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Child Pornography Defense Lawyer in Lakeland, Florida

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Florida Child Pornography Charges, Laws and Punishments 

Sex-related crimes are heavily prosecuted in Florida. This is the case when a person is accused of possessing child pornography or any other type of sex-related offense involving children who are under the age of 18. These offenses are criminalized in Florida due to the fact that they are considered harmful to children. Those who face these serious charges should know that they are serious and as such, they should consult with a seasoned Lakeland criminal defense lawyer to develop a strong defense against them.

The consequences associated with a charge of the possession of child pornography carries with it the potential for an extended prison time and severe monetary fines. When an accused is convicted, he or she may face a lifetime of social bias. That is why if you are facing child pornography charges, you should contact an experienced Lakeland defense attorney.  Sadly, some people who are charged with child pornography-related crimes are innocent due to being falsely accused. As such, if you have been charged with these crimes, you should immediately contact a Florida child pornography defense lawyer to vigorously defend you.

It is important for the accused to understand that in Florida, they have the right to remain silent if interrogated. They also have the right to reject having their belongings searched and seized by police. Working with a seasoned child pornography lawyer in Lakeland will ensure that you are aware of your legal rights and what steps are necessary to defend you against these serious crimes.

Teen Sexting and Child Pornography Charges in Florida

Minors may face child pornography charges if they have in their possession or send videos or images of another child who is their same age or younger. Oftentimes, these videos and images are transmitted via cellphone, computer, tablet, or some other electronic device. As a result, the Florida Legislature recently created a statute that pertains to children who are facing “sexting” charges. This is a lesser charge than the possession of child pornography, however, it is still serious and requires the assistance of a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney.

Defenses to Sexting Allegations under Florida Law

There are defenses to the crime of sexting if the child who is under the age of 18 did not ask for those images or videos to be sent to their cell phone or other electronic device. They must also report the incident to a parent, legal guardian, school official, or a member of law enforcement. This defense is inapplicable if the child distributes or sends the video or image other than to a parent, legal guardian, school official, or a member of law enforcement.

The amount of charges that can be filed against a child accused of sexting is limited by Florida law. Under Florida Statute 847.0141(2)(a), the distribution or transmission of videos or images is charged as a single offense if they were distributed or transmitted within a 24-hour time period.

Additionally, 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

In Florida, an individual can be charged with a number of crimes related to child pornography, all of which are provided below. Regardless of the specific crime, all are associated with serious consequences. This is why it is important that you consult with an experienced Florida child pornography defense lawyer to better understand the charges you are facing as well as the defenses available in your case.

Distribution of Child Pornography: A person can face child pornography charges if they directed, advertised, produced or disbursed any videos or images of minors engaged in sexual acts. The crime also includes videos or images that show minors engaged in sexual behavior. In these cases, it must be established that the accused knew that the videos or images involved a minor and nonetheless, distributed them. 

Those facing a conviction of distributing child pornography in Florida can be imprisoned for up to 15 years and be required to register on the National Sex Offender Registry at the time he or she is released from jail.

Exposing a Minor to Pornography: Under Florida law, an individual can be convicted of exposing a child to pornography pursuant to Florida State Statute 847.013 if they knowingly did so. This crime includes any type of exposure such as showing the child a video, picture, presentation, exhibition, movie or image that is child pornographic in nature. The individual will face a conviction of exposing a minor to pornography if it was done knowingly and intentionally.

In essence, this crime can include any action of exposing a minor to a movie, video, presentation, image or exhibition that the offender knows to be pornographic, and therefore, harmful to a minor. This crime may include selling or renting movies, images or videos depicting child pornography.

An individual who is convicted of exposing a minor to pornographic content faces a first-degree misdemeanor charge. They may also be sent to prison for up to 1 year and be required to pay a maximum of $1,000 in monetary penalties. Those who are repeat offenders face an increased amount of time in jail as well as monetary fines.

Manufacturing of Child Pornography: Anyone who directs, solicits or produces pornographic images, videos or live acts showing minors engaged in sexual activity will face a charge of manufacturing child pornography.

