November 3, 2015 By Stephen Klarich

Deleting Child Pornography from Your Computer Doesn’t Remove it from Your Hard Drive – PC 311.11(a).

If you think that deleting child pornography (Penal Code Section 311.11(a).) that you found on the Internet will protect you from prosecution, think again. The data is actually saved (cached) in temporary internet files. Your hard drive still retains the images, so anything short of wiping out the hard drive completely can get you into serious trouble if your computers are ever searched by law enforcement.

Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience defending clients in Southern California against serious registerable sex offenses such as possession of child pornography. With our help, you may be able to avoid a lengthy prison sentence, fines, and worst of all, lifetime sex offender registration.

Our attorneys want to share with you a case recently decided by the Court of Appeals where a man challenged his conviction of possessing child pornography claiming insufficient evidence because he had deleted the folders containing the unlawful material…and lost.

People v. Mahoney, E055162 (Court of Appeal, October 17, 2013)

deleting child pornography
Deleting child pornography from your computer will not free you from a crime.

Defendant Clark David Mahoney, Jr. was convicted of possession of child pornography after a search of the four computers found in his home determined that he had used google to search for and ultimately visit websites containing child pornography. Although the folders containing the offending images had been deleted, they had been automatically saved in either temporary internet files or in unallocated space within the defendant’s hard drive, which means they had to have been opened on the computer’s desktop and displayed at some point. A jury convicted the defendant of possessing child pornography or child erotica pursuant to PC 311.11(a). He was granted probation, but he is subject to mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender.

On appeal, the defendant claimed that there was insufficient evidence that a crime occurred within a 10-year statute of limitations, there was insufficient evidence to support the verdict, and that PC 311.11(a) is void for vagueness. The Court of Appeal rejected his claims and upheld his conviction.

Why Deleting Child Pornography from Your Computer Does Not Protect You

The court ruled: “[W]e have declared that, [i]n the electronic context, a person can receive and possess child pornography without downloading it, if he or she seeks it out and exercised dominion and control over it.‟ [Citations.] Thus, [defendant] properly concedes that he did knowingly receive and possess the…images that he downloaded. But [defendant] was charged with [receipt and possession of]…images, which appeared in his cache files [i.e., Deleted Temporary Internet Files]…. According to the evidence before the district court, when a person accesses a web page, his web browser will automatically download that page into his Active Temporary Internet Files, so that when the site is revisited the information will come up much more quickly than it would have if it had not been stored on the computer’s own hard drive.”

If You are Convicted of Possession of Child Pornography, You Face Serious Consequences

Under PC 311.11(a), if you knowingly possess or control material containing images of minors engaged in sexual conduct, you are guilty of a felony. Your conviction can result in a sentence of up to one year in county jail or a state prison sentence of up to three years, a $2,500 fine, or both.

Most devastating, you will be required to register as a sex offender under PC 290 for the rest of your life while residing, working or attending school in California. Your name, picture and address may be publicly listed on California’s Megan’s Law website of sex offenders ( for your neighbors, employer and community to view whenever they wish.

Wallin & Klarich Can Help You Avoid the Serious Consequences of a Child Pornography Possession Conviction

If you or someone you love has been charged with possession of child pornography, you need to speak with an attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately. The child pornography defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully representing our clients charged with registerable sex offenses.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, the experienced child pornography defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are available 24/7 to help you avoid jail or prison time, fines, and most importantly, lifetime registration as a sex offender. We will pursue every option to make certain you get the best possible result in your case.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

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