Santa Clara County Operation Chickenhawk Child Porn Sting Names Accused without Due Process

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Several San Jose and Santa Clara county news publications, including the San Jose Mercury News, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Patch posted articles regarding recent arrests related to the possession of child pornography. This police crackdown which they are calling “Operation Chickenhawk” has reportedly resulted in 11 arrests in Santa Clara County. Summit Defense Attorneys urges these news agencies not to publish the names of those accused.

San Jose Criminal Attorney

Summit Defense Attorneys

I understand why these consequences cannot control what you decide to publish. However, possession of child pornography is an offense whereby the mere accusation, if made public, can destroy lives.

Summit Defense Attorneys, a Bay Area criminal defense law firm with a practice that focuses on the defense of sex crimes, is actively lobbying local news agencies not to publicize the names of those accused. According to attorney Steve Davidson, “this is a critical period where allegations are unproven, but reputations can be ruined.”

Summit Defense Attorneys has contacted local county news organizations to explain why releasing the names of those accused is inappropriate at this stage.

The contents of this letter to the press are below:

Dear Editor:

I am a criminal defense attorney at Summit Defense, a firm that specializes in defending sex offense allegations in the Bay Area. I am writing you to respectfully request that you consider not publishing child pornography suspects’ pictures or names unless and until they’re convicted. Possession of child pornography is a serious crime - if convicted, defendants face significant jail time and lifetime sex offender registration.

Beyond jail and registration, a conviction can destroy reputation, career, and family. For those convicted after the benefit of due process, these consequences may be appropriate. However, as you know, an arrest is not a conviction. Law enforcement, (state and federal) often make mistakes. I have had several clients arrested for having child pornography on their computers who were later exonerated. In some cases, others had used the computer. Also, investigation sometimes reveals that images were downloaded inadvertently along with legal content.

I understand why this is news. However, the stigma attached to an accusation of this kind, can be ruinous. These men have not been convicted of anything, yet their reputation is already destroyed by the story. Some will lose their jobs when a co-worker sees the story or booking picture. Their families will suffer financially and the humiliation may be more than some can bear. Any lawyer that defends sex allegation cases will tell you that suicide is a concern.

I understand why these consequences cannot control what you decide to publish. However, possession of child pornography is an offense whereby the mere accusation, if made public, can destroy lives. None of these men have been convicted - in law there’s a presumption of innocence. However, their neighbors, children’s classmates, co-workers - few will give them the benefit of that presumption if they see the story in your paper. Please consider the potential harm before publishing booking photos. It’s very possible that one or more of these men will be exonerated.    

About Summit Defense Attorneys

Summit Defense Attorneys is one of the San Francisco Bay Area's largest and most experienced groups of Bay Area Criminal Defense Attorneys that only represents individuals charged with or accused of a crime. With over 15 years of experience, the Summit Defense legal team includes two former prosecutors, a former Police Officer and attorneys who graduated from the country's top law schools including Harvard.

Summit Defense also has an in-house Immigration Attorney who works with non-citizen Summit Defense clients.

Every day Summit Defense Attorneys are in Bay Area and Sacramento area courtrooms fighting for clients' freedom, insisting on the presumption of innocence, and taking police and prosecutors to task when they violate their clients' rights.

Summit Defense Attorneys offers a free initial consultation and their staff is available 24/7 to answer legal questions. Summit Defense is proud to be an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau and a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Their accomplishments in the courtroom are well known in the legal community and include a recent a double murder trial win and the dismissal of a molestation charge.

To speak with one of their attorneys, please call (408) 333-9622.
Summit Defense Attorneys
2570 N. 1st Street
2nd Floor
San Jose, CA 95131

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Summit Defense Attorney Steve Davidson