Interviewer: What would be the deciding factor that someone would be facing that kind of prison time or something along those lines?
Fred Dry: How old they are and if they have a criminal history or background, if and whether it’s for the same or similar things, how much child pornography they have, all the same factors. It’s not so different in criminal court in terms of evaluating the severity of a situation than it is in any other facet of life. All the things that normal people think are aggravating or mitigating circumstances are indeed those things. So, if you have a person who has one image and then he got caught and they’re 50-years old, it’s a much different thing than if it’s a 25-year old person who has 5,000 images. If you steal $10, it’s not the same as stealing a million dollars. It’s a basic crime, the same either way, theft is theft. Child pornography is child pornography but if you have 1 or 10 images, it’s a lot different than hundreds orthousands of images. However, if the child is under 13 years of age prison is mandatory. (720 ILCS5/5-5-3(C)2(V)
Child Pornography Cases Are Often Investigated Through the Internet
Interviewer: How are Child Porn cases people typically investigated?
Fred Dry: Often times, they’re found through the internet. Many of the child pornography images are well known in the child pornography community and the file names are well known to the law enforcement authorities. And when they see these file names going across the internet, they follow up on the electronic path to where they come from or went to. And then, depending upon the circumstances, sometimes if they have an IP address, then they can find out the physical, geographic location for that address and they have sufficient factual information, they can go to a judge and get a warrant to search and seize that computer.
Police Conduct Sting Operations to Search the Internet for Potential Child Pornography Offenders
So, a lot of it is done in that way. A lot of it is done where police, in their normal course of duties, go on the internet and they go into certain chat rooms and they pose as children and they engage other people in that chat room in conversation and they see where it goes. If they get propositions or if they’re going to ask you to supply pictures or they are provided with pictures. A lot of people are caught that way by police detectives going on the internet and presenting themselves as children or as people seeking child pornography.
Sting Operations Conducted on the Internet are Similar to Real Life Undercover Operations
It’s not a whole lot different than the undercover police officer going on the street to buy drugs posing as a neighborhood person and the guy on the corner who’s selling the drugs sells it to the person who’s actually a police officer and gets arrested. It’s not a whole lot different; the only difference is that one occurs on the street corner and one occurs on the internet.
Timeframe of Resolution for a Child Pornography Case in Illinois
Interviewer: How long could a case like that last potentially?
Fred Dry: I had one that lasted years. It was a very involved case involving two different counties but it all started on the internet. That case, because of the legal arm wrestling, we won a major victory in a trial court suppressing most if not all of the government’s evidence and the government appealed it and it ended up taking four-and-a-half years to resolve one felony case in each of two counties. So, that’s the extreme. I’ve never had another case take anywhere near that long but six or eight months wouldn’t be unusual for an involved felony case.