Arizona Court Finds Warrant Was Not “Stale” in Recent Case Involving the Possession of Child Pornography

In a recent opinion from an Arizona court involving child pornography, the defendant’s request for the court to reconsider his guilty verdict was denied. The defendant was found guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor under the age of fifteen. He filed a motion to suppress evidence, arguing that the officers who found incriminating information did not have the kind of warrant they needed to be able to legally search his home. The appellate court denied the appeal because it found that the warrant was, in fact, valid, even though it had been five months between when the warrant was issued and when the officers made use of the warrant to search for evidence.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, AOL Inc. filed a report in March 2014 after having discovered an email with the subject line, “Re: trade” with an image attached that appeared to contain child pornography. Once officers in Arizona received notice of the image, they subpoenaed the internet service provider to obtain subscriber information for the person who sent the email. Five months later, the officers followed the warrant’s information to the defendant’s home address. They discovered hundreds of images that were classified as child pornography. While the officers were in the defendant’s home, the defendant also admitted to having possessed and distributed child pornography for several years.

After trial, the defendant was convicted and sentenced to twenty counts of sexual exploitation. He appealed, maintaining that the trial court should have suppressed the evidence the officers found in his home.

The Decision

The defendant argued in his appeal that the warrant the officers used was “stale.” Five months passed between when they subpoenaed the internet service provider for information and when they searched the defendant’s home. The defendant pointed out that in those five months, there was no evidence of continuous activity that could have made the officers suspicious of him. There was a substantial delay before the warrant was executed, said the defendant, and it was unreasonable for the officers to think the warrant was still valid several months later.

The court disagreed with the defendant. In large part, the court relied on information from detectives who testified as to their knowledge of child pornography collectors. According to these detectives, people who collect child pornography often keep the pornography for many years, and they do not tend to be without their pornographic images for any long period of time. Based on this information, the court said, it was reasonable for the officers to think the defendant might still have pornographic images in his possession. The court thus affirmed the defendant’s convictions and sentences.

Were You Arrested for Pornography in Arizona?

Many people in Arizona are unfairly arrested on charges of possession of pornography. If you have been convicted of a crime, your best defense is a dedicated, skilled criminal defense attorney. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we are ready to carefully build your case and make sure your voice is heard. With over a decade of experience in criminal defense, we know the law and we are ready to use our knowledge and experience on your behalf. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 480-413-1499.


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