Child Pornography Defense Lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida (FL)
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Florida Child Pornography Offenses, Laws and Penalties
In Florida, sex crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This is true in cases that involve child pornography and any other type of sex-related crimes involving children. The possession of material that may be considered harmful to children is of special focus to the prosecution. Individuals who face these charges must be aware of the severity of these charges and how to mount a successful defense against them.
The consequences of being charged with the possession of child pornography is a serious charge in Florida and may involve extensive prison time and hefty criminal fines. In several cases, offenders must register as a sex offender. In cases where an accused is convicted, he or she may also face extreme social bias.
Unfortunately, there are several instances where an individual is wrongfully accused of these crimes. That is why they should never be taken lightly. If you have been accused of possessing child pornography, it is critical that you contact a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney who is experienced in defending these matters.
It is important for the accused to understand that in Florida, they have the right to remain silent if questioned. They also have the right to refuse consent to have their belongings searched and seized. Working with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Jacksonville will ensure that you are knowledgeable of the applicable law as well as help you to understand your legal rights and what you can do to protect yourself when facing child pornography charges.
Teen Sexting and Child Pornography Charges in Jacksonville, Florida
Children under the age of 18 often face child pornography charges due to the fact that they possess or send images or videos of another person who is their same age. Oftentimes, these images and videos are sent on a cellphone, tablet or computer. As a result, the Florida Legislature recently enacted a statute pertaining to children who are accused of “sexting.” While it is a lesser charge than the possession of child pornography, it is still extremely serious.
Defenses to Sexting Allegations under Florida Law
Defenses to sexting crimes are available if the minor did not request that the picture be sent to their cell phone or other electronic device, and they pursued all necessary measures to report the image to a parent, legal guardian, school official, or a police officer. This defense does not apply if the minor sends or distributes the image or video to another person other than a parent, legal guardian, school official, or a police officer.
The number of charges that can be filed against a minor accused of sexting is limited by the applicable statute. Pursuant to Florida Statute 847.0141(2)(a), the transmission or distribution of images or videos constitutes a single offense if they were transmitted or distributed within a 24-hour time period.
Moreover, under subsection (b) of the statute, the possession of numerous images or videos that were transmitted or distributed by a minor is also treated as a single offense if the images or videos were transmitted or distributed by a minor in the same 24-hour time period.
Additionally, under subsection (b) of the statute, the possession of multiple photographs or videos that were transmitted or distributed by a minor child is a single offense if the photographs or videos were transmitted or distributed by a minor in the same 24-hour period.
Child Pornography Related Charges In Jacksonville, Florida
Under Florida law, a person can face charges pertaining to a number of crimes related to child pornography. Notwithstanding the type of crime that the person is facing, the consequences vary significantly. That is why it is critical that you consult with a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney to better understand the nature of the criminal charges you are facing as well as what defense strategy would be the most effective in light of the facts and circumstances of your case.
Distribution of Child Pornography: An individual can be convicted of child pornography if they produced, directed, disbursed or advertised any images or videos of children engaged in sexual acts. The crime also includes images or videos that depict children under the age of 18 engaged in sexual behavior. In these instances, it has to be established that the person facing child pornography charges knew that the images or videos involved a child and distributed them regardless of the known fact.
Those convicted of distributing child pornography in Florida can face up to 15 years in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender at the time he or she is released from jail.
Exposing a Minor to Pornography: In Florida, a person can face a conviction of exposing a minor to pornography under Florida State Statute 847.013 if they know they are exposing a minor to pornography. This offense includes any form of exposure to a child including showing them a video, presentation, movie, exhibition or image that the individual knew to be pornographic and therefore, harmful to a minor.
This crime can include any act of exposing a minor to a video, movie, presentation, exhibition, or image that a person knew to be pornographic in nature, and therefore, would be harmful to the child. This offense may include renting or selling movies, videos, or images of child pornography.
A person who is convicted of exposing a child to pornographic material can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. They may also face a 1-year prison sentence and be required to pay up to $1,000 in monetary fines. Recidivists, meaning those who are repeat offenders, should expect to face harsher prison sentences and heftier fines
Manufacturing of Child Pornography: An individual faces charges of manufacturing child pornography if they solicit, direct, or produce pornographic images, live acts, or videos depicting minors.
Anyone who is charged with this offense may face a maximum prison sentence of up to 15 years in jail and will be required to be placed on the sex offender registry. In addition, those who are convicted of this crime are restricted as to where they can work, live and if they are able to be in the company of children.
Possession of Child Pornography: A person may face child pornography possession charges if they possess or download any content that depicts a minor engaging in any form of sexual conduct, which is defined under Florida Statute 847.001(16).
