Child Pornography Charge Defense Lawyers in Daytona Beach, Florida
Law enforcement in Daytona Beach, Florida seeks to pursue child pornography offenders in an aggressive manner. Additionally, prosecutors zealously represent the interests of the state in trying to secure a conviction. Law enforcement and the prosecution alike attempt to eradicate offenders by engaging in wide-sweeping stings in order to impose harsh prison sentences and other penalties. Judges in Daytona Beach also take child pornography charges very seriously and often seek the most severe prison term and other penalties.
The black market trade of videos and images of minors (children under the age of 18) posing in sexual positions undoubtedly endangers children. As such, police and prosecutors in Daytona Beach pursue child pornography crimes to the fullest extent of the law in order to protect children from being exploited. Children who live in abusive situations, who have a drug addiction, and those who ran away from their homes often become prey for individuals to create sexually explicit content of minors.
People who have a prurient interest in viewing child pornography serve to create a market for others to develop and distribute child pornography. The alleged offenders often use the internet to distribute child pornographic images. Offenders often use the “dark web” to upload images that enables others to download and store them on their computers and mobile devices. Moreover, there are websites on the internet that enable people to access content depicting illegal sexual encounters with minors and the opportunity to create child pornography.
Notwithstanding, Daytona Beach police and prosecutors face increasingly difficult challenges on a daily basis when investigating a child pornography case given ever-evolving technology. Those challenges will lead the police to tiptoe the line between good police work and violating people’s rights to acquire evidence of a crime.
Musca Law: Fighting to Protect Constitutional Rights in Daytona Beach
The Daytona Beach child pornography defense lawyers at Musca Law are the last line of protection between the might of government and the accused. Without lawyers to passionately fight to protect defendants from the tyranny of the government as guaranteed by the Florida State Constitution and the Constitution of the United States, then individuals facing child pornography charges, let alone the possession of child pornographic content, would be sent to jail based solely on the infamy of the charge rather than the proof of guilt.
The Daytona Beach child pornography defense attorneys at Musca Law, one of Florida’s premier criminal defense firms, are fully aware that being charged with the creation, distribution, or possession of child pornography is not only embarrassing, but can completely ruin the life of the accused, especially when the person is innocent. Musca Law’s team of legal professionals also know that individuals can make mistakes, and those mistakes can cause people to be at risk for losing their freedom and livelihood.
Musca Law’s Daytona Beach child pornography defense lawyers can help you, regardless of what situation you find yourself in. If you believe that you are the subject of an investigation, or you are facing child pornography charges, then you need to act expeditiously to hire an attorney who will tirelessly fight to safeguard your legal rights and achieve the most favorable outcome. Start your defense today by calling Musca Law at (888) 484-5057.
Daytona Beach Child Pornography Charges
The investigating officers and the prosecution will fight for the most severe charges available to them when pursing a child pornography case in Daytona Beach. The police must obtain evidence that is sufficient to give them probable cause to charge a person with child pornography. Probable cause is a very low legal standard when compared to the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt that is required in order to convict a person of a crime in the United States. Notwithstanding, prosecutors and police can pursue charges against an individual that are supported by probable cause, even if they do not have sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. Therefore, police and prosecutors often “overcharge” cases by issuing more severe charges than they could prove or taking out a substantial number of charges.
Possession of Child Pornography
In order to secure a conviction for child pornography, the prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The government cannot win a conviction if they fail to prove possession and not both possession and the existence of an image satisfying the definition of child pornography.
Under Florida law, it defines an image of child pornography as a picture that depicts a minor under the age of 18 engaged in sexual activity or in the nude.
Possession in Florida takes two forms: constructive and actual. Constructive possession means that an individual has control over an object even though he or she does not control it in a physical manner. Proving constructive possession requires the government to establish that the accused knew the location of the item, had the opportunity or ability to exercise control and dominion over it, and had the requisite intent to do so as well. Conversely, actual possession means that the accused had the present physical control over an object.
It is a third-degree felony to possess child pornography in Florida, which carries with it a penalty of five years in a state prison. Law enforcement can charge one count of possession of child pornography for every image discovered by police. This means that the judge could sentence the offender to up to five years for each image and order the sentence for each image to be served consecutively, or “from and after” each other.
