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Child Pornography Defense Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FL)

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Florida Child Pornography Laws, Charges, and Potential Punishments

Crimes associated with child pornography are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law in the state of Florida. A crime related to child pornography includes a child who is under the age of 18. These offenses are considered harmful to children, which is why they are heavily criminalized in Florida. Anyone who is facing child pornography-related charges should immediately contact a seasoned Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney who can advise them of their legal rights and the defenses that may be available in their case.

There are many consequences of being convicted of a child pornography-related offense which include, without limitation, prison time, hefty monetary fines and a lifetime of social bias. This is why if you are facing charges in this regard, you should never take them lightly. 

It is important for the accused to know that in Florida, they have the right to remain silent if questioned. They also have the constitutional right to have their belongings searched and seized pursuant to a valid warrant. Working with an experienced Fort Lauderdale child pornography defense lawyer will help you to better understand your legal options and the steps necessary to launch a strong defense on your behalf.

Teen Sexting and Child Pornography Charges in Florida

Children under the age of 18 can be charged with a child pornography-related crime if they possess or send images or videos of another minor who is the same age or younger. Most often, these images or videos are sent via cellphone, tablet, computer or some other type of electronic device. Recently, the Florida Legislature enacted a law that pertains to children who are facing “sexting” charges. This is a lesser charge than the possession of child pornography, however, the penalties and consequences associated therewith are still very serious. If facing these charges, the accused must seek the assistance of a skilled Florida child pornography defense lawyer to launch the strongest defense possible. 

Defenses to Sexting Allegations under Florida Law

There are a number of defenses to the crime of sexting if the minor did not request for the videos or images to be sent to them on their cell phone or other electronic device. They must also report the receipt of a video or image of child pornography to a parent, legal guardian, school official or a member of law enforcement. This defense does not apply if the minor distributes or sends the image or video to another individual other than a parent, legal guardian, school official, or a member of law enforcement.

The number of charges that an accused can face in this regard is limited under Florida law. Pursuant to Florida Statute 847.0141(2)(a), the transmission of images or videos constitutes one offense if they were transmitted or distributed within a 24-hour timeframe. 

Moreover, under subsection (b) of the law, the possession of multiple videos or images that were distributed or transmitted to a minor also constitutes a single offense if they were distributed or transmitted in the same 24-hour time period. 

Child Pornography Related Charges In Florida

Florida law dictates that an individual can be charged with a multitude of crimes that pertain to child pornography, all of which are described below. Regardless of the crime of which you are accused, all have serious consequences, including jail time, monetary fines, social stigma, as well as difficulty in finding gainful employment and housing. An accused may also be prohibited from being in the presence of children, including their own. 

That is why it is crucial that you contact a knowledgeable and experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer who can explain the charges you are facing and develop a strong defense on your behalf.

Distribution of Child Pornography: An individual can be charged with a child pornography-related offense if they direct, advertise, produce or disburse any images or videos of children engaged in sexual conduct. The offense also includes images or videos that depict children engaged in sexual acts In these instances, it must be proven that the accused offender knew that the images or videos included a minor and distributed them anyway. 

In Florida, those who face a conviction of distributing child pornography may be imprisoned for up to 15 years and be required to register on the National Sex Offender Registry.

Exposing a Minor to Pornography: Florida law dictates that a person can be convicted of exposing a child to pornographic material under Florida State Statute 847.013 if they did so with knowledge. An exposing a minor to pornography charge includes knowingly showing a minor a picture, exhibition, movie, image or video that is pornographic in nature.

Essentially, this offense can include any activity that exposes a minor to a video, presentation, image, movie, or exhibition that the accused knows is pornographic. The crime also includes renting or selling movies, videos or images depicting children engaged in sexual acts.

A person who is convicted of the exposure of a minor to pornography is charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. They may also be sent to prison for a maximum of one year and be forced to pay up to $1,000 in monetary fines. Repeat offenders may face additional jail time and higher monetary penalties.

Manufacturing of Child Pornography: A person is guilty of manufacturing child pornography if they direct, solicit, or produce pornographic videos, live acts, or images of children engaged in sexual acts.

Those who are convicted of manufacturing child pornography may be imprisoned for up to 15 years and be required to register on the National Sex Offender Registry. These individuals may also face certain restrictions as to where they can work and live. They may also be prohibited from being in the presence of children, including their own.

Possession of Child Pornography: An individual may face charges of the possession of child pornography if they possess or download content that depicts a child who is engaged in sexual conduct, as defined by Florida Statute 847.001(16).

The maximum penalty associated with this charge is imprisonment for 5 years. The individual can also face similar federal charges in addition to the state charges. Those who share child pornography with others can face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. He or she may also face a multitude of additional consequences such as social stigma, and restrictions as to where he or she can live and work.  He or she may also be prohibited from being in the presence of children, including their own. 

