Long story short – for quite some time Georgia prosecutors have charged people charged with sexual exploitation of children with numerous counts by stacking the charges. This allows for lengthy prison sentences after trial, like Peter Mallory’s 1000 year sentence out of Troup County. Prosecutors do this by charging people with one count of possession for each illegal image found to be possessed simultaneously.
The law is changing though. The Georgia Supreme Court said that someone may only be prosecuted for one count when there is only one act of possession.
At trial, a jury convicted Mr. Edvalson of 22 counts of sexual exploitation of children. He was charged for 11 images – one count for possessing each image and one count for possessing with the intent to distribute each image. After conviction, the counts merged for sentencing and he was sentenced on 11 counts to sixty years to serve 19 years in the state prison.
The Georgia Supreme Court was tasked with determining whether the 11 convictions should have been merged into conviction. The Georgia Supreme Court determined that the law is clear – only one prosecution and conviction can come from the possession of child pornography, regardless of the number of images.
Georgia law reads that:
It is unlawful for any person knowingly to create, reproduce, publish, promote, sell, distribute, give, exhibit, or possess with intent to sell or distribute any visual medium which depicts a minor or a portion of a minor’s body engaged in any sexually explicit conduct.
The word “any” in this context refers to how many visual mediums someone has. And the word any in this particular law means any amount of the visual medium, whether there are one or one hundred images. So, in one course of conduct, the prosecutors can only obtain a conviction and a judge can only sentence someone for one county of simultaneous possession of child pornography.
J. Ryan Brown Law, LLC