I am about to go to federal court this afternoon here in Atlanta for a criminal case involving sex over the internet (sometimes referred to by the over-encompassing term “child pornography”). Some lawyers shy away from these cases. I do not. These cases are often disturbing and emotionally draining, but I always welcome the opportunity to help a person and his family through one of these exceedingly difficult matters. However, over the years I’ve discovered a number of “secrets” in this type of federal criminal case.
One secret is that a vast number of people who commit sex crimes over the internet lead basically “normal” lives. Many of my clients are happily married men with grown children. Their families all report that the client was an exemplary father, never did anything remotely improper with the kids, their friends or with their spouse. But, these men all seem to have some sort of mid-life crisis where their existence goes off the rails.
A second “secret” in these troubling cases is that many of my clients seems almost compelled to commit their crimes. We’ve all seen the news stories about the guy who comes to a sting operation and says to the undercover camera, “I sure hope you aren’t a cop.” The clients often recognize in advance that they are engaging in illegal conduct, that they likely will get caught, yet they still keep going toward the “bait.” It is almost as if they are living a double life, with the “normal” rational part of their brain telling them that this is a crime and they could get caught, but the other part is driven forward to engage in the illegal conduct by some very deep part of their consciousness. After they are arrested, many clients have commented that it seems as if it was another person doing the crime. Continue reading