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Child Pornography Lawyer in Gainesville, Florida (FL)

Child Pornography Laws, Penalties and Defenses in Florida

Musca Law’s Experienced Defense Team at Your Service

If you find yourself facing child pornography charges or are charged with other sex crimes in Gainesville, you are in an extremely perilous situation. Prosecutors pursue convictions relentlessly in these situations. Even being charged with such a crime can result in your arrest, cause you to lose your job, and strain your familial and personal friendships and relationships. You need an experienced Gainesville defense attorney who has the knowledge and resources to build a strong defense.

Any conviction for a sex crime against a minor will lead to years of incarceration and considerable amounts of fines, restitution, and other court fees. In addition, defendants convicted of these types of crimes may be ordered to register as a sexual offender, potentially for the rest of their lives. Convictions for these serious crimes can be supported by little more than the testimony of the alleged victim or victims if the judge or jury finds those people’s accusations to be credible. As a result, these charges should be regarded and treated as a very serious matter.

Even when you are being investigated for or charged with these crimes, you do have rights. Law enforcement officers cannot compel you to speak with them. Nor can they search your home and rummage through your private effects without a warrant. These and other rights can be lost or forfeited if they are not asserted at the appropriate time. 

For these reasons and more, you should speak with a knowledgeable child sex crimes attorney in Gainesville about your situation. Time is of the essence: the longer you wait to seek help, the more difficult it may be to obtain a favorable outcome in your case.

Crimes Related to Child Pornography in Gainesville

People living in Gainesville may be charged with one or more crimes pertaining to child pornography. The potential penalties these people may face will vary widely depending on which specific charge or charges are brought against them. While all crimes related to children and sexual abuse or exploitation are serious, comprehending the specifics of the allegations against you is essential to mounting the most effective defense possible.

Florida Statute § 827.071: Distribution of a Sexual Performance by a Child 

According to Florida Criminal Laws, it is illegal for an adult, over the age of eighteen years, to “employs, authorizes, or induces” a child under the age of eighteen years to engage in a sexual performance. A child’s parent, guardian, or custodian can also be found guilty of this offense if such person allows the child to participate in such a performance. Finally, those who produce, direct, or promote any such performance involving a child under the age of eighteen years are also guilty of violating this statute.

In order to be convicted under this statute, the individual must have known or had reason to know that the child was under eighteen years of age. If the child appears to be an adult and representations are made.

The potential penalties for violating this statute include up to fifteen years in prison. Additionally, people convicted of distribution of a sexual performance by a child will have to register as a sex offender for the remainder of their lives once they have been released from prison.

Florida Statute § 847.013: Exposing a Minor to Pornography

Florida Statute § 847.013 criminalizes the exposure of a minor to pornography. The child need not be exposed to child pornography in order for criminal liability to attach. Sending or playing any pornographic image, film, or presentation to a child is punishable under this law. Renting or selling pornographic movies to children is also criminalized under this statute.

First-time offenders will likely be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor and may face incarceration for up to one year along with a $1,000 fine. If the individual has previous convictions for this offense, the penalties may be more severe.

Other Prohibited Conduct Relating to Child Pornography

In addition, a defendant may be accused of a number of other criminal activities connected with child pornography. These include:

  • Manufacturing child pornography, defined as directing, soliciting, or producing images, videos, or live performances involving children engaged in sexual acts. A person convicted of this crime faces up to 15 years of imprisonment and will need to register as a sex offender.
  • Possessing child pornography: Possessing images, videos, computer files, or any other media that shows a child or children under eighteen years of age engaged in sexual conduct is also a crime. Committing this offense can result in a prison sentence of up to five years.
  • Transmitting child pornography: Transmitting child pornography occurs when a person uses the internet or some other electronic means or device to send or deliver pornographic images or other media involving children. Separate images or files are charged as separate crimes. Transmitting child pornography is a third-degree felony and can result in a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. In addition, a person convicted of this crime will be ordered to register as a sex offender.

