Appeals Court Denies Wisconsin Man's Request to Reduce His Child Pornography Sentence

By Reddin & Singer

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In State v. Townsend, a Wisconsin man was indicted on two counts of possession of child pornography after he apparently admitted to possessing more than 1,000 illegal images on his computer. In response to the charges, the man entered a plea of no contest. He also sought out voluntary therapy for sex addiction. As a result of the charges, the man faced a presumptive minimum prison sentence of three years for each count. At that time, courts had discretion as to whether or not to impose the presumptive sentence. However, it is now mandatory for courts to impose at least 3 years of imprisonment for convictions involving possession of child pornography.

A presentence investigation report stated the man was not likely to commit the crime again. Despite this, the report indicated that he should have sought additional treatment for his sex addiction. In the end, the author of the report recommended that the defendant receive a sentence of three years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. The defendant also submitted a presentence investigation report that stated it was vital he remain in the community and recommended he receive a withheld prison term in addition to three years of probation.

At his sentencing hearing, the defendant’s counselor testified that the man made significant progress during the 33 sex addiction counseling sessions he engaged in. On cross-examination, however, the counselor admitted he was not a psychologist and stated the defendant claimed he viewed the illegal photos by accident. The counselor also said he did not have a great deal of experience treating sex offenders without assistance. Since the court found that the defendant failed to show it was in the best interests of the community to reduce his sentence, he was ordered to serve concurrent terms of three years in prison followed by five years of extended supervision.

Next, the defendant filed a post-conviction motion seeking to reduce his child pornography sentence. According to the man, the circuit court misconstrued his counselor’s testimony when it determined the counselor did not typically deal with sex offenders. The court stated the counselor exhibited a lack of experience with individuals who collect images depicting child pornography. Additionally, the court dismissed the man’s claim that the court should have articulated its reason for imposing the presumptive minimum prison sentence in the case because such a statement was not required by law.

On appeal, Wisconsin’s Third District Court of Appeals first stated a defendant who seeks to modify his or her prison sentence must demonstrate through clear and convincing evidence that the sentence was based on inaccurate information. The appellate court then said the defendant failed to show his sentence was based on error or ignored the man’s specific circumstances. In fact, the court found that the lower court took into account a variety of facts before imposing its sentence.

Ultimately, the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District III affirmed the man’s child pornography sentence.

If you were charged with a sex crime such as child pornography in Wisconsin, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. To speak with a hardworking criminal lawyer today, contact the law offices of Reddin & Singer, LLP through our website or give us a call at (414) 271-6400.

Additional Resources

State v. Townsend, Wis: Court of Appeals, 3rd Dist. 2015

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