The federal government can also prosecute individuals for the possession of child pornography. Federal law applies should the image or images be transmitted via the internet, transferred via U.S. mail, or by other methods that cross state lines. This means that the Attorney’s Office serving Daytona Beach could pursue a federal indictment since they would have jurisdiction in addition to the state. If convicted of the federal crime of possession of child pornography, the offender could face a prison sentence of up to fifteen years in a federal prison.
Exposing Minor Children to Pornography
Police in Daytona Beach, Florida can charge an individual for exposing minors to pornography if he or she shows images or videos that meet the definition of pornography to a person under eighteen years of age. There is no legal requirement in Florida that the image is child pornographic in nature to be guilty of this offense. Specifically, the crime is complete if an individual shows to a child under the age of eighteen any material that is pornographic (meaning, that it could depict adults engaged in sexual activity).
The exposure of child pornography to minors constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries with it a jail term of one year in a county jail and a monetary fine of up to $1,000. The convicted offender must also register as a sex offender, and the government may pursue more severe penalties and fines for subsequent convictions of this crime.
Distribution of Child Pornography
Distributing child pornography is a second-degree felony in Florida, which carries with it a potential fifteen-year state prison term and a monetary fine of up to $10,000. Any individual who is convicted of this crime will also be required to register as a sex offender. The gravamen of the charge of distributing child pornography is the act of dispersing, advertising, directing, producing, or distributing child pornography. The act may be perpetrated by any of those methods.
Manufacturing Child Pornography
The manufacturing of child pornography constitutes a second-degree Felony in Florida. Similar to the distribution of child pornography, manufacturing child pornography is an offense that involves the direction or production of pornography involving children. A person can be found guilty of this offense by creating or producing images or videos of minors in a sexually suggestive manner. Moreover, a person can face a conviction of this crime if he or she solicits another individual to participate in the production or development of child pornography.
As noted above, a second-degree felony in Florida is associated with a fifteen-year prison term and a $10,000 monetary fine. The offender may also be required to register as a sex offender.
Sentencing Scheme for Child Pornography Crimes in Volusia County, Florida
Judges in Daytona Beach courts often impose the harshest sentence for those accused of a child pornographic offense. Florida law does not restrict judges’ discretion when passing a sentence on an offender. Hence, a judge has the discretion to run committed sentences consecutively, meaning one after another to punish all criminal acts to the fullest extent. For instance, if a person is convicted of six counts of the possession of child pornographic material, then a judge could sentence the accused to 30 years or five years from and after each count. Moreover, the prosecution could pursue one charge for every pornographic image. Thus, if an individual has in his or her possession 200 photos depicting child pornography, then the judge could conceivably convict the offender and impose a 1,000-year sentence.
This scenario is not too far-fetched. Specifically, judges sometimes impose sentences for each individual conviction rather than sentencing the individual for a class of offenses. Prosecutors could also use their discretion and seek only one charge to represent the class of crimes rather than one criminal count for each photograph or video.
Federal Child Pornography Crimes and Punishments
A person who uses the internet or the mail to commit an offense involves the jurisdiction of the federal government. Generally, the federal government does not pursue minor cases. Specifically, they typically go after the most egregious offenders or those who are held to a higher standard such as a police officer or teacher who is caught with child pornography. Of course, they are not limited to pursuing those offenders.
Federal law enforcement has concurrent jurisdiction with investigators in Daytona Beach. Agencies like the FBI could investigate the same criminal behavior and “adopt” the prosecution from the state authorities or indict someone after they complete an investigation.
Federal criminal charges pertaining to child pornography may lead to the imposition of a lengthy prison sentence in a federal jail. Any images that show a minor under the age of twelve, or depict a minor engaged in unnatural, sadistic, or masochistic acts could result in the judge imposing harsh penalties, including extended jail time and monetary fines. Moreover, any person who is charged with the possession of four or more child pornographic images, possession of imagery that depicts minors engaged in sexual acts, or any image involving a child under the age of five could face serious penalties, including a jail term that lasts for a decade or more.
