Judge Jerome Benson cut Gilbert Lam’s bail back from $250,000 to $80,000 due to lack of evidence that the 37-year-old had distributed the images of child pornography found in his home (CA PC311). It is not unusual for law enforcement officials in California to charge an individual with distribution of child pornography when such pornographic images are found on a personal computer.
This was exactly the case for Lam, whose home was searched this past August by San Francisco police. The investigation was stymied for a number of months, however, because Lam had managed to deftly encrypt the files on his computer so as to make them nearly impossible to access. When law enforcement officials finally followed up, prosecutor Alexis Fasteau tried to argue that the 83 suspicious video files found on Lam’s computer had most certainly been shared with others via a file-sharing program. However, to Fastau’s dismay, there was absolutely no evidence to support the claim that Lam distributed the pornographic videos over the Internet; there was only proof that he shared the files between his own computers.
Although Lam has admitted to viewing certain videos containing child pornography, there has never been any evidence supporting the charges against him regarding their distribution. CA Penal Code, §311.11 usually makes the simple possession of child pornography a felony charge carrying a maximum penalty of $50,000 in fines and/or up to 1 year in county jail. However, the penalties for the distribution of child pornography can either be a misdemeanor or a felony (a ‘wobbler’) according to California law. If considered a felony charge, a person faces state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000.
Summit Defense child pornography attorneys routinely defend both possession and distribution of child pornography cases. Although, we’ve found it to be usual for prosecutors to charge persons with both possession and distribution of child pornography, it is also very likely that some of these charges can be removed due to lack of proper evidence. If you are facing a similar criminal charge, contact the attorneys at Summit Defense for a free initial consulation.