This guide gives the first steps to take emotionally, practically and legally after being arrested for downloading IIOC (Indecent Images of Children), like I was. The legal consequences may be severe, and these steps will help you minimize the risks to your career, family and liberty.


1. Stay Calm and Compliant

The initial moments of an arrest can be overwhelming, as I wrote about in my book, ‘The Knock: A True Story of an Innocent Man, a Twisted Accusation and the Fight for Truth‘, but it’s crucial to remain calm and cooperative. Resisting arrest or becoming confrontational can lead to additional legal issues. Comply with the instructions of law enforcement officers while remembering that you have rights. Nobody is above the law, including the Police, and the law is your best friend.

2. Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent


Upon arrest, remember that you have the right to remain silent. Politely inform the arresting officers that you wish to exercise this right and refrain from making any statements without legal counsel present. Anything you say during this time can be used against you later in court. In my book I explained how I chose to give a no-comment police interview. However, this had consequences for me later on in court at my trial and sentencing, so make sure you get legal representation, which is the next point.


Seek legal counsel as soon as possible after your arrest. If you cannot afford an attorney/solicitor, you have the right to a public defender/duty solicitor, and you can make this request when you are booked in at the Police Station. It will not be seen in any way as an indication of your guilt or otherwise, and the Police are used to having this request. Legal representation is critical to protecting your rights and navigating the legal process effectively whether your are innocent or guilty.

Remember, however sympathetic the police may appear, they have arrested you for a very serious offence, and you should not try and talk yourself out of this, without getting legal advice, whatever your own perceptions of the offence. It is natural to be defensive on arrest and in such situations throw up excuses to exculpate yourself, but these are meaningless unless they are a defence in law. You don’t know if they are or not until you have either seen a lawyer or read the law yourself.


If law enforcement requests permission to search your property, electronic devices, or any other belongings, you have the right to decline unless they have a valid search warrant. Consenting to searches without a warrant could potentially harm your defense. It may not be illegal to refuse entry, even after arrest, unless a search warrant is produced and you should ask to see this. If you do not refuse entry explicitly, the Police may claim that you gave them an implicit invitation. 

5. Understand the Charges


Gain a clear understanding of the specific charges against you. Charges related to downloading IIOC can vary depending on the circumstances. Your legal defense will depend on the nature of these charges. In the UK, you can be charged for possession of IIOC under two different Acts of Parliament which carry widely different sentences. Find out which Act you are being charged under and find out or ask your solicitor to give you the sentencing range. This is obviously very important whether you are guilty, and wish to understand the benefits of a plea deal, or not-guilty, like me, and wish to pursue a jury trial. In the UK downloading IIOC is an either way offense, meaning it can be tried at a Magistrate’s Court or Crown Court. If you are innocent and want a jury trial you need to plead not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court first and then the case will be referred to the Crown Court. Once the case is referred there are decreasing sentencing benefits of pleading guilty depending on the charges. 

6. Preserve Evidence


If you believe you are wrongly accused or have evidence that supports your innocence, take steps to preserve it. Refrain from deleting any relevant digital files, texts, emails, or other communications that may be crucial to your defense. If the Police have already searched your house/car/office, they will probably have removed all your digital devices, as they did with me. However, as I explained in my book, you can request access to these devices if they contain material which may be useful in your defence, like I did. Remember, just because the Police have confiscated them, doesn’t mean you cannot request access. 

7. Avoid Public Discussion


Resist the urge to discuss your arrest or the charges against you on social media or with anyone other than your attorney/solicitor. Anything you say publicly, can be used against you in court, making it advisable to maintain silence regarding your case. If you have been arrested at home, your neighbours may be aware of the arrest and you may be asked or feel obliged to explain but you should resist the invitation. There are huge ramifications. particularly if you have children, eg. schooling and children’s social services, and word can spread very quickly and neighbours may even be interviewed. Similarly friends or work colleagues may inquire about your whereabouts because, like me, you may immediately be suspended from work, but you should resist the urge to explain. The mere accusation of downloading indecent images carries a stigma – no smoke without fire, people may think – and however supportive people may be to your face, it may be the last time you speak to them. 


After your release or bail, make sure to attend all court hearings and appointments with your attorney. Failure to do so can lead to further legal complications and potentially negative consequences. In the UK, there is no longer bail, and suspects are RUI, released under investigation. This means the Police investigation is not limited to a time set for bail and so may go on for many months more than it would have previously. Do not expect anything to happen quickly, whether you are held in custody, or released under investigation. In cases of downloading IIOC, I.T. forensic evidence alone can take six weeks to process, and you may be called for one or more police interviews depending on the outcome of this. You should attend all police interviews, particularly if you are released under investigation, otherwise you may be remanded pending trial.

9. Cooperate with Your Attorney


Collaborate closely with your attorney to build a strong defense. Share all relevant information and follow their advice diligently. Your attorney is your legal advocate and usually working to protect your interests. In the US the prosecution attorney can negotiate plea bargains, and sometimes public defense attorneys in particular may be under pressure to make a plea rather than fight your case. In the UK, the prosecution barrister can only make a recommendation to the court, after negotiating with the defence barrister, and the magistrate or judge makes the final decision. The difference is that in the US there may be more pressure on the suspect to plead guilty and plea bargain.

In my experience in the UK, as I explained in my book, I was under pressure to plead guilty and accept a plea but I was determined to prove my innocence. If you are guilty, I personally think the best thing you can do is plead guilty at the earliest opportunity, obviously AFTER you have been charged, and seek professional counselling to mitigate your sentence. However, if you are innocent, like me, I  think you should fight it. Even if you are found guilty, nobody will ever be able to say you admitted guilt. But you need to have a lot of emotional resilience to do this and, even if you are innocent, the struggle is almost overwhelming.

10. Seek Emotional Support

Addiction Help Agency Offers Support for IIOC Offenders

The Addiction Help Agency Offers Support for IIOC Offenders.

Facing arrest and charges related to downloading IIOC can be emotionally challenging. As I said in my book, I was suicidal. But there is a lot of support out there, both paid and unpaid. If you can afford it, paid support from a professional counsellor is the best, and I recommend the Addiction Help Agency, if you suffer from a Porn Addiction, Low Self-Esteem, Anxiety or Depression, and they cost about £50/hour for 1:1 online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. They can also provide a written statement to Court to confirm the treatment you have been having to mitigate your sentence. In the UK you can get referral on the NHS but there is usually a long waiting list. However, there are also several free Helplines if you are in urgent need of mental health support, you can find a list here. Also, there are many forums online where you can ask for help anonymously and read about other people’s experiences, for example, Reddit and Medium. Finally, search for blogs/websites dealing with this, like this one (!) and subscribe below. I don’t post often, tbh, but I will start doing more regularly in the run up to my new book being published on 1st October 2023.


Arrest for downloading IIOC is a grave matter that requires informed and thoughtful action. Understanding your rights, staying composed, securing legal representation, and cooperating with your attorney are paramount. Throughout the legal process, maintain patience and focus, as it can be lengthy and complex. Ultimately, your goal is to secure the best possible outcome for your case, and following these informative steps will help you navigate this challenging situation more effectively. Good luck on your journey.

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Source: “The Knock: A True Story of an Innocent Man, a Twisted Accusation and the Fight for Truth” by Maxwell Winshire is available now from Seedwood Publishing at Amazon in paperback or ebook here.

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