Defense Strategies for Daytona Beach Child Pornography Charges
Facing charges associated with child pornography has serious consequences that go beyond anything that occurs in a courtroom. The charge of possession of child pornography, on its own, causes a harsh response from people, and they often jump to conclusions that the person charged is a sexual deviant. The individual facing child pornographic-related crimes could face restrictions on whom they could associate, lose their job, and be unable to find suitable housing. Moreover, members of an offender’s family could face serious embarrassment and be ostracized from the community given the fact that one of their family members was charged with a child pornographic-related offense.
If you are facing child pornography charges, you can turn to the attorneys with Musca Law for help. They fully understand that fighting tirelessly to safeguard their clients’ statutory and constitutional rights is of greater importance than what uninformed members of the public believe about the charges. The experienced Daytona Beach child pornography defense attorneys at Musca Law will step up to the plate and present a strong defense on behalf of a person charged with a child pornography-related crime.
Each case turns on the specific facts and circumstances as well as the person involved. A thorough understanding of the facts surrounding the case as well as close consultation with the client enables the attorneys at Musca Law to develop a defense strategy that is in the best interests of the person facing child pornography charges. A skilled and highly experienced Daytona Beach child pornography defense lawyer will put together a specific strategy to secure a dismissal of the case or a reduction of the charges through a plea deal.
Defenses to Child Pornography in Daytona Beach
The defense of child erotica challenges the nature of the imagery at issue during a trial. It is not unlawful to possess child erotica in Florida, despite the fact that it may be offensive to many. The difference between child pornography and child erotica lies in the actions performed by the minors. Specifically, child erotica may involve a child who is semi-naked or completely unclothed, and could even be in a sexually suggestive manner (but not engaged in a lewd or lascivious act).
Unknowing or Unwitting Possession
As discussed above, possession must be intentional and knowingly committed. If a person accidentally opens a file that contains child pornography, it is not a crime. If the person locates a file and deletes it immediately, he or she can have an affirmative defense to the crime. For instance, downloading and opening a file from the web that is believed to be from a reputable source could actually be corrupted with illicit photographs. In other words, unknowingly and innocently opening a file believed to be from a legitimate source is not a crime. The defense’s case is much stronger if the individual immediately deletes the pornographic image.
Keep in mind that law enforcement has the technology necessary to track an image through the use of software that enables them to find it on a computer. Most individuals believe that deleting an image or file on a computer gets rid of it forever. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Steps must be taken by a person to entirely remove an image from a computer on a permanent basis. However, performing this task is most often beyond the abilities of the average computer user.
The prosecutor always has the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt intentional and knowing possession. Asserting that the defendant unknowingly possessed or transitorily possessed illicit imagery, which is another common defense to child pornography, could influence the jury to conclude that the government failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Images Depict Adults and Not Children
In order to qualify as child pornography, the subjects of the images must be under the age of eighteen. The state must prove each element of the crime of child pornography. In some instances, the government can prove the age of the child in the image using circumstantial evidence. However, in other cases, the person depicted in the image could be old enough, such as age eighteen or older, to legally appear in the video or image.
A person who is facing child pornography-related charges could attempt to find the individuals in the subject images or videos in order to prove that they are, in fact, adults.
Evidence seized by law enforcement in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution cannot be used against an accused at trial. The police must adhere to strict procedural guidelines when searching a person’s belongings (including a phone and computer) and home. Failing to do so could cause the evidence to be thrown out or suppressed. Moreover, any statements made by the accused without being read his or her Miranda rights cannot be admitted in court to establish the guilt of a person accused of committing a crime. Therefore, pursuing pre-trial motions to suppress evidence is a highly beneficial tactic that is used by the defense. Even if the court determines that law enforcement did not violate the rights of the accused, arguing the motions could expose weaknesses in the government’s case, which could assist the accused in winning an acquittal after a trial or give the defense leverage to negotiate a favorable plea bargain.
Daytona Beach Child Pornography Defense Attorneys Ready to Fight for You
Call Musca Law today at (888) 484-5057 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your free initial consultation to learn how our law firm can protect your legal rights. Do not delay. Your freedom and liberty are too valuable to wait and see what happens. Contact our Daytona Beach Defense Lawyers now to learn more about how we can make a difference for you.