The State of Florida aggressively prosecutes sex crimes involving children. Specifically, State’s Attorneys often pursue the maximum sentences possible for those accused of committing certain sex crimes such as those involving child pornography. Child pornography-related offenses are associated with severe consequences that can affect an offender's life for years to come. Such repercussions include jail time, probation, harsh monetary fines, and the need to register as a sex offender. An offender can also face social stigma long after the term of imprisonment and probation ends.
There may be defenses available that depend upon the facts and circumstances of one’s case. However, only a Florida criminal defense attorney experienced in handling these cases can advise you as to your legal options in this regard. In some cases, a person is falsely accused of committing a child pornography-related charge. Even so, an accused should never assume that he or she will be treated fairly or that his or her innocence will be apparent once he or she provides his or her side of the story. Notwithstanding, a person facing such charges still has legal rights, and an attorney is in the best position to ensure that each step of the legal proceeding be carried out both justly and fairly.
From the early stages of one case, an accused should know that he or she can and should exercise their right to remain silent and understand that anything he or she says can be used as evidence against him or her by law enforcement and the prosecution. Moreover, it is critical for the accused to refuse the search and seizure of his or her property unless the police obtained a valid warrant.
A defendant can help improve his or her chances of having a positive outcome by hiring an attorney early on in his or her case, thereby ensuring that his or her rights are respected and that he or she has the opportunity to develop the strongest and most effective defense strategy possible.
Defending Against Child Pornography Criminal Charges
If a person is accused of a child pornography-related offense, there are a number of defenses that could apply to his or her case. Some of the defenses that may apply in one’s case are as follows:
Child Erotica – Not all images depicting minors who are naked will be labeled as child pornography. Specifically, images may be categorized as child erotica, meaning, that they are not lascivious enough to be deemed child pornography. In other words, the images may depict minors in sexually suggestive ways but are not at the level of child pornography warranting a conviction. Only an attorney can advise as to whether this defense would apply in one’s case.
Transitory Possession - To be convicted of a child pornography-related offense, the individual must intentionally view the pornographic material or knowingly possess it. There are circumstances where a person unintentionally receives child-pornographic content. Usually, the person immediately tries to delete the content without knowing that it can remain in their cache on their computer or other electronic device. In this case, the individual can assert that he or she had transitory possession of the pornographic content.
Unknowing Possession - There may be circumstances where a person’s computer or other electronic device becomes infected by a virus that involves a hacker who installs files thereon depicting child pornography. The accused in this case may assert that he or she did not know that the pornographic images were on their computer.
Substantial Assistance - There are times where an accused provides law enforcement with substantial assistance in the investigation, arrest, and conviction of a person who committed a child-pornographic offense. Under this set of circumstances, the individual who provided such assistance may assert that he or she is entitled to a reduced sentence or a suspended sentence in exchange for the valuable information that he or she provided to law enforcement.
Good Faith Reporting or Destruction – If an individual has in his or her possession three child-pornographic images or less, and makes a good faith attempt to get rid of the images or report them to law enforcement, he or she will be able to raise this defense. This defense will could not be used in cases where the defense is found with four or more child-pornographic images in his or her possession.
Adult Depiction – This defense may apply if the person depicted in the pornographic content is aged eighteen or older. If the person looks young but is an adult, the accused can raise this defense.
Unlawful collection of evidence – In order to obtain child pornography from an accused, law enforcement typically must conduct a search and seizure of his or her property, which often includes a computer, cellphone, or other electronic device. If the police do not obtain the accused’s consent to search and seize their property, or they fail to get a valid search warrant, the evidence collected as part of that unlawful search and seizure can be excluded at trial.
Sentencing and Penalties in Florida
Individuals who are convicted of a child pornography-related offense in Florida will face certain consequences, such as:
- A prison sentence of 5 to 30 years;
- Harsh monetary fines;
- A life sentence for repeat offenders;
- Registration as a sex offender;
- Restrictions on being in the presence of children, including one’s own; and/or
- Difficulty in finding gainful employment and housing, since anyone can access the offender’s criminal background information.
Child pornography-related offenses, at any level, are not tolerated in Florida. Therefore, even if a person possesses one child-pornographic image, this will be sufficient for the prosecution to seek criminal charges.
Federal Charges and Penalties for Florida Child Pornography Charges
If a person distributes images, files, or videos that contain child pornography over the internet or via the mail, he or she can be charged with a federal offense, which carries with it extended jail time, harsh monetary fines, and mandatory sex offender registration. Under federal law, prosecutors can seek to enhance the sentencing of an individual if the images in his or her possession are sadistic, masochistic, or depict a child under the age of twelve.
Contact Musca Law Today. Your Liberty Depends Upon It!
To learn more about how the child pornography defense lawyers at Musca Law can make a difference for you, call (888) 484-5057 today.