Those convicted of this offense can be sent to prison for a maximum of 5 years and may also face federal charges as well. Those who share with others pornography involving children could face 15 years in prison as well as many other negative consequences.
Transmission of Child Pornography: An individual can be convicted of transmitting child pornography if they send or cause to be delivered any images, information or data from other person or place to another through the use of a device, electronic equipment and the internet. Each image, video or document constitutes one single charge. Those facing charges of the transmission of child pornography may face third-degree felony charges, a maximum 5 years in jail, up to $5,000 in monetary fines, and may also be placed on the sex offender registry.
Charges For Child Pornography May Include Other Crimes
In some instances, those who are charged with child pornography offenses may also face additional charges as well. These depend upon the facts and circumstances surrounding the initial charges against a defendant. In general, those who are charged with child pornography often face additional charges such as:
- Rape or statutory rape of a child
- Lewd behavior with a minor child
- Folding of a minor
- Sexual battery of a minor
- Other acts with a minor
Anyone who engages in sexual behavior towards a child who is under the age of 18 is considered to have committed a sexual-related offense in Florida. In a legal sense, children are not able to consent to sexual acts. Those facing these charges should consult with a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney who will help you to develop a strong defense against your charges in order to launch the strongest possible case.
The Severe Penalties Those Convicted Of Child Pornography Face
Those who distribute child pornography through the mail or over the internet can face both state and federal charges. Specifically, individuals who are convicted of child pornography on the state level face the following consequences:
- A prison sentence between 5 and 30 years.
- A life prison sentence for recidivists.
- Registration as a sex offender on the National Sex Offender Registry as well as on Florida’s sex offender registry.
- Trouble finding gainful employment. Many employers do not hire individuals who have been convicted of child pornography-related offenses.
- Restricted access to children. Those who have been convicted of child pornography may not have access to children or being around them, including their own.
The State of Florida, as well as the federal government, have a zero tolerance for those who have committed sex-related crimes against minors. Even one video or image of child pornography may result in criminal charges. Under federal law, sentencing may be enhanced if the child depicted in the image or video is under the age of 12 or if they are masochistic or sadistic in nature. These charges are extremely serious and require the assistance of an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney who can mount the strongest defense on your behalf.
Steeper Fines And Penalties
In some instances, individuals accused of child pornography-related offenses can face stricter penalties above and beyond the mandatory minimums allowable under Florida law. These include circumstances where the accused possesses over 4 videos or images of a child engaged in sexual acts. Moreover, those accused can also face aggravated possession of child pornography charges if the following criteria are present:
- Sexual battery involving a child.
- A child who is under the age of 5.
- Any video of a child engaged in sexual acts.
- Sexual bestiality involving a child.
- Sadomasochistic abuse of a child.
Those convicted of this offense will receive a Level 6 assignment, which means that the judge can sentence the individual to sex offender probation.
Definition of Child Pornography under Florida Law
Florida Statute 847.001(3) defines the term “child pornography” to mean any image including an image on a website or downloaded from the internet depicting a minor child under the age of 18 years old 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;
- Sexual bestiality;
- Simulated sexual intercourse;
- actual physical contact with a person’s unclothed or clothed genitals, buttocks, pubic area, or, if such person is a female, breast with the intent to gratify or arouse the sexual desire of either party; or
- any act or conduct which constitutes sexual battery or simulates that sexual battery is being or will be committed.
Third Degree Felony for Possession of Child Pornography
Third-degree felonies for child pornography under Florida Statutes 847.0135, 847.0138 and 827.071 includes manufacturing, distributing, transmitting and possessing child pornography. A person facing a third-degree felony may be imprisoned for a maximum of 5 years in prison. This crime includes an accusation that the accused downloaded or viewed any image that is child-pornographic in nature.
For those who share a child pornographic image with another individual may face a second-degree felony conviction, which is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Producing or promoting an image that is child-pornographic in nature is punishable by a maximum of 30 years in a Florida State Prison for each charge. This constitutes a first-degree felony. The minimum prison sentence for this charge is 5 to 13 years in prison.
Separate Images Result in Separate Charges and Increased Penalties
Each pornographic image can be charged as a separate criminal offense. The amount of criminal offenses or charges will increase the number of penalties imposed upon those who are convicted.
When images are downloaded off the internet, it is possible to obtain hundreds, if not thousands, or images at one time. This decreases the chances that the amount of images a need for a harsher punishment.
Computer Pornography in Florida
According to the statute of limitations for computer pornography-related crimes in Florida, it is 3 years from when the crime was charged pursuant to Florida Statute Section 847.135(2). This charge of computer pornography is a third-degree felony under Florida law. The crime of computer pornography requires proof that:
- (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
Florida law prohibits possession of photographic materials that include sexual conduct by a child. These laws are as follows:
- 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.