Other Related Sexual Offenses in Florida

A child pornography investigation may reveal that the person(s) being investigated have committed other crimes as well. People charged with child pornography charges may also be charged with other related crimes. If convicted of any of the following, the person will almost certainly face additional prison time and fines:

  • Rape or sexual battery of a minor
  • Lewd fondling or touching of a minor
  • Solicitation or contributing to a child’s misconduct

In Florida, children under the age of eighteen years are not able to consent to sexual acts with adults. Therefore, any sexual contact or conduct between an adult and a child will be considered criminal. It is important to work with a qualified criminal defense attorney in Gainesville in order to resolve your criminal charges as successfully as possible. You do not want to spend your time or your resources pursuing defense strategies that have little chance of success.

Juvenile “Sexting” in Gainesville

“Sexting” is a relatively new phenomenon that has become more and more common as the use of smartphones among children has become more prevalent. “Sexting” occurs when one juvenile comes into possession of or distributes “child pornography” – photographs, videos, or recordings of other nude children or children engaged in sexual conduct. Originally this conduct was treated under the law the same way as if an adult had possessed or transmitted child pornography.

Florida has since passed a special statute that applies when juveniles are found in possession of or found to be transmitting child pornography. Nonetheless, being charged with “sexting” is still a serious criminal matter, even for a juvenile. A strong defense strategy that takes into account the specific circumstances of the child’s case is essential to obtaining the best possible outcome.

Defenses to Juvenile Sexting Charges

A juvenile charged with sexting under Florida’s laws may have a defense to such charges if the child did not solicit or ask to have the pictures or videos at issue sent to him or her. Moreover, a child may not have violated Florida’s juvenile sexting law if the juvenile took reasonable steps to report nude or sexually explicit photographs or media which came into his or her possession.

The statute also limits the number of charges that a juvenile can face. Possession of multiple pictures or other media that the child received within a 24-hour period will be treated as a single criminal act. Similarly, a juvenile who transmits multiple images or videos will face a single criminal charge if those images or videos were transmitted within a 24-hour period. 

Penalties for Child Pornography in Gainesville

Those charged with possessing or manufacturing child pornography are at risk of suffering significant penalties and consequences if they are convicted of those crimes. Moreover, because it is illegal under federal law to possess or distribute child pornography, individuals may face both state and federal penalties. Some of the consequences of a child pornography conviction include:

  • Being sentenced to between five and 30 years in prison
  • A potential life sentence in prison for individuals who have prior offenses
  • Registration as a sex offender, potentially for life. This registration requirement follows the individual wherever he or she may live
  • Restrictions on access to children. The individual may face limitations on when and under what circumstances he or she can be around any children, including the person’s own children
  • Limitations and challenges in finding employment

State and federal authorities investigate and prosecute child pornography charges aggressively, even if there is only one image or file involved. Moreover, in the case of federal child pornography charges, the potential sentences can be even more severe if the child depicted is under the age of twelve or if the images appear to depict children engaged in sadistic or masochistic activities.

More Severe Penalties Possible Under Certain Circumstances

The potential penalties that accompany a child pornography-related conviction are severe enough, but certain aggravating circumstances can result in even more serious results. These circumstances include:

  • Four or more child pornography images, videos, or files
  • Images or media depicting a child under the age of 5 years
  • Media showing images of a child being abused or battered
  • Bestiality involving children

A skilled Gainesville child pornography defense attorney may be able to mitigate some of these consequences or assist individuals facing charges avoid a conviction altogether. The sooner you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney in Gainesville, the quicker your attorney can get to work helping you develop your defense strategy.

