Should Connecticut Reconsider Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Child Pornography?

child pornography, mandatory minimum sentence, Hartford Criminal Defense AttorneyFor most Connecticut residents, there are few things more revolting than the offense of child pornography. Such disgust is generally a result of a society’s healthy desire to protect children and to punish those who would cause children harm. The issue of child pornography is so sensitive, however, that many—including judges, lawyers, and most especially politicians—find it difficult to discuss in a constructive manner. This, unfortunately, means that those accused and convicted of possessing child pornography are subject to mandatory minimum sentences, and the presiding judges are granted virtually no discretion in getting the offender the help that he—and it is usually men—so desperately needs.

Required Penalties

Possession of child pornography offenses is categorized in the Connecticut Penal Code in three degrees, based on the nature and amount of pornographic material. A third-degree offense involves the possession of up to 20 images, including up to 20 frames of video of a single child. Second-degree offenses include between 20 and 50 images, and more than 20 frames of video. Possessing child pornography in the first degree involves 50 or more images, depictions of actual or threatened infliction of serious injury, or more explicit video depictions. The law provides a mandatory minimum sentence must be imposed upon conviction of:

  • Third-degree possession, a Class D felony: one year in prison.
  • Second-degree possession, a Class C felony: two years in prison.
  • First-degree possession, a Class B felony: five years in prison.

Growing Concerns

According to those who would like to discuss changes, one of the major problems with the mandatory minimum sentencing structure is that it fails to take into account the defendant’s history, mental health, intended use of the images, and all manner of other considerations. Very few other offenses are handled with such a black-and-white approach. In the Internet era, this can be especially problematic since 50 or more images can be downloaded in a matter of minutes by an individual with absolutely no history or proclivity to cause harm to a child.

However, the law would require a judge in such a case to sentence that person to at least five years in prison, where he will simply be locked away. Help is often difficult to obtain in the state’s prison system, advocates of change have observed, and the sentence does little to help the offender deal with his potential underlying problems.

Trust in the Judicial System

The state of Connecticut, in almost all other criminal matters, places a high degree of faith in its judges to decide upon the best approach for a particular situation. Many believe it is time to apply that same trust in cases related to the possession of child pornography. That is not, of course, to suggest that prison sentences should necessarily be reduced across the board, but to make each defendant’s sentence appropriate to the circumstances of his own particular case.

If you or someone one you love has been charged with possession of child pornography, you need the services of a highly experienced Hartford criminal defense attorney. It is important to act quickly by calling the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, at [[phone1]] today to schedule a confidential consultation. At our law firm, we understand the seriousness of such allegations and will remain at your side every step of the way.

 

Sources:

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/branford/entry/child_pornography_the_third_rail/

http://www.jud.ct.gov/ji/criminal/glossary/childpornography.htm

https://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/pub/chap_952.htm#sec_53a-196f

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