Those convicted of this charge faces a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years in prison and will be required to be placed on the National Sex Offender Registry. Additionally, those convicted of manufacturing child pornography may face restrictions as to where they can live and work. They may also be restricted from being in the company of children, including their own, if applicable.  

Possession of Child Pornography: An individual may be charged with the possession of child pornography if they download or possess content that shows a child engaging in sexual conduct that is defined under Florida Statute 847.001(16).

Anyone who is convicted of this crime can be imprisoned for a maximum of five years as well as face similar federal charges. Those who share child pornography with others could be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison. He or she may also face a litany of other consequences as well, including restrictions as to where he or she may live and work. He or she may also face social stigma as a result of his or her conviction.

Transmission of Child Pornography: Anyone can face a conviction of transmitting child pornography if he or she sends or causes to be delivered any information, data or image from one person to another through the use of an electronic device, electronic equipment, or via the internet. Each video, document or image qualifies as one single offense. Those facing charges of transmitting child pornography may face third-degree felony charges which carry with it a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a maximum of $5,000 in monetary fines. The offender will also be required to be placed on the National Sex Offender Registry.

Charges For Child Pornography May Include Other Crimes

Under certain circumstances, an individual who is charged with a child pornography-related offense may face additional charges as well. These depend upon the details of his or her case. Generally, those facing child pornography charges may also be charged with the following:

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

A person who engages in sexual activities with a child under the age of 18 is deemed to have committed a sexual-related crime in Florida. Legally, children are considered to be unable to consent to sexual behavior. Those facing these charges must immediately contact an experienced and knowledgeable Lakeland child pornography defense attorney who can help them to develop the strongest defense possible in his or her case.

The Severe Penalties Those Convicted Of Child Pornography Face

For those who distribute child pornography over the internet or through the mail can face both state and federal charges. In essence, individuals who are convicted of engaging in a child pornography-related offense on the state level are faced with the following consequences:

  • A sentence of 5 to 30 years in jail.
  • A life sentence for repeat offenders.
  • Registration of Florida’s sex offender registry as well as on the National Sex Offender Registry.
  • Difficulty finding gainful employment. Many employers refuse to hire an individual who has been convicted of a child pornography-related crime.
  • Restriction of access to children. Those who have been convicted of a child pornography-related offense may be restricted from having access to children, including their own.

Florida, as well as the federal government, have a zero tolerance for the commission of child pornography-based actions against minors. Even one image or video of child pornography can result in serious criminal charges. Under federal law, there may be enhanced sentencing if the child included in the video or image is under the age of 12 or if the video or image is sadistic or masochistic in nature. These charges are very serious, which is why it is critical to work with a seasoned Florida criminal defense lawyer who can develop the strongest defense in your case.

Steeper Fines And Penalties

In certain circumstances, those accused of child pornography-related crimes can face harsher penalties that are above those allowable under Florida law. These include instances where a person has over 4 images or videos of a minor engaged in sexual behavior. Additionally, an accused can also face charges of aggravated possession of child pornography if the following are present:

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

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, showing 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.

Felony Possession of Child Pornography in the Third Degree 

Third-degree felonies for child pornography under Florida Statutes 847.0135, 847.0138 and 827.071 include manufacturing, transmitting, distributing and possessing child pornography. A person who faces a third-degree felony charge in this regard may face up to 5 years in jail. This crime includes the accusation that the offender viewed or downloaded any image that constitutes child pornography.

Those who share these images with others face a second-degree felony conviction. This is punishable by up to 15 years in jail. 

Producing or promoting a child-pornographic image is punishable by up to 30 years in jail for each charge. This is punishable as a first-degree felony. 

Separate Images Could Result in Separate Charges Filed and Increased Penalties

Every image that is pornographic in nature and involves children can be charged as a separate crime. The number of criminal offenses will increase the amount of penalties imposed on the offender.  

Computer Pornography in Florida

In Florida, the statute of limitations for most computer pornography-related criminal offenses is 3 years from the time that the crime was charged according to Florida Statute Section 847.135(2). This charge of computer pornography qualifies as a third-degree felony under Florida law.  

The criminal offense of computer pornography in the state of Florida requires evidence 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.”

