Cell phones have now become a primary method of communication for most Americans.  More than 80 percent of the national population uses cell phones to send text messages on a regular basis.  In a typical month, Americans send approximately 80 billion text messages.  This explosion in text messaging includes a fair amount of sexting.  Sexting refers to the act of sending sexually explicit pictures or messages.  

While the law does not prohibit sexting between consenting adults, the activity can lead to criminal charges when one of the parties is underage.  If you or someone close to you has been charged with child pornography in Orlando or another Florida city, you should contact one of our Orlando Child Pornography Lawyers as soon as possible.  The attorneys in our law firm have experience and expertise handling sex crime cases.  We investigate the evidence and underlying facts and situation and aggressively attack the prosecutor’s case.  We might seek to have the images at issue excluded based on the conduct of the officer in obtaining a warrant or conducting a search or establish that the accused had no idea he or she even possessed the images.  

When a person is charged with a sex crime or any criminal offense, the accused should not talk to the police but he or she should speak with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney immediately.  In most cases where people come to us charged with child pornography, the accused admits to police that he or she was the only person who used the computer or phone This admission leads the officer and prosecutor to assume the accused downloaded the offending material.  Our attorneys work to avoid such damaging admissions, which could be used to establish intent and knowledge.

An adult can be charged with child pornography for possession of graphic images of persons under the age of 18.  Because Florida law permits someone as old as 23 to date a 16-year-old, the law surrounding sexting can get complicated.  The situation can be even more complicated because a teenager might be charged for disseminating child pornography for sending an explicit text or video to a girlfriend.  This confusion stems from the fact that lawmakers did not anticipate the widespread use of sexting when the Florida child pornography statutes were drafted.   The laws were not designed to prosecute one underage person who sends explicit selfies to his or her underage paramour.

Florida law creates a gray area for sexting adolescents because of the interaction between Florida’s age of consent, child pornography statute, and the “Romeo and Juliet” law.  Although the Romeo and Juliet law permits a 23-year-old adult to engage in sexual relations with a 16- or 17-year-old, Florida’s child pornography law does not allow minors to consent to this type of conduct.  However, Florida has subsequently updated state law to acknowledge the distinction between an adult man in his fifties texting a 16 year-year-old girl and a teenage girl sending explicit selfies to her teenage boyfriend.  While the teenage boyfriend might be in possession of child pornography according to the language of the statute, he can avoid the harsh consequences of registering as a sex offender.

Florida Statute Section 847.001(3) defines child pornography as any image of a minor involved in sexual conduct.  The prosecutor does not have to prove any sexual relationship between the parties occurred if the adult possesses the prohibited images.  While mere possession of such images can lead to serious penalties, dissemination of these materials can result in even more harsh penalties.

An adult can be charged with child pornography if he or she keeps naked images of an underage person even if he did not entice the minor to send the explicit photos.  The adult in this situation can be charged with a third-degree felony under Florida law, which carries a maximum 5-year term of incarceration in state prison, a $5,000 fine, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.  Since each unlawful image can be charged as a separate offense, possession of five such images could mean a 25-year prison term.  If you are an adult in Florida who chooses to text with a minor, the best practice is to avoid any illicit references and to keep the content of your texts Rated G.

As if the consequences for violating Florida’s child pornography law were not draconian enough, you could also face federal charges.  Under federal law, possession of child pornography with intent to view the explicit image can carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence.  If the federal government charges you with receipt or distribution of child pornography, a conviction can result in a minimum prison sentence of 5 years for possession of the prohibited image and a maximum of 20 years.  A conviction under federal law also entails lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Sex crime charges carry serious consequences that go beyond any formal sentence.  A conviction could result in job loss, academic discipline or expulsion from a college program, residential restrictions, ineligibility for certain occupations (e.g., schoolteacher), and more.  Even if someone accused of a Florida sex crime like sexting prevails with a dismissal of the charges or an acquittal after trial, the negative stereotypes and devastating damage to one’s reputation often lingers from the mere allegation.

If you or your loved one is interested in a free case evaluation, our experienced criminal defense lawyers can explain your right, potential defenses, and answer your questions. Call Musca Law today to learn how we can fight to protect your reputation and freedom when facing these serious charges.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, put our firm's more than 150 years of combined epxerience to work for you.  We offer a through case review and can help you understand your legal options. 

Musca Law

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Orlando, FL 32839

(407) 863-4834