Is Sexting Against the Law in Florida?
Florida Statute Section § 847.0141 Sexting; Prohibited Acts; Penalties.
Sexting is sharing sexually explicit or nude photographs or videos with other people using cellphones or other communication devices. Sexting may also include sexual conversations, chats, or text messages. Those who engage in consensual sexting and are 18 years of age or older are not typically committing a crime. However, those who send sexually explicit or nude photographs or videos to individuals under the age of 18 could face a felony criminal charge with penalties including lifetime registration on Florida's Sexual Offender and Predator System, lifetime Federal Sex Offender Registry, years in prison, hefty fines, and additional potential consequences.
States have adopted diverse laws to address the legal issues concerning teens sexting. A few states have passed laws that prohibit any sexting between minors and carry penalties that are not as harsh as the punishments that adults face when sexting with minors. Other states make no distinction and charge offenders under current child pornography and child enticement laws, which are punished with prison, fines, and mandated sex offender registration.
Florida was one of the first states to address the legal issues concerning sexting and teen sexting. Florida's Sexting Statute 847.0141 - Sexting Laws permit criminal prosecutors to charge minors in a way that avoids the minor from facing felony criminal charges and mandatory, lifetime sex offender registration. Florida law does not outlaw sexting between consenting adults, but sexting can lead to serious criminal charges in Florida if one of the parties is underage.
If you or a family member have been charged with sexting a minor, enticing a minor, or child pornography in Florida, contact our best Florida Sexting Defense Lawyers as quickly as possible. Musca Law's attorneys have the experience and expertise necessary for defending clients against all types of sex crime cases. Our defense attorneys investigate the underlying facts, evidence and aggressively attack the State Prosecutor's case. For example, our attorneys might endeavor to have the videos or images excluded as evidence against our client in their criminal trial based on the conduct of the police officer in obtaining a search warrant, for illegally conducting a search, or establish that the defendant had no idea they possessed the videos or images.
Anyone who is being questioned or charged by police must remain silent and avoid speaking to the police until they have spoken with a criminal defense attorney from Musca Law. Receive your free, no-obligation case review 24/7 at 1-888-484-5057.
In most sexting cases, those who have been accused or charged with Possession of Child Pornography, Soliciting Child for Unlawful Sexual Conduct Using a Computer or Electronic Device, or Solicitation of a Minor, make a catastrophic error by making admissions to police. For example, the one being questioned might state that they are the only person who uses the phone connected with the sexting incident. This admission helps the detectives and prosecutors build a case against the accused and will be used to establish the accused's intent and knowledge, which is an essential element to gain a criminal conviction against the accused. Our Florida sexting criminal defense attorneys work hard to help our clients avoid making such damaging admissions to law enforcement.
Although Florida law does allow individuals as old as 23 years of age to date a 16-year-old, Florida's sexting laws are complicated. The matter becomes more complicated when prosecuting attorneys charge a teenager with distributing child pornography after sending an explicit video or text to a minor. This complexity originates from the fact that Florida lawmakers did not foresee the extensive use of sexting when lawmakers drafted the Florida child pornography statutes. Florida's Sexting Laws are not designed to address or prosecute one underage individual who sends nude or explicit selfies to their underage lover, but this could occur.
Adults who violate Florida's Sexting Law could be charged with possessing child pornography of persons under the age of 18.
Florida law also creates some complexity in incidents of sexting adolescents due to Florida's age of consent law, child pornography statutes, and Florida's "Romeo and Juliet" law. Although Florida's Romeo and Juliet law permits adults up to a certain age to engage in sexual relations with 16- or 17-year-old partners, Florida's Child Pornography Law does not permit minors to consent to sending and receiving explicit images or videos. However, Florida has updated its state laws to recognize the distinction between an adult man in his forties texting a 16-year-old girl versus a teenage girl who sent explicit selfies to her teenage boyfriend. Florida Statute Section 847.001(3) defines child pornography as a video or image of a minor involved in sexual conduct. The mere possession of before-mentioned images or videos could lead to severe penalties, and disseminating these materials might result in harsher penalties. Although the teenage boyfriend is in possession of illegal child pornography under Florida law, he might be able to avoid the harsh consequences such as lifetime sex offender registration.
An adult is in possession of child pornography when he or she keeps naked images of a minor, even if they did not ask the minor to send explicit photos or videos. In this situation, the offender could be charged with a third-degree felony in the state of Florida. This offense carries a prison sentence of up to 5-years in prison, plus a $5,000 fine and mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender. Also, each unlawful image or video may be charged as a separate criminal offense in the state of Florida. For example, three illegal images could be charges as three separate offenses and could be punished with up to fifteen years in prison.
Violating Florida's child pornography law could also result in federal criminal charges. For example, a charge of "federal possession of child pornography with intent to view the explicit image" is punished with up to 10 years in prison. Suppose the federal government charges an individual with the distribution or receipt of child pornography. In that circumstance, a criminal conviction could result in a minimum prison sentence of five years per image to a maximum of 20 years. Like Florida, a conviction under federal law also requires lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Sex crimes carry substantial consequences that go well beyond a formal sentence. A sex crime conviction could cause job loss, residential restrictions, academic discipline or suspension from a college program, ineligibility for particular occupations (e.g., schoolteacher), and more.
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If you, your friend, or your family member is interested in a free criminal case evaluation, call us 24/7 at 1-888-484-5057 to receive your free, no-obligation case review. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can explain your legal rights, answer your legal questions, and the process. Call Musca Law today to learn how we can fight to protect your reputation and freedom when facing these serious charges.