Representative Cases: Obscenity, Computers, and the Internet

Airman suspected of possession of child pornography

Legal and command repeatedly stated the belief that this was the largest child pornography case they had ever encountered, and alleged that our client possessed thousands of contraband computer images and videos. Gagne, Scherer & Associates used their experience and expert computer forensic assistance to get Airman acquitted of possession of all but a handful of images, which were downloaded accidentally during a large file transfer. Airman was sentenced to only 2 months in confinement based on a technical violation of the law.

Officer gets only two months for child pornography

An officer faced allegations that he possessed a large volume of child pornography on multiple drives and devices. Sophisticated analysis by GSA and its forensic expert gutted the government’s case, leaving only a small number of images in play. The government had refused to discuss a reasonable outcome, but on the eve of trial GSA secured a two-month deal for the officer, which ultimately spared him from the two-year sentence that would have been imposed by the court.

Airman charged with possession of child pornography and taking indecent pictures of a girl gets only 6 months of confinement

Our client was charged with possession of child pornography and taking indecent pictures of a prepubescent girl without her knowledge. GS&A challenged the quality of the government’s computer analysis and the scope of the evidence presented at trial. Throughout the trial, GS&A highlighted the heavy-handed tactics used by the government. We challenged the legality of our client’s statement to law enforcement and the tactics the investigators used to get the statement. Before trial, the government refused to consider any deal of less than two years in jail. At sentencing, the government asked for a sentence of 18 months but GS&A convinced the judge to give our client only 6 months.

Airman charged with child pornography receives only one year of confinement

A young airman was charged with possession of child pornography. In discussions before an Article 32 hearing, the government insisted that it wouldn’t even consider a deal unless the airman agreed to serve at least five years in jail. GS&A rejected that offer and vigorously challenged the evidence during the hearing. Through investigation and skillful cross-examination of the lead investigator, GS&A exposed significant weaknesses in the government’s case. After the hearing, the prosecution agreed to cap our client’s jail time at only one year.

Enlisted coast guard member receives only four months of confinement at a special court-martial for possession of child pornography

The government sought to bring a young coast guard member to a general court-martial for possession of child pornography. Through months of negotiations, GS&A persuaded the government to bring our client to a special court-martial instead, thus avoiding a felony-level conviction and limiting his potential jail sentence to a maximum of one year. GS&A’s presentation of our client’s background, family support, and plan for the future convinced the military judge to impose only four months of confinement.

Airman receives only nine months of confinement for possession of child pornography, though the government sought two years and refused to enter a fair deal

Our client sought to accept responsibility for possessing child pornography. The government refused to accept a reasonable resolution and insisted on a jail term of two years. GS&A chose not to do a deal. Instead, our client pled guilty without a deal. We successfully challenged the scope of the government’s evidence. We demonstrated that our client had a strong support network and family and friends, and that he has a good plan for rehabilitation and avoiding further trouble. The government asked for two years of confinement but the judge sentenced our client to only nine months.

Sailor charged with possession of child pornography

Initially, the government offered an 18-month cap on his sentence in exchange for a plea of guilty and a waiver of numerous pretrial rights, including his right to have an expert appointed to review the government’s forensic computer analysis. We turned down the offer and aggressively challenged the government’s evidence at the Article 32 hearing. We attacked the number of images he allegedly possessed, the ages of the people depicted in the images, and the circumstances of his interrogation. Eventually we whittled the evidence down to only a handful of images. While we were attacking the government’s case, we were also developing a strong case on our client’s behalf by highlighting his potential for rehabilitation, his work ethic, and his family’s strong commitment to getting him back on his feet. On the eve of trial, the government agreed to cap his sentence at 8 months in exchange for a guilty plea. At trial, the expectation was that the judge would sentence the sailor to a minimum of 18 months and a Dishonorable Discharge. However, because of the strength of our sentencing case, the judge sentenced him to only 9 months and a Bad Conduct Discharge. When the judge discovered the terms of the pretrial agreement, he noted that either someone really liked the sailor or really liked his attorneys, because the pretrial agreement was so favorable. Ultimately, the sailor got the benefit of the pretrial agreement, which capped his sentence at 8 months.

Child pornography charges against NCO in Iraq dropped

A reservist NCO was called back to active duty to face charges related to possessing child pornography while on a deployment to Iraq. We attacked the case during the Article 32 hearing. We conducted our own investigation and found witnesses who corroborated our client’s side of the story. We cross-examined the government’s witnesses and got helpful information from them. We conducted a thorough cross-examination of the government’s computer analyst and demonstrated that the government could not prove the NCO had any knowledge that he had child pornography on his external hard drive. After the Article 32 hearing, the government offered to drop the court-martial if our client would accept nonjudicial punishment. We refused the offer, and convinced the Army to drop the case altogether.

Sailor facing General Court Martial, GS&A gets court martial dropped

The Navy brought a sailor to a general court martial for one count of AWOL, 10 counts of missing movement, one count of false official statement, two counts involving child pornography. The government had computer images and signed statements of the sailor linking him to the child pornography allegations. By demonstrating that the investigators illegally searched the sailor’s computer, we convinced the military judge to suppress all evidence of child pornography. The government dropped these charges, dropped the court martial, and we convinced the prosecutors to allow our client to separate from the Navy without facing criminal prosecution for the AWOL and the missing movement charges.

19-year NCO acquitted of child pornography charges

A senior NCO former first sergeant with 19 years of experience was accused of child pornography possession. Based on our vigorous cross-examination of the government’s computer forensic expert during the court martial, we were able to convince the jury that the government had failed to prove that the NCO had knowingly accessed or downloaded child pornography onto his computer. The government was unable to respond to the defense attacks on the evidence and so the jury returned a finding of not guilty. The NCO was allowed to retire honorably after finishing his remaining year of service.

Airman facing years in jail for child pornography gets no jail time

An E-3 was charged with possession of child pornography. The photographs were discovered in his room during a random dormitory inspection and he later confessed to knowing he had the illegal pictures. We put on a vigorous defense at court martial and presented a strong case in mitigation at sentencing. The defendant ultimately received a sentence including only a Bad Conduct Discharge and reduction in rank with no jail time.

Retirement saved for NCO with 20 years in service

An E-6 with 20 years of service time was charged at court martial with possession of child pornography. Military investigators discovered child pornography on his home computer and our client eventually confessed to knowing he downloaded and viewed those images. The defense fought the court martial in front of a jury and provided a thick package of personal information in mitigation during the sentencing phase of the court martial. Based upon the defense’s efforts, the jury returned a sentence of only 30 days confinement and reduction of two grades – allowing the defendant to retire and still receive his full benefits in spite of his conviction.

Airman accused of child pornography, GS&A proves police search was illegal

A young airman was accused of possession of child pornography. He was found to have child pornography in his dorm room and confessed to investigators about his actions in downloading and printing the pictures. At the court martial, we convinced the military judge to suppress the images based upon an unlawful search. The airman was allowed to separate from the Air Force without the stigma of a conviction.