Arizona Criminal Law and Procedure Blog

Plea Deal in Celebrity Child Pornography Case

Posted by Steven Sherick | Oct 13, 2017 | 0 Comments

Mark Salling, most known for his acting and singing role in “Glee,” was charged with 2 counts of child pornography. In 2015, law enforcement raided his home and found more than 25,000 images and 160 videos of child pornography and 29,000 images of child erotica stored on his computer. If convicted, he could have faced up to 20 years in prison. 

According to the USA Today, on September 30, 2017, Mark Salling along with his attorneys signed a plea deal, and on October 3, 2017, Sandra R. Brown, Acting United States Attorney, signed the same plea deal. In return for his admission of guilt, prosecutors are recommending a minimum of 48 months to a maximum of 84 months imprisonment, which would be followed by 20 years of supervised release and a fine as determined by the court. He also must pay $50,000 restitution to each victim requesting it. The real kicker, however, is Salling's agreement not to have any contact or communications with any person under the age of 18 unless certain conditions are met: (1) the legal guardian of the minor is present; and/or (2) the legal guardian has been informed of Mark Salling's conviction. Upon his release, according to Huffington Post, he will be “restricted from going within 100 feet of schoolyards, parks, public swimming pools, playgrounds, video arcades or any place frequented by minors.” He is also required to register as a sex offender and must undergo counseling or psychiatric treatment.

Mark Salling lives and was arrested in California. But the possession of child pornography is -- as already mentioned federally illegal -- and according to Arizona Revised Statute § 13-3553, a person in Arizona “commits sexual exploitation of a minor by knowingly… possessing… any visual depiction in which a minor is engaged in exploitive or other sexual conduct.” Under Arizona law, the incarceration consequences are serious. One image of child pornography can result in up to 10 years in prison, and each additional image could result in a consecutive sentence. As the case with Mark Salling proves, you can -- no matter who you are or how much wealth you have -- be charged and convicted of child pornography. It is because of the severity of the charge and the consequences of a conviction that, if charged with child pornography, whether legitimately or not, a person must seek an experienced legal team who knows not only the law but, more importantly, knows (1) how the prosecution team works; and (2) how to negotiate effectively and strategically with the prosecution based on the latter knowledge. If convicted, the amount of time spent behind bars and the quality of life once released is contingent on the quality of representation.

About the Author

Steven Sherick

Steve Sherick is a "near native" Arizonan having lived most of his life in Tucson.  He received his undergraduate and legal education at the University of Arizona.  Since 1980 he has devoted all of his practice to criminal law, always in defense of those accused of crimes.  He received his Board ...


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