Child Pornography Possession Case Law in California

In People v. Hertzig (2007) 156 Cal.App.4th 398, the defendant had multiple videos of children engaged in sexual acts on his computer. (Hertzig, supra, 156 Cal.App.4th at p. 400.) The prosecution charged the defendant with, and a jury convicted him of, 10 counts of possession of child pornography. (Id. at pp. 400-401.) On appeal, the defendant argued his possession of multiple child pornography videos constituted a single violation of section 311.11(a). (Hertzig, at p. 401.) The Court agreed. The Court reviewed cases involving multiple convictions for other types of possession crimes and derived two distinct principles from them. (Id. at p. 402.) First, the simultaneous possession of multiple items of one type of contraband constitutes a single violation. (Id. at pp. 402-403.) Second, the simultaneous possession of two types of contraband in the same location constitutes a single violation. (Id. at p. 403.) Applying these principles, the Court concluded the defendant's possession of multiple pornographic videos on his laptop computer constituted a single act of possession under section 311.11(a). (Hertzig, at p. 403.) In People v. Manfredi (2008) 169 Cal.App.4th 622, the defendant was also charged with multiple counts of possession of child pornography in violation of Penal Code section 311.11(a), based on his simultaneous possession in his home of multiple images of child pornography found on different media (specifically, on "multiple computers, multiple hard drives, multiple discs, and multiple tapes" (Manfredi, at p. 625), rather than on one computer as in Hertzig (Manfredi, at pp. 624-625). The Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, affirmed the trial court's dismissal following the sustaining of a demurrer to all but one of the section 311.11(a) possession of child pornography counts, holding the defendant's "simultaneous possession of multiple child pornography materials at the same location is chargeable as but one criminal offense under section 311.11(a)." (Manfredi, supra, 169 Cal.App.4th at p. 624.)