U.S. Military Lawyer - The Law Office of Stephen P. Karns

Child Pornography/Internet Sex Offenses

Child pornography is the visual depiction, through electronic, digital, or other media, of the sexual activity or genitals (depicted in a lewd or salacious manner) of a person under the age of eighteen. It is illegal to possess, produce, distribute (by electronic mail, for instance) or sell child pornography. All branches of the service aggressively investigate and prosecute this crime. If you are accused of having any level of involvement with child pornography, the representation of an experienced military attorney such as Mr. Karns is essential to protect your rights and save your freedom and/or career.

Regardless of the circumstances, offenses related to children or the internet, whether or not they involve a government computer, are being aggressively pursued by all military investigative agencies. In addition to child pornography, these cases also include offenses related to the internet, such as solicitation of a minor, which typically results from an “internet sting” operation by law enforcement involving an illicit “chat room” exchange with a minor. A conviction for these offenses can include the loss of your military career, significant confinement, a punitive discharge, a federal conviction, and sex offender registration.

Mr. Karns is experienced and well prepared to advise and defend you in these types of cases. It is imperative to have an experienced military attorney examine the government’s evidence against you, including the direct physical evidence and any statements you may have made to investigators. It may be necessary to hire an independent forensic computer expert to assist in your defense. Mr. Karns is experienced in all aspects of defending you against the allegations, from pre-trial negotiations, to securing a reduction in the offense level, to a contested trial. Having an experienced, highly skilled trial attorney such as Mr. Karns working for your side of the case gives you the best opportunity to avoid a lifetime of negative consequences resulting from these types of charges.


Past Cases

Client was a 1LT in the Army stationed at Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan. Client's apartment was raided by local officials and CID as a location where child pornography had been downloaded. Several electronic items were seized, including external hard drives, USB “thumb” drives, a cell phone, and a laptop computer. On the various media and devices, a forensic examination revealed 983 image files and 41 multimedia (movie) files of suspected child pornography. Client hired Attorney Karns to assist him avoid the onerous consequences of a prosecution. Client’s command agreed to allow him to resign in lieu of a court-martial thus avoiding any jail time, a criminal conviction, and having to register as a sex offender.

Client was a Private in the Army who was charged with possessing several images of child pornography. Further, Client admitted to CID he knowingly possessed the images and was sexually aroused by them. Client hired Mr. Karns to defend him at a court-martial. Mr. Karns filed a motion to suppress Client’s statements to CID on the basis that he was improperly denied access to an attorney by the government prior to giving those statements. The government agreed to the motion and the Client was granted a Chapter 10, which allowed him to be administratively separated without receiving a criminal conviction, jail time, or having to register as a sex offender.

SPC stationed at Fort Leonard Wood charged with possession of child pornography on his personal computer and an external hard drive. The forensic report of the computer and hard drive revealed Client possessed images and videos some of which were confirmed to be child pornography by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Moreover, Client confessed to CID that he searched for child pornography by using a file sharing program called Lime Wire.

Subsequent to the Article 32 hearing officer’s recommendation that charges go to a general court-martial, Client hired Attorney Karns. Attorney Karns immediately submitted requests for a false confessions expert, a computer forensics expert, and a Board Certified Forensic Psychologist. In addition, at Client’s request, Attorney Karns submitted a request for administrative separation in lieu of a court-martial (Ch.10). As part of the Ch. 10 request, Attorney Karns submitted sixteen character letters from supervisors and fellow soldiers as well as friends and family detailing Client’s good character and outstanding duty performance as a medic in Iraq. Moreover, Attorney Karns also submitted Client’s numerous Certificates of Training and military awards and honors.

The Staff Judge Advocate agreed to support the Ch. 10, and the commanding general approved it. Client did not receive a federal conviction, did not have to serve jail time, and is not required to register as a sex offender.

Air Force Major pilot chatted on-line with who he believed was a minor, but was a member of Perverted Justice, the group who works with NBC Dateline’s To Catch a Predator. His personal laptop computer was seized, and he was charged with Solicitation of a Minor, Attempting to take Indecent Liberties with a Minor, Possession of Child Pornography and Possession of Photos depicting Bestiality. Client wanted Attorney Karns to negotiate a plea bargain. Attorney Karns negotiated a dismissal of the Possession of Child Pornography and Bestiality charges. And, the Solicitation of a Minor and Attempting to take Indecent Liberties charges were both changed to Indecent Language with a Minor. Client could have received several years of confinement and be required to register as a sex offender. Client received only three months confinement and a Dismissal.

PFC stationed in Korea charged with possession of child pornography on his personal laptop computer and false official statement. Prior to the Art. 32 hearing, the Government offered Client a 30 month deal which would require sex offender registration and likely include a Bad Conduct Discharge. On Attorney Karns' advice, Client turned down the offer. Attorney Karns traveled to Korea for the Article 32 hearing. After the hearing, the Government trial counsel asked Attorney Karns to "state his terms" for an offer. Attorney Karns said Client would take a Ch. 10 administrative discharge which would avoid a federal conviction, jail time, and sex offender registration for Client. Government trial counsel scoffed and said, "The bottom-line is that he has child porn on his machine... He was charged with possession. He will be convicted on these facts. His status as a sex offender is guaranteed. The only question is whether he wants to negotiate a cap on his sentence." Six weeks later after we still do not give in and win a request for a computer forensics expert, the Government agrees to support a Ch. 10, and it gets approved. Client does not receive a federal conviction, does not have to serve jail time, and is not required to register as a sex offender.

Air Force Tech Sergeant was charged with nine specifications of possession of child pornography on his computer and confessed to possessing the images prior to retaining Attorney Karns. Two of the images were confirmed as actual victims from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A conviction for possession of child pornography would require Client to register as a sex offender. Through pre-trial negotiations at the Client’s request, Attorney Karns was able to convince the wing commander to dismiss all of the specifications for child porn and refer a new specification for possession of obscene images under the federal statute. Because Client pled guilty to an obscene images specification, Client was not required to register as a sex offender.



* Past results achieved are not a guarantee of future results. Each case is unique and reference must be made to the specific legal and factual circumstances presented.


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