an Arizona sex crimes lawyer, visit our site.