By Joe Beck
FRONT ROYAL -- A 20-year-old man pleaded guilty Tuesday to five counts of possessing child pornography with intent to distribute, but his conviction could be downgraded in about a year if he complies with the terms of a one-year probation sentence.
Bobby Matthew Miranda, of 518 Randolph Ave., entered the pleas for offenses committed in his home in March.
Authorities executed a search warrant at Miranda's home on April 4 where he confessed to viewing child pornography that he had downloaded using peer-to-peer file sharing software on a computer.
"He freely admitted he was aware of that material, aware of that program and how it worked," Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Layton told Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp.
The sentence reflected a plea agreement Layton reached with defense attorney Nancie Kie, both of whom cited mitigating factors for why Miranda deserved a sentence far less than the maximum of 20 years in prison he could have received on each of the five counts.
Under terms of the one-year probation sentence, Miranda must undergo a sexual-psychological evaluation and follow ensuing treatment. If he complies, the convictions will be reduced to simple possession of child pornography, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Kie said her client never intended to distribute the pornography and viewed it only for three or four minutes at a time, which indicated he was trying to limit its viewership to himself.
"Incarceration is really not beneficial in this scenario because he really needs treatment, and we're setting that up," Kie told Hupp.
Layton cited Miranda's "extreme young age" and several other factors as reasons why he agreed not to seek incarceration. The other factors included Miranda's cooperation and willingness to accept responsibility; the likelihood that he did not intend for anyone else to view the pornography he had downloaded and the departure from Miranda's home of an adult family member who is a registered sex offender.
Layton said he hoped treatment would prevent Miranda from committing additional and more serious pornography related offenses.
"Essentially what we're trying to do here, your honor, is nip this in the bud," Layton told Hupp.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org