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Florida Internet Solicitation Laws, Penalties and Definitions

Most communication today is transmitted by electronic means, including, among others, email, text messaging, and social media direct messaging. Along with advances in technology comes an entirely new category of crimes. Internet crimes can be extremely serious, especially when they involve the solicitation of a child for sexual conduct. Florida law can be harsh to accused individuals, and simply being charged with an internet solicitation charge can be damaging to a person’s reputation and well-being. Even if proven innocent, an individual may still be considered a sex offender simply because people choose to believe the allegations and not the facts. All sex crimes carry heavy penalties, and internet solicitation crimes are no exception.

Florida’s Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act

The Florida Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act addresses a wide array of conduct involving computer pornography and children, such as, among others, possession of child pornography, the transmission of child pornography, purchasing or selling child pornography, and solicitation of a child for sexual conduct. All crimes that fall under this Act are severe, and conviction can land a person in jail for years, forever changing his or her life.

Internet Solicitation of a Child for Sexual Conduct

Under Florida Statute Section 847.0135(3)(a), “any person who knowingly uses a computer online service, internet service, local bulletin board service, or any other device capable of electronic data storage or transmission to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child or another person believed by the person to be a child to engage in any unlawful sexual conduct with a child or with another person believed by the person to be a child” is guilty of internet solicitation of a child for sexual conduct. This statute also covers additional sex crimes, including, among others, sexual battery, lewd and lascivious acts, and child abuse. These charges are often the result of an internet sting operation put on by local or federal law enforcement. 

Internet Solicitation of a Parent, Legal Guardian, or Custodian to Allow Sexual Conduct with a Child

Under Florida Statute Section 847.0135(3)(b), “any person who knowingly uses a computer online service, internet service, local bulletin board service, or any other device capable of electronic data storage or transmission to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child or a person believed to be a parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child to consent to the participation of such child in any act” including, among others, sexual battery, lewd and lascivious acts, child abuse, or to otherwise engage in any sexual conduct is guilty of internet solicitation of a parent, legal guardian, or custodian to allow sexual conduct with a child.

What the Prosecution Must Prove to Convict a Person Under Florida Law

To convict an individual of internet solicitation of a child, the prosecution must prove and convince a jury of the following:

  • The accused person knowingly used electronic means to send messages to a child;
  • The child was, in fact, a child, or believed to be a child by the accused person; and
  • In the course of the contact between the accused person and the child, the accused person “seduced, solicited, lured, or enticed” or “attempted to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice” the child to participate in unlawful sexual conduct, including, among others, sexual battery, lewd and lascivious acts, and child abuse.

To convict an individual of internet solicitation of a parent, legal guardian, or custodian to allow sexual conduct with the child, the prosecution must prove and convince a jury of the following:

  • The accused person knowingly used electronic means to send messages to the person believed to be the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child; and
  • In the course of the contact between the accused person and the parent, legal guardian, or custodian of the child, the accused person “seduced, solicited, lured, enticed,” or “attempted to seduce, solicit, lure, and entice the parent, legal guardian, or custodian” to consent to the child’s engagement in unlawful sexual conduct, including, among others, sexual battery, lewd and lascivious acts, and child abuse.

The Consequences of Conviction Under Florida Law

If an individual is convicted of either internet solicitation of a child for sexual conduct or internet solicitation of a parent/legal guardian/custodian to allow sexual conduct with a child, he/she faces a third-degree felony which may result in jail time of up to five (5) years and a fine not to exceed $5,000. If the accused individual is not truthful about his/her age when committing the act of solicitation, the crime becomes a second-degree felony, which may result in jail time of up to fifteen (15) years and a fine not to exceed $10,000. Convicted individuals should also expect to be under probation.

Convicted Individuals Become Registered Sexual Offenders

The criminal consequences of jail time, fines, and probation are hard enough. The consequences of conviction go even further, and any person who is convicted of internet solicitation is deemed a sexual offender. As such, a person will be viewable to the public as a sexual offender on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s website. Having a criminal conviction of any sort can make it challenging to get a job, rent a home, or attend school. When the criminal conviction has labeled the accused as a sexual offender, it may be even harder to get a job or to make any necessary life steps.

How Musca Law Can Help You – Building Your Defense

At Musca Law, we routinely handle serious felony criminal matters that have the potential to land our clients in jail. We know what is at stake when defending our clients in court, fighting to weaken the prosecution’s case. The Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law will seek to reach the best result possible in each client’s case. The result in some cases may be dismissal, while in other cases, the result may be the conviction of a less severe charge.

To reach a favorable result, the legal team of Musca Law will demonstrate how the prosecution has failed to satisfy all elements of a crime, as defined by Florida law. If one element is not met, the accused should not be convicted. Additionally, if the prosecution has illegally obtained evidence, grounds may exist to seek dismissal of criminal charges.

Musca Law has extensive experience helping clients avoid jail time or at least reach a fair result, given the facts of a client’s case. While results in any criminal matter can never be guaranteed, clients with strong and reputable attorneys often fare better than those with less-experienced attorneys, or attorneys who do not handle serious felony matters regularly. Too much is on the line to leave a criminal case in the hands of an inexperienced attorney.

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