Unlawful Possession of Photographic Material Criminal Charges in Florida

Under Florida law, it prohibits individuals from possessing materials that depict a child engaged in sexual conduct. The laws that apply are:

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

Following a conviction for any of the above offenses, a judge may order that the offender be placed on “Sex Offender Probation.” This means that the court imposes certain special conditions on the offender under Florida Statute Section 948.03(5)(b). Other conditions may also apply which depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case.

This type of probation is intended to protect the public and require the offender to seek counseling and treatment. The offender must also provide blood samples to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement so that the state has the person’s DNA in the data bank.

Child Pornography under Federal Laws

Child pornography offenses can be prosecuted under both state and federal law. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 2256(1) and (8), child pornography is defined as the visual depiction of a minor under the age of 18 who is engaged in sexually explicit behavior. Illegal contrabands in this regard include any depiction of a child who is engaged in behavior that is deemed “sexually explicit.”

The term “sexually explicit” does not require that the child in the depiction be engaged in sexual conduct. It is enough for the image to show a child who is naked, which is sufficient to demonstrate that the content is sexually explicit.  

The visual depiction may include the following:

  • Photographs;
  • Videos;
  • Videotapes;
  • Images downloaded from the internet or a website;
  • Undeveloped film or video tape;
  • Images stored on a computer disk or other electronic forum; or 
  • Electronically stored data that may be recreated or converted into a visual image.

Pursuant to federal child pornography laws, it is illegal to receive, produce, possess, or distribute any form of child pornography that has an effect on foreign or interstate commerce. This means that federal law, in addition to state law, applies when a visual child-pornographic image is distributed across state borders or when an image is created by computers, equipment or any materials that were moved across state lines, which includes 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.

Federal child pornography charges could be satisfied, according to the jurisdictional element, 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

Those facing a wrongful accusation of child pornography may raise a number of legal defenses to demonstrate that they are not guilty of such activities. The most popular defenses applicable in child pornography cases are as follows:

  • Adult depiction. This defense is possible if the individuals in the depiction are 18-years-old or older. It doesn’t matter if the individuals in the image look young. Their age is what matters. 
  • Child erotica. Child erotica pertains to material such as images that demonstrate young children as sexual objects or in positions that are sexually suggestive. However, the images are not sufficiently lascivious to meet the statutory definition of sexually explicit content as prohibited under Florida law. 
  • Transitory possession. In some cases, a person unknowingly receives images depicting child pornography. In these instances, individuals typically delete these images, recognizing that they are child-pornographic in nature. If a person receives such images unintentionally, they may raise the transitory possession defense.
  • Illegal search and seizure. Police must generally obtain a warrant before searching and seizing child pornographic material, whether they are in electronic format or not. If police do not obtain a valid warrant in this regard, the accused may be able to challenge the legality of the search and seizure by raising this defense.
  • Unknowing possession. In some cases, a person may unknowingly obtain child pornography if their computer is hacked or if a virus infects their computer. In this instance, 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 attempted to remove the pornographic content off of their computer or reported the content to police. This defense is only available to those who have 3 images or less in their custody.
  • Substantial assistance. For those who are accused of a child pornography-related charge, they can raise this defense if they provide sufficient information to identify, take into custody, or convict another person who may be involved in child pornography-related activities. 

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. Don’t wait to contact an attorney, as your livelihood and freedom depend upon it.

Florida Child Pornography Attorney

In Florida, anyone who is convicted of a child pornography-related offense can be faced with several future challenges and consequences, including imprisonment and steep monetary penalties following a state or federal conviction. That is why it is vital that an accused seek the counsel of a seasoned Lakeland criminal law attorney to help them learn more about their legal rights and the defenses available in his or her case.  

Unfortunately, there are times when an innocent individual is wrongfully accused of a child pornography-related offense. In this case, it is essential that you experienced attorney to immediately work on your case and launch the strongest defense possible on your behalf.

With over 150 years of combined legal experience, the attorneys at Musca Law have represented numerous individuals who were faced with child pornography-related crimes in Lakeland, Florida. Don’t wait to contact an attorney, as your life and freedom depend upon it.

Working with our knowledgeable Lakeland criminal defense attorneys will ensure 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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