Did you know that law enforcement officials can get search warrants to seize and search your personal computer for possible child porn?
That’s precisely what happened to famed cartoonist Danny Shanahan of The New Yorker magazine.
According to Daily Mail Online, New York State Police arrested Shanahan on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at his home in Rhinebeck, NY. He was taken into custody and charged with possession of a sexual performance by a child.
Prior to the arrest and charge, the Village of Rhinebeck Police Department had obtained a warrant to search the contents of Shanahan’s computer. The arrest was made on the basis of that search.
Shanahan, 64, was later released from jail. He was ordered to appear in the Village of Rhinebeck Court on Jan. 20, 2021 to face the charge.
As a contract cartoonist for The New Yorker for over 30 years, Shanahan has contributed over 1,000 cartoons to the magazine. In addition, Shanahan’s work has appeared in such major national publications as Newsweek, Time, Fortune, Playboy, Esquire and The New York Times.
A statement from The New Yorker magazine said the accusations against Shanahan “are deeply disturbing. We have suspended his freelance contract while the Dutchess County District Attorney’s office proceeds with its investigation.”
If convicted as charged, Shanahan could face up to 4 years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation. (A charge can change before a case reaches trial.)
Child porn penalties in Texas are worse
In Texas, child porn penalties and punishments are even more severe than in New York.
Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony in Texas. A single count can bring a sentence of at least 2 years and as much as 10 years in prison, along with a fine of as much as $10,000.
The penalty for distributing or intending to distribute child porn images in Texas is 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
And sentences can be stacked. So a judge can stack 1 count on another so terms run consecutively.
That’s why punishments can become worse when overzealous prosecutors seek additional penalties by urging judges to issue sentences based on individual counts. A recent case involving a man from Spring, Texas had prosecutors seeking 80 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to 8 counts of possessing child porn. That would be 10 years in prison for each count.
Federal child porn penalties are harsh
Punishments can also be harsh when it comes to federal child porn laws. The penalty for producing child porn is 15 to 30 years in federal prison when such laws are applied. If the offender had a prior conviction or produced violent or sadistic images, the penalty could be life in prison.
A first-time offender convicted of receiving or distributing child pornography in interstate or foreign commerce can face 5 to 20 years in prison under federal laws.
Get a child porn defense lawyer
As you can see from Shanahan’s case, authorities may be able to track receipts of child porn to a computer remotely and then obtain search warrants to seize and search such computers for evidence.
As you can also see, Texas punishments for child porn can be extremely harsh compared to other states. In fact, Texas punishments can be extreme when it comes to crimes in general involving children.
A problem with this is that many Americans are snared in wide nets cast by massive child porn “sting” investigations, and not all are guilty of possession of child porn.
If you or a loved one faces a Texas child porn charge, notify an experienced and knowledgeable child porn defense lawyer today to protect your legal rights. Persons living in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land or elsewhere in Harris County, Montgomery County or Fort Bend County are urged not to delay.