Most people are aware that possessing child porn is a serious federal and state crime with severe punishments.
Sadly, it appears such penalties led to the suicide of prominent Texas-born singer, actor and musician Mark Salling, formerly of the hit Fox TV series Glee. At age 35, he hung himself in a wooded area six miles from his home in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 30th, 2018.
A native of Dallas, Salling pleaded guilty in October 2017 to one count of possessing child porn involving a prepubescent minor. After a plea bargain for that offense, he was facing punishments of four to seven years in a federal prison, to have been followed by 20 years of supervised release as well as registration as a sex offender.
Salling was also to be fined $250,000 and ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution to each of his victims who claimed it. Those victims can no longer make such claims from Salling’s estate, since sentencing was not formally completed. They can, however, still sue the estate for damages.
Salling, who played high school bad boy and glee club member Noah “Puck” Puckerman on the award-winning musical dramedy Glee from 2009-2015, was due to be sentenced March 7th. Instead, he chose to take his own life by hanging himself from a tree near Starwood Riding Club.
It wasn’t his first suicide attempt.
Salling reportedly cut his wrists in his bedroom last August, as his trial loomed. He was also known to be on medication for depression.
Although many child porn offenses are serious crimes involving the production, distribution, and selling of illegal images — and punishments can be rightly severe — this case involved only one count of possessing child porn and there was no physical sexual contact with children.
But in today’s climate of public outrage, media grandstanding by authorities, and massive federal funding to spur sex stings by law enforcers cracking down on anyone remotely linked to child porn, life-changing punishments are routine.
And in Mark Salling’s case, it amounted to a life-ending punishment.
Child porn charges hit people from all walks of life — even those with no prior criminal record. Many have been snared in the wide nets cast by local, state and federal authorities. These authorities concentrate their law enforcement resources on securing as many widely publicized child porn arrests, charges, and convictions as possible.
Sadly, this crackdown may be having unintended side effects.
According to a 2011 study, “men and women who have had contact with the criminal justice system appear to have a significantly higher rate of suicide than the general population.”
This higher suicide rate occurs even if a defendant has never received a jail or prison sentence or a guilty verdict.
And child porn charges are surprisingly common in Houston and throughout much of Texas.
If you or a family member face an existing or possible child porn charge, keep in mind the seriousness of criminal charges and the severity of child porn punishments. You need a skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced child porn lawyer who serves Houston and the rest of Harris County, Fort Bend County and Montgomery County. You need Houston defense attorney Neal Davis.
The Neal Davis Law Firm has helped many clients in their defense against possession of child porn by getting their charges reduced or even dropped prior to trial. In fact, recently Neal Davis was able to get a federal judge to throw out the confession — illegally induced by an FBI agent — of a Houston man facing a child porn charge.
Contact our law firm today for a case review when facing a child porn charge. These charges can lead to such severe punishments that it’s vital to get the best child porn lawyer in Texas to defend you.