Aggravated Charges and Enhanced Sentencing for Florida Child Pornography Criminal Charges
Recent Crack Downs on Offenders Involved in Child Pornography
Recently, law enforcement in Florida has been focused heavily on catching criminal sex offenders, especially those who engage in sex crimes involving children. Several undercover operations in Florida and across the country indicate that these crimes are on the radar of both federal and state criminal investigators.
In fact, one month-long investigation in Florida made national headlines. Specifically, the Sheriff’s Office of Polk County, Florida pressed charges against seventeen men with child pornography-related offenses. The list of suspects includes a school principal as well as two employees of Disney World. In at least one case, the accused attempted to meet with a thirteen-year-old girl via Facebook Messenger. Law enforcement placed the man under arrest at the proposed meet-up place. The age of the perpetrators ranged from nineteen to seventy-seven, and some of the offenders face several hundred charges. Police focused this operation on computer-based criminal activities, and it involved several undercover detectives who worked to locate and identify the many suspects involved in the child pornography-related operation. This investigation evinces the State of Florida’s zero tolerance for those who commit sex crimes against children.
In some circumstances, Florida law enforcement officers have been heavily criticized for taking an aggressive, “sting-style” approach to investigating potential child predators. Some actually follow the style of the NBC Dateline series “To Catch a Predator.” This show involved operations that specifically targeted adults who were trying to arrange meetings with minors using internet chat rooms.
In some instances, Florida law enforcement officers have faced criticism for their aggressive sting-style investigations into possible child predators. Some of these operations follow the style of the NBC Dateline twelve-part series “To Catch a Predator.” The popular series involved operations targeting adults who were attempting to arrange meetings with children through internet chat rooms.
This program ended in 2007 when one man caught trying to meet with a minor committed suicide. Critics of the program claim that it enticed people who were not actively trying to seek sexual encounters with minors. They further assert that the focus should be on those that voluntarily engage in measures to have a sexual encounter with a minor.
The recent arrests show that the Florida investigators are not slowing down in their efforts. Anyone accused should immediately speak to a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney to ensure that their legal rights are preserved throughout any investigation and trial.
Types of Child Pornography Crimes in Florida
There are numerous offenses that fall within the purview of child pornography-related crimes in Florida. Depending upon the specific set of circumstances and the nature of the charges, the consequences of a conviction can vary. That is why it is important for an accused to understand his or her charges so that he or she can successfully defend himself or herself. The following are the scope of child pornography-related charges in Florida:
- Exposing a minor to pornography - If an accused has knowledge that a video, image, exhibition, or movie contains pornographic material or representations, and intentionally exposes a minor (a child under the age of eighteen) to said material, he or she can face a maximum of one year in prison, a $1,000 monetary penalty, and be forced to register as a sex offender. If a person is a repeat offender, he or she may face enhanced penalties, such as extended jail time, harsh monetary fines, and other serious consequences.
- Possession of Child Pornography - Possession of child pornography occurs when an individual downloads or has in his or her possession content depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct. A person convicted of this offense can face a maximum of five years in prison and may also be charged with a federal offense in this regard. If an individual with child pornography in his or her possession shares this content with others, he or she could face imprisonment for up to fifteen years, as well as be forced to pay harsh monetary fines and register as a sex offender.
- Distribution of Child Pornography – If a person produces, disperses, directs, or advertises videos and/or images of a minor engaged in sexual conduct, he or she can face this serious charge. To support this charge, the prosecutor must provide that the accused had knowledge that the videos and/or images depicted a minor and chose to distribute them anyway. If a person is convicted of this charge, he or she could face up to fifteen years in jail, be forced to pay steep monetary fines, as well as register as a sex offender.
- Transmission of Child Pornography - Transmitting child pornography is an offense that involves an individual who sends or delivers data, information, and/or images from one source to another through the use of an electronic device or the internet. Each depiction is counted as an additional charge. Anyone who is convicted of this offense can be sentenced to up to five years in jail and may be forced to pay a fine of $5,000. The individual will also be required to register as a sex offender.
- Manufacturing of Child Pornography – A person who directs or produces videos, acts, or images, or who solicits minors for the production of these depictions, can face this serious charge. If convicted, he or she can face up to fifteen years in jail, be forced to pay steep monetary fines, and register as a sex offender.
Child Pornography-Related Offenses in Florida
A person charged with a child pornography-related offense may be subject to additional criminal charges, depending upon the facts and circumstances of his or her case. Prosecutors take child sex crimes, and sex crimes in general, very seriously, and will try to find every possible charge to file against the accused.
Some charges often filed along with child pornography charges are as follows:
- • Lewd behavior with a minor;
- • Fondling of a minor;
- • Statutory rape
- • Rape;
- • The sexual battery of a minor; or
- • Other sex act crimes with a minor.
In Florida, children are not deemed as capable of consenting to engage in sexual acts. That is why anyone who perpetrates a sex-related crime involving a minor will face criminal charges.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to discuss the possible defenses to these charges.
Aggravated Charges and Enhanced Sentencing
Child pornography-related charges include mandatory minimum sentencing, but in some cases, the sentence can be greatly enhanced. Enhanced sentencing may be sought if the accused has over four images in his or her possession that qualify as child pornography. Additional circumstances that can lead to aggravated chargers and harsher sentencing are when an individual has:
- • Images depicting sexual battery of a minor;
- • Any movie depicting sexual acts involving minors;
- • Images depicting sexual bestiality with a minor;
- • Images including sadomasochistic abuse of a minor; and/or
- • Images depicting children under the age of five.
If an individual is found guilty of aggravated charges for child pornography in the State of Florida, the judge will be able to sentence the defendant to sex offender probation.
Teen Sexting Underage Children and Special Circumstances
Recently, texting and teen ownership of smartphones have made “sexting” a common problem among high school-aged children. Sexting occurs when an individual sends digital communications, including sexually explicit or nude images, to others who are typically the same age. When consenting adults engage in such behavior, it is not considered a criminal act. It is important to realize however, that even though the individuals engaged in sexting are minors, this does not prevent prosecution for this crime. It is also critical to understand that both the person who sends the texts, as well as the recipient, can be prosecuted for sexting.
A minor can avoid being charged or convicted of sexting if he or she reported the matter to a school official, member of law enforcement, teacher, parent, or legal guardian. If the minor shared the image with others before reporting it to an adult, he or she will not be able to avail himself or herself of this defense.
The criminal act of sexting can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the specific facts of the case. Multiple offenses or repeat offenders will face more severe penalties. In either case, the accused may face imprisonment, the imposition of harsh fines, and more.
Contact the Child Pron Defense Attorneys at Musca Law Today. Your Life and Your Liberty Depend Upon It!
To learn about your legal options and rights, call the hardworking child pornography defense lawyers at Musca Law at 1-888-484-5057.