Transmission of Child Pornography: A person can be convicted of transmitting child pornography if he or she knowingly sends information, data, images, or any other form of content to another individual through the use of electronic equipment, electronic devices, or via the internet. 

Each document, image or video constitutes one offense. Those facing charges of transmitting child pornography may be convicted of a third-degree felony which carries with it a penalty of up to 5 years in jail and a maximum monetary penalty of $5,000. The accused may also be required to register themselves on the National Sex Offender Registry.

Charges For Child Pornography May Include Other Crimes

In certain instances, a person who is charged with a child pornography-related crime may be charged with additional offenses as well. These depend upon the facts and circumstances of his or her case. In general, an individual facing child pornography charges may also be charged with:

  • Lewd behavior with a minor child;
  • Folding of a minor;
  • Sexual battery of a minor; 
  • Rape or statutory rape of a minor; or
  • Other acts with a minor.

An individual who engages in sexual conduct with a minor will likely be found guilty of committing a sex-related criminal offense in Florida. In a legal sense, children are deemed incapable of consenting to sexual activities. That is why it is important that you contact a seasoned Fort Lauderdale child pornography defense attorney as soon as possible to help safeguard your legal rights and interests.

The Severe Penalties Those Convicted Of Child Pornography Face

When a person distributes child pornography over the web or through the mail can be charged with state and federal charges. Specifically, those who are convicted of engaging in child pornography-related crimes at the state level face the following penalties and consequences:

  • A prison sentence of 5 to 30 years in jail.
  • A life sentence for those who are repeat offenders.
  • A registration on Florida’s sex offender registry and well as on the National Sex Offender Registry. 
  • Challenges in finding employment or housing.
  • Restrictions associated with accessing children, including their own.

Under Florida and federal law, there is zero tolerance for the commission of child pornography-related actions against children. Even one video or image associated with child pornography can carry with it severe criminal charges. 

Under federal law, there may be increased sentencing if the child depicted in the image or video is under the age of 12 or if the image or video is masochistic or sadistic in nature. 

Steeper Fines And Penalties

In certain cases, those who are facing child pornography-related offenses can be subject to harsher penalties that are above and beyond those allowable under Florida law. These include instances where an individual has over 4 videos or images in their possession of a child engaged in sexual acts. Additionally, an accused can also face charges of aggravated possession of child pornography if the following are present:

  • Sexual battery of a child.
  • A child under the age of 5.
  • Sexual bestiality involving a child.
  • A video of a minor engaged in sexual behavior.
  • Sadomasochistic abuse of a child.

Definition of Child Pornography under Florida Law

Under Florida Statute 847.001(3) it defines “child pornography” as any image, including an image on a website or downloaded from the internet, depicting a child under the age of 18 engaged in sexual conduct.

Under Florida Statute 847.001(16), the term “sexual conduct” means:

  • Actual lewd exhibition of the genitals;
  • Actual sexual intercourse;
  • Deviant sexual intercourse;
  • Masturbation;
  • Sexual bestiality; 
  • Simulated sexual intercourse;
  • Touching or physical contact with the person’s unclothed or clothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if the child is a female, chest/breast with the intention to cause gratification or create an arousal of the sexual desire of either individual; or
  • To perform an act or conduct that simulates sexual battery or constitutes sexual battery is being committed or will be committed.

Third Degree Felony for Possession of Child Pornography

It is a third felony under Florida Statutes 847.0135, 847.0138 and 827.071 if a person manufactures, transmits, distributes, and possesses child pornography-related material. A person convicted of this offense may face up to 5 years in prison. This crime includes an accusation that the offender downloaded or viewed any content that qualifies as child pornography. 

Those who share child-pornographic images with others may face a second-degree felony conviction, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Producing or promoting an image of child pornography is punishable by a maximum of 30 years in prison for each charge.  This charge constitutes a first-degree felony.

Separate Images Result in Separate Charges and Increased Penalties

Each image that is child-pornographic in nature and involves minors can be charged as a separate crime. The higher the number of criminal offenses in this regard, the greater the amount of penalties and consequences imposed on the offender.

Computer Pornography in Florida

In the state of Florida, the statute of limitations for computer-related pornography is 3 years from the time that the crime was charged under Florida Statute Section 847.135(2).  This charge of computer pornography qualifies as a third-degree felony under Florida law. The crime of computer pornography requires proof of the following:

  •  (2)(a) a person knowingly compiles, enters into, or transmits by use of computer;
  • (2)(b) makes, prints, publishes, or reproduces by other computerized means;
  • (2)(c) knowingly causes or allows to be entered into or transmitted by use of computer;
  • (2)(d) or buys, sells, receives, exchanges, or disseminates any notice, statement, or advertisement of any minor’s name, telephone number, place of residence, physical characteristics, or other descriptive or identifying information for purposes of facilitating, encouraging, offering, or soliciting sexual conduct of or with any minor, or the visual depiction of such conduct.

