Wisconsin Court of Appeals Upholds Child Pornography Conviction Following Plea Deal

By Reddin & Singer

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In State v. Babcock, a man allegedly sent an undercover police officer who was posing as the mother of two children pornographic images of children over the internet. In addition, the man purportedly provided the law enforcement officer with his telephone number in order to discuss having a sexual encounter with the fake children. Soon after the online encounter, local police obtained a search warrant based on the affidavit of the undercover police officer. In his affidavit, the officer described the online transaction and made a number of general statements regarding the supposed proclivities of individuals who seek out child pornography.

While executing the search warrant, local police seized the man’s personal computer and hard drives. Law enforcement officers estimated that approximately 45 percent of the 16,000 pornographic images and videos recovered depicted minors who were nude or engaged in sexual acts. Additionally, about 1,000 of the images involved pre-pubescent children. Nearly 50 of those images involved children engaged in sexual intercourse or suggestive acts. Police reportedly found no evidence to suggest that the man committed a sexual offense towards any of the children depicted in the photos.

Next, the man was charged with two counts of possession of child pornography. In response, the man entered into a plea agreement with the State of Wisconsin. As part of the arrangement, the State agreed to dismiss one of the two child pornography counts and refrain from bringing additional charges related to the evidence uncovered in the future. Before he was sentenced, the man obtained new counsel. Neither attorney sought to suppress the evidence obtained through the search warrant.

Ultimately, the man was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison and 20 years of extended supervision. After the court denied his postconviction motion for resentencing or a suppression of evidence hearing, the man appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District II.

On appeal, the Wisconsin court addressed the man’s claims that any evidence obtained via the search warrant should be suppressed because it included allegedly false statements about the supposed habits of persons who seek out child pornography. According to the appellate court, the man forfeited his right to have the court consider the issue when he entered his guilty plea. The court stated that, although it had discretion to consider the issue, the man failed to provide it with a compelling reason to do so. The Court of Appeals also said the man’s motion was deficient because he did not claim he would have withdrawn his plea if the evidence at issue was suppressed. As a result, the court held that the alleged search warrant defects were not sufficient to merit the requested relief.

After that, the court dismissed each of the man’s four challenges to his sentencing. According to the appellate court, the trial court adequately explained why it issued the sentence imposed, the sentence was properly based on the court’s analysis of the evidence offered, the trial court did not rely on an improper factor during sentencing, and the man’s sentence was not so excessive and disproportionate as to be unduly harsh. The court added that the sentence imposed was well below the maximum allowed by Wisconsin law. Because of this, the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin, District II affirmed the lower court’s judgment and order.

Child pornography cases are challenging and should be handled by a quality Milwaukee sex crimes lawyer who is familiar with this area of law. To learn more about your rights and options, do not hesitate to contact the law offices of Reddin & Singer, LLP online or give us a call today at (414) 271-6400. We may also be reached using our phone number (414) 271-6400.

Additional Resources

State v. Babcock, Wis: Court of Appeals, 2nd Dist. 2014

Photo Credit: blary54, freeimages