Conviction Upheld for Wisconsin Man Accused of Uploading Child Pornography Photos to Internet Groups

By Reddin & Singer

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In recent years, police in Wisconsin and elsewhere have attempted to crack down on internet predators and the possession and distribution of child pornography online. In State v. Gonzalez-Villarreal, a man was charged with five counts of possession of child pornography in violation of Wisconsin law in 2009. Police apparently executed a search warrant after linking the man to an email address that uploaded child pornography to specific online groups. When law enforcement officers executed the warrant, they discovered about 1,100 suspected child pornography images on the man’s computer.

The accused man pleaded “not guilty” to possession of child pornography charges, and the case proceeded to trial. During trial, the defendant unsuccessfully sought to exclude certain evidence related to his knowledge of the photos found on his computer. The trial court refused the defendant’s request, and a jury convicted him of possession of child pornography.

After the man was convicted, he filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District One. In his appeal, the defendant argued his conviction should be overturned because the trial court committed a number of errors.

The appellate court first addressed the defendant’s claim that he was denied his right to a speedy trial. According to the court, the man’s right was not violated because the delays in the case were largely attributable to the defense. In addition, the court found there was no evidence the delays caused by the prosecution were designed to or actually did impair the man’s defense.

Next, the First District dismissed the defendant’s argument that his right to equal protection was violated as a result of unreasonable discovery restrictions, since the trial record did not support his claim. The appellate court then turned to the defendant’s assertion that the trial court committed error when it admitted testimony related to the man’s knowledge that the incriminating photos were on his hard drive. The court found that the trial court properly exercised its discretion to admit the evidence because it was offered for an acceptable purpose, it was relevant, and “the probative value of the evidence was not substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.”

The appeals court also found that the trial court did not commit error when it refused to provide jurors with the defendant’s proffered instructions because he failed to demonstrate how the proposed instructions would have prevented the jury from determining he was guilty of the charges. In fact, the court said his proposed instructions would likely have harmed his case. Finally, the court refused to consider the defendant’s claim “that the trial court erroneously exercised its discretion at sentencing” because he failed to raise the issue in a post-conviction motion.

Ultimately, the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District One affirmed the defendant’s child pornography conviction.

Child pornography cases are complex and must be handled by a reputable Wisconsin attorney who is well-versed in this area of law. The law offices of Reddin & Singer, LLP provides free, no-obligation consultations to each prospective client. If you are facing criminal charges and unsure about your next steps, give the experienced lawyers at Reddin & Singer, LLP a call today at (414) 271-6400 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources

State v. Gonzalez-Villarreal, Wis: Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2015

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