Following a conviction for any of the above offenses when the judge orders probation, the convicted person will be sentenced to “Sex Offender Probation.” This means that the court imposes specific special conditions pursuant to Florida Statute Section 948.03(5)(b). Other standard and special conditions may also apply.
Sex Offender Probation is specifically designed to protect the public and require the offender to obtain treatment and/or counseling. The offender must also provide two specimens of blood to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement so that the person’s DNA is included in the data bank.
Child Pornography under Federal Laws
The offenses related to child pornography may be prosecuted under both federal and state law. Under 18 U.S.C. Section 2256(1) and (8), it defines child pornography as the visual depiction of a child under the age of 18 years old engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Illegal contrabands in this regard include any image of a child engaged in any type of conduct that is considered “sexually explicit.”
The term “sexually explicit” does not require that an image depict a child engaged in sexual behavior. It can also apply to an image of a child who is naked, which can be sufficient to establish that it is sexually suggestive. The visual depiction may include the following:
- Images or videos downloaded from a website or the internet;
- Undeveloped videotape or film;
- Data stored electronically which can be converted into a visual image; or
- Images stored on a computer disk or other electronic forum.
Under federal child pornography-related laws, it is illegal to produce, receive, possess or distribute any form of child pornography that affects interstate or foreign commerce. The jurisdiction of the federal government applies when the visual image is transmitted across state lines or when the image was developed by materials or equipment that were moved across state lines, including the following:
- 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 charges related to child pornography can be satisfied when the images are transmitted electronically via a computer connection online, via email, or the mail. In most cases, the nature of electronic communications invoke federal jurisdiction.
Defenses Against Child Pornography
Those who face a wrongful accusation of child pornography may pursue a multitude of legal defenses to establish that they were not engaged in such activities. The most common defenses that apply in child pornography cases include the following:
- Adult depiction. This defense can be raised if the images in question depict individuals who are aged 18 or older, even if they look younger.
- Child erotica. There are some specific ways in which to distinguish content from child erotica. Child erotica pertains to images or other material that show young children as sexual objects or in sexual suggestive positions but is not considered sufficiently lascivious to meet the statutory definition of sexually explicit content as defined under Florida law. This defense is available when content depicts child erotica and not pornography.
- Transitory possession. In order for an individual to face possession of child pornography charges, he or she must have knowingly possessed or intentionally viewed child pornographic-related content. In some instances, individuals are unwittingly sent images depicting child pornography. When this occurs, individuals usually delete the content once they realize that it is child-pornographic in nature. In these cases, the individual who receives the content unintentionally can raise the defense of transitory possession.
- Illegal search and seizure. Those have possess child pornography usually obtain it through electronic devices. Legal authorities often come upon child-pornographic material through searching and seizing an accused’s mobile devices, computers, or other property. Law enforcement, in these instances, is required to have a warrant before they are able to engage in the search and seizure of the devices. If the police do not obtain a valid warrant in this regard, the accused may be able to challenge the legality of the search and seizure in its entirety.
- Unknowing possession. In some circumstances, individuals may have unknowingly obtained child pornography. These situations occur when an individual’s computer is infected with a virus or even hacked where child pornography is installed on their computer.
- Good faith destruction or reporting. There are some instances where an accused can defend himself or herself against federal child pornography charges. These cases typically require an individual to make a good faith efforts to remove the child pornography on their electronic devices or report them to the police. This defense is only available if the individual has 3 images or less in their possession.
- Substantial assistance. Those accused of a child pornography-related offense can assert this defense where they provide enough information to identify, take into custody, or convict another individual who may be involved in a child pornography-related case.
Anyone who is facing child pornography charges must immediately contact a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney to launch the strongest defense possible on their behalf.
Florida Child Pornography Attorney
Those convicted of engaging in a child pornography-related offense in Florida can face extensive consequences, including prison time and hefty monetary penalties following a state or federal conviction. Those who are facing child pornography charges face potential legal repercussions and a whole host of additional negative consequences. As such, those who are charged with these crimes would greatly benefit by containing an experienced Florida child pornography defense attorney to safeguard their legal rights and interests.
There are many times when individuals who are innocent get wrongfully accused of the possession of child pornography. For example, you may have come upon a website that had malware installed, or someone else used your computer who downloaded pornography and viewed it. In these instances, it is critical that you hire an experienced attorney to immediately work on your case and launch the strongest defense possible on your behalf.
With more than 150 years of combined legal experience, the Jacksonville lawyers at Musca Law have successfully represented numerous individuals who were faced with child pornography-related offenses. Don’t wait, contact Musca Law at the contact information below.
Working with our knowledgeable Jacksonville child pornography defense attorneys will ensure you stand a chance at achieving a favorable outcome for 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 legal rights.