Internet crimes most commonly fall into one of two categories, both of which involving illicit sexual conduct. The first category of cases is charges relate to the possession, manufacture and distribution of child pornography. These are very serious offenses that are prosecuted both at the State and the Federal level. I have listed Child Pornography as a separate practice area and discussed these cases in detail in that section.
The second, and often related, category of internet offenses, are cases involving the sexual solicitation of a minor. Like Child Pornography cases, these cases have also exploded in number since the advent of the internet which provides a vast landscape of opportunities for these types of offenses that never existed prior to the internet’s arrival on the scene. The majority of sexual solicitation cases that we are seeing are cases in which the police set up a sting operation. Typically, a sex offense detective will create a fictitious on line profile of an underage child. The detective will then go into dating chat sites posing as this underage child and make contact with unsuspecting individuals. In my view this tactic is highly questionable and can amount to entrapment under certain limited circumstances, particularly when these detectives troll adult chat web sites where many people “roll play” and very few people actually identify themselves in any meaningful way.
Indeed, I have represented many people over the years who have made very convincing cases that they honestly believed that the person they were “chatting” with was an adult who was roll playing as a minor and that they would never have gone through with any sexual activity with a child. Unfortunately, the State Prosecutors and U.S. Attorneys are extremely reluctant to believe individuals who assert this defense. They prosecute these cases extremely aggressively and often work in tandem against defendant. Very often they will use tactics, such as the threat of a federal indictment, to prevent individuals from asserting any defense at all in State Court. They give the defendant the choice of pleading guilty in State Court or going to trial in Federal Court where jail terms can be many times what they would be in State Court. These tactics can seem unfair to many defendants but the simple fact is that there is concurrent jurisdiction over these matters and they can legitimate\ly be prosecuted in either State of Federal Court.
This is why it is imperative to have a criminal defense team that is experienced in BOTH Federal and State prosecutions of these matters. As noted elsewhere herein, our criminal team handling internet crimes is headed up by partner Andrew White who is the former Sexual Offense Division Chief at the U. S. Attorney’s Office. As a Federal Prosecutor for more than a decade, Mr. White successfully prosecuted, and in recent years defended, hundreds of these types of Federal Cases. On the State side, Partners Brian Thompson and Steve Silverman, along with senior associate Crestin Smith round out the team. Messrs Thompson, Silverman and Smith have vast experience in defending these matters in State Court. Collectively they have defended hundreds of these matters in Circuit Courts throughout the State of Maryland. There is simply no doubt that our team is second to none in providing an aggressive and comprehensive defense on both the State and Federal level to these very serious charges.