Child Pornography Defenses Available to Defendants

Facing child pornography charges can be daunting and disheartening, especially if the person did not do anything wrong. Fortunately, individuals may have one or more defenses available to them in their criminal cases. These include:

  • No child depiction: If there is no child under the age of eighteen years depicted in the images or videos, then the person cannot be convicted of child pornography. This is true no matter how young the person or performer might appear to be. Tangible proof or convincing evidence suggesting that the individual(s) shown in the photographs or movies are over eighteen years of age can be a powerful defense.
  • Child erotica vs. child pornography: Child pornography is explicitly defined in the Florida statutes. Florida Statute § 847.001(3) includes images, media, downloads, websites, and other similar materials depicting a child under the age of eighteen years engaged in “sexual conduct.” There is another class of material, though, that is known as child erotica. Child erotica shows minor children in erotic or sensual positions or situations, but it does not meet the statutory definition of child pornography.
  • Illegalities in the investigation: Before law enforcement officers can search a person’s home or take his or her computer in order to review the contents thereof, law enforcement must typically secure a search warrant from the court. Absent a warrant or one of a few narrow exceptions to the warrant requirement, any search of your personal effects or your home may be unconstitutional. Unconstitutional searches and “confessions” or statements elicited without your being made aware of your rights may be “suppressed,” or kept out of court.
  • Lack of knowledge or intent: Individuals who are sent child pornography without their knowing and who quickly delete or report those images or videos may have a defense to possession or transmission of child pornography charges. This may occur if a person’s phone or computer system is hacked or if another person accesses the accused’s electronic devices without the accused’s knowledge. If the prosecution cannot bring forward evidence or testimony that establishes the accused knew that images, files, media, or videos on his or her devices contained, it may be difficult for the prosecution to obtain a conviction.

Attempt to destroy or report: A person facing federal child pornography charges may have a defense against those charges if the person made a bona fide, good-faith effort to turn in the child pornography to authorities or to otherwise report the illegal material. 

Individuals who wait weeks or months after finding child pornography to be in their possession before reporting it will not see much benefit from this defense strategy. Similarly, assertions that one was trying to “report” child pornography by distributing it to others who were not law enforcement authorities will not be successful. However, this defense strategy may be a successful strategy where the accused has taken action after discovering child pornography such as turning the device and the images or media contained thereon over to law enforcement soon after discovering the illegal material.

In addition to these strategies, a reduction in the number or severity of charges or a suspension of sentence may be possible for those individuals accused of child pornography charges who assist local or federal authorities in identifying others who are distributing or transmitting child pornography. Resolving cases in this manner is a discretionary power given to prosecutors. Therefore, its availability will be highly dependent on the facts of each case and the value of cooperation each person provides.

The knowledge and experience of a skilled and qualified Gainesville child pornography attorney is necessary in order to identify and pursue those defense strategies most likely to produce positive results.

Why Choose Gainesville Criminal Defense Law Firm Musca Law?

A person facing child pornography charges or other related charges needs a legal advocate who understands the serious ramifications of these offenses and knows how to investigate and defend against them. Musca Law has a combined total of over 150 years of experience in representing those accused of serious crimes in the Gainesville area. Musca Law has received numerous awards and accolades from its legal peers as well as from clients in recognition of the firm’s exceptional service to clients and thorough knowledge of the law. 

Individuals can be falsely accused of child pornography crimes based on images or media found on the individual’s electronic devices. Pornographic material that was downloaded by someone else or a virus that placed on the device without the person knowing. The facts of any criminal case matter and Musca Law’s Gainesville attorneys are experienced in closely analyzing the facts of clients’ cases and uncovering any weaknesses or deficiencies in the prosecution’s case.

It is possible to defeat child pornography charges brought against you in Gainesville or elsewhere throughout Florida, but it is crucial that you speak with an attorney as soon as you are able to do so. Having legal assistance available at each stage of your case may increase the chances of a favorable outcome overall. Also, this allows your lawyer to address other issues such as pretrial release pending trial and any protective orders the court may have entered, preventing you from having contact with family members.

Reach out to Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057 in order to schedule a no-obligation evaluation of your case. Let us explain how our firm’s services can assist you in overcoming any child pornography and child sex crime charges filed against you.

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