Possession of Photographic Material

In Florida, the law prohibits individuals from obtaining materials that depict a child engaged in sexual behavior. The laws that apply are:

  • Section 827.071(4) is a Level 5 offense that makes it a second-degree felony to possess with intent to promote any photographic material, motion picture, etc., which includes sexual conduct by a child.
  • Section 827.071(5) is a Level 6 offense that makes it a third-degree felony to possess any photographic material, motion picture, etc., which includes sexual conduct by a child.
  • Section 827.071(2) & (3) is a Level 6 offense that makes it a second-degree felony to use or induce a child in a sexual performance or promote or direct such performance.

If a person is convicted under any of the above-referenced offenses, a judge may require the offender to be sentenced to “Sex Offender Probation.” This means that the court imposes certain requirements on the offender pursuant to Florida Statute Section 948.03(5)(b). Other conditions may also apply, which depend upon the details of each case.

This form of probation is intended to protect the community and require the offender to obtain treatment and/or counseling. The offender must also provide a blood sample to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement so that it can obtain the person’s DNA to be included in the data bank.

Child Pornography under Federal Laws

Federal law may apply to a child pornography case. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 2256(1) and (8), child pornography is defined as the visual depiction of a child under the age of 18 who is engaged in sexually explicit behavior. 

The term “sexually explicit” does not require that the child in the depiction be engaged in sexual behavior. It is enough for the image to show a child who is unclothed. 

The visual depiction may include the following:

  • Photographs;
  • Videos;
  • Videotapes:
  • Images downloaded from the internet or a website;
  • Undeveloped videotape or film;
  • Images stored on a computer disk or other electronic forum; or 
  • Data stored electronically that can be converted into a visual image.

Under federal child pornography laws, a person is prohibited from receiving, producing, possessing, or distributing any type of child pornography that affects foreign or interstate commerce. This means that it is a federal offense when a visual child-pornographic image is sent across state lines or equipment is moved across state lines that created the image. The federal laws that apply in this regard are as follows:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 2251- Sexual Exploitation of Children (Production of child pornography);
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2252- Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors (Possession, distribution, and receipt of child pornography);
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2252A- certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography; and
  • 18 U.S.C. § 2260- Production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the United States.

The jurisdictional element in federal child pornography charges can be satisfied when the visual images are sent electronically or by regular mail. In most cases, the method of communication invokes federal jurisdiction.

Defenses Against Child Pornography

For those who face child pornography charges, they may raise a number of defenses, which are as follows:

  • Adult depiction. This defense can be raised if the individuals depicted in the pornographic material are aged 18 or older. It does not matter if they look younger than their age.
  • Child erotica. This defense applies if a person possesses material that is not lascivious in nature sufficient to qualify as explicit content under Florida law.
  • Transitory possession. In some instances, a person, without the requisite knowledge, receives images depicting children engaged in sexual acts. In these set of circumstances, the individuals typically delete the images with the understanding that they are child-pornographic in nature. If a person receives child pornographic content unintentionally, they can raise this transitory possession defense.
  • Illegal search and seizure. In general, police must obtain a valid before searching and seizing pornographic material, whether or not they are in electronic format. If police fail to obtain a warrant, an accused can challenge the legality of the search and seizure.
  • Unknowing possession. In some instances, an individual may obtain child pornography unknowingly if their computer becomes infected by a virus or is hacked. In this case, a person can raise the defense of unknowing possession.
  • Good faith destruction or reporting. An accused can raise the defense of good faith destruction or reporting if they made all necessary attempts to remove the content from their computer or reported it to law enforcement. This defense is only available to individuals who have 3 images or less in their possession.
  • Substantial assistance. An individual can raise this defense if they provide law enforcement with enough information to identify, arrest or convict a person who perpetrates a child pornography crime.

Florida Child Pornography Attorney

If you are facing child pornography-related offenses in Fort Lauderdale, you must contact a seasoned child pornography defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale to preserve your legal rights and interests. With more than 150 years of combined legal experience, the lawyers at Musca Law have represented countless individuals facing child pornography-related offenses in Florida. Don’t wait to speak with a Fort Lauderdale defense attorney, as your life and freedom depend upon it.

Working with our highly skilled and experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys will ensure that you stand a significant chance of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case. Contact our law firm today at (888) 484-5057 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation to see how we can help you defend yourself and your rights.

 

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