Child Pornography Charges Defense Lawyers in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Police in Fort Walton zealously pursue those who engage in child pornography. Moreover, prosecutors aggressively represent the interests of the state in attempting to secure a successful conviction. Law enforcement and the prosecution alike attempt to eliminate those accused of child pornography by engaging in wide-sweeping police stings in order to seek the harshest penalties possible. Judges in Fort Walton also regularly convict those accused of child pornography-related offenses and impose the most severe prison sentences and other serious penalties.
Musca Law: Fighting to Protect Constitutional Rights in Fort Walton
The Fort Walton child pornography defense attorneys at Musca Law have successfully represented thousands of clients facing child pornography-related charges all throughout the state of Florida. Our experienced team of legal professions seeks to protect defendants from overzealous police and prosecutors and work tirelessly to safeguard the legal rights and interests of our clients as guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions.
Our attorneys are acutely aware that facing charges of creating, distributing, or possessing child pornography not only leads to significant embarrassment, it can also ruin an accused’s life, especially when he or she is innocent. We also realize that people can make mistakes, of which can cause an accused to be at risk of losing their livelihood and freedom.
The Fort Walton child pornography defense attorneys have the tools and resources necessary to help you, regardless of how complex your case may be. If you are the subject of an investigation, or if you have already been charged with a child pornography-related offense, then you must act quickly to hire a lawyer who will protect your legal rights and mount a strong defense on your behalf. Start your defense now by calling Musca Law at (888) 484-5057.
Fort Walton Child Pornography Charges in Fort Walton
The prosecution and investigating officers fight aggressively to pursue the most severe charges available to them when handling a child pornography case in Fort Walton. Police must acquire enough evidence that gives them probable cause to seek charges against a person for a child pornography-related offense. Probable cause is a much lower standard than that of beyond a reasonable doubt, which is required for a person to be convicted of a criminal offense in the United States. Even so, law enforcement can pursue charges against a person that support a showing of probable cause, even if they do not have enough evidence to secure a successful conviction. Hence, police and prosecutors often overcharge causes by seeking the most severe charges and the most substantial number of charges.
Possession of Child Pornography in Okaloosa County, Florida
To obtain a successful conviction for child pornography, the prosecutor must prove his or her case beyond a reasonable doubt. The government cannot secure a conviction if they do not prove possession and the existence of an image(s) satisfying the definition of child pornography.
Under Florida law, an image of child pornography is defined as a picture that depicts a person under the age of eighteen naked or engaged in sexual activity. Possession in Florida takes two forms: constructive and actual. Constructive possession means that a person has control over an image of child pornography, even though he or she does not have control over it in a physical way. Proving constructive possession requires the prosecution to prove that the alleged offender knew where the image was located, had the ability or opportunity to exercise dominion and control over it, and had the necessary intent to do so as well. Actual possession means that the alleged offender has physical control over an image.
It is a felony in the third degree in Florida to possess child pornography in Florida, which is associated with a penalty of five years in a state penitentiary. Each image discovered by law enforcement constitutes one count of possession of child pornography. What this means is that a judge could sentence an offender to up to five years for each image and order the prison term to be served consecutively, or “from and after” each other.
The federal government also has jurisdiction in some child pornography cases, which means that an accused could be convicted under state and federal law. Federal law applies when an image or images are transferred via U.S. mail, via the internet, or by other methods that cross state boundaries. This means that the U.S. Attorney’s Office serving Fort Walton could seek a federal indictment. If a person is convicted of the federal offense of the possession of child pornography, he or she could be sentenced to up to fifteen years in a federal jail.
Exposing Minor Children to Pornography
Law enforcement in Fort Walton can charge a person for exposing minors to pornography if he or she shows videos or images of pornography (which could depict children or adults engaged in sexual activity) to an individual who is under the age of eighteen.
This offense is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, which is associated with a jail term of up to a year and a monetary fine of up to $1,000. The offender must also register as a sex offender, and the state may seek more severe penalties for subsequent convictions of this offense.
Distributing Child Pornography
It is a second-degree felony in Fort Walton to distribute child pornography, which carries with it a maximum fifteen-year jail term and a monetary fine of up to $10,000. Any person who is convicted of this offense will be required to register as a sex offender.
Manufacturing Child Pornography
The manufacture of child pornography is a felony in the second degree, which carries with it a fifteen-year prison term and a maximum monetary fine of $10,000. The offender will also be required to register as a sex offender. Similar to the distribution of child pornography, the manufacture of child pornography is a crime that involves the production or direction of pornography involving minors. Otherwise stated, an individual can be found guilty of this crime by producing or creating videos or images of minors in a sexually suggestive manner. Additionally, an individual will be convicted of this offense if he or she solicits another individual to participate in the production or development of child pornography.
Sentencing Scheme for Child Pornography Crimes in Fort Walton
Judges in Fort Walton often impose the most strict sentences for individuals facing an accusation of a child pornography-related offense. Keep in mind that the state of Florida does not impose restrictions on judges when issuing a sentence against an offender. Therefore, a judge has the discretion to run committed sentences in a consecutive manner, meaning one after another to punish all criminal acts to the fullest extent of the law. For example, if a person is convicted of five counts of the possession of child pornography, then a judge could sentence the accused to 25 years in prison, or five years from and after each count. Additionally, the prosecution could pursue one charge for the possession of each pornographic image. This means that an individual who has 100 photos of child pornography in his or her possession could conceivably be convicted for 500 years in prison.
This scenario is not implausible. In fact, judges often impose sentences for each individual convocation rather than sentencing the person for a class of crimes. Prosecutors also could use their discretion and seek only one charge to represent a class of crimes rather than one criminal count for each video or photograph.
Federal Child Pornography Crimes and Punishments in Fort Walton
As noted above, an individual who uses the mail or the internet in furtherance of a child-pornographic offense invokes the jurisdiction of the federal government. Keep in mind that the federal government only pursues serious cases, such as those involving egregious offenders or those held to a higher standard such as a teacher or police officer.
Federal law enforcement has concurrent jurisdiction with investigators in Fort Walton. As such, agencies such as the FBI could investigate the same criminal behavior and indict someone after completing a comprehensive investigation.
Keep in mind that criminal charges sought after by federal authorities pertaining to child pornography may result in the imposition of an extended prison sentence in a federal jail. Any images that depict a child under the age of twelve or show a minor engaged in masochistic, sadistic or unnatural acts could lead to the imposition severe penalties, including jail time for an extended period of time and monetary fines. Additionally, a person who is charged with the possession of four or more images of child pornography, possession of imagery that depicts children engaged in sexual acts, or any image involving a minor under the age of five could lead to severe penalties, including a prison term of up to a decade or more.
Defense Strategies for Fort Walton Child Pornography Charges
There are serious consequences associated with a conviction for a child pornography offense that go beyond anything that happens in the courtroom for the charge of possessing child pornography. Being convicted of a child-pornographic offense often results in social stigma, where society jumps to conclusions that the individual facing child pornography charges is a deviant or pervert. The person facing child pornography charges could also face such consequences such as the loss of his or job, the inability to find suitable housing, and restrictions with whom they can associate. Additionally, family members of the offender could also be ostracized from the community and face serious embarrassment given that one of their family members was charged with a child pornography-related crime.
If you are facing child pornography charges, you must seek the assistance of the Fort Walton criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law. They understand that fighting tirelessly to safeguard the constitutional rights and interests of an accused is of greater importance than what judgmental members of the community believe about the charges. The experienced Fort Walton criminal defense lawyers at Musca Law will work to develop the strongest defense strategy possible.
Each case depends upon the specific facts and circumstances, as well as the person involved. A comprehensive understanding of the facts of the case as well as the confidential consultation with each of our clients enables the lawyers at Musca Law to develop the strongest defense strategy possible that is in the best interests of our clients. An experienced Fort Walton child pornography defense lawyers will also seek to secure a reduction of the charges pursuant to a plea deal or an outright dismissal of the case.
Defenses to Child Pornography in Fort Walton
The defense of child erotica challenges the nature of the images during the trial phase of the case. In Florida, it is not illegal to possess child erotica, despite the fact that it may offend many people. The difference between child erotica and child pornography depends upon the actions performed by the children. Child erotica may involve a minor who is semi-naked or completely unclothed, and could even involve the depiction of a child in a sexually suggestive manner, but not engaged in a lewd or lascivious act.
Unknowing or Unwitting Possession
As stated above, the crime of possessing child pornography must be knowing and intentional. If an individual accidentally opens a file that contains child pornography, it is not deemed as committing a crime. In addition, if an individual locates a file containing child pornography and immediately deletes it, he or she may have a successful defense to the crime of possession of child pornography. For example, downloading and opening a file from the internet believing that it is a reputable source could be corrupted with illicit photographs of children engaged in sexual acts. Otherwise stated, the unknowing and innocent opening of a file believed to be from a legitimate source is not a crime. The defense is much stronger if the person had immediately deleted the file.
Keep in mind that police have the ability, through technology, to obtain the child-pornographic images through the use of software that allows them to locate said images on a computer, even if they are were deleted. Many people have the mistaken belief that deleting the images makes them inaccessible to police. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are several steps necessary to delete child pornographic-images on a computer on a permanent basis. Notwithstanding, this process is not a task that is readily known by the average computer user.
Please note that the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a person knowingly and intentionally possessed images of child pornography. Claiming that the accused unknowingly and unintentionally possessed or transitorily possessed unlawful imagery, which is another defense to child-pornographic material, could influence the jury to render the conclusion that the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Images Depict Adults and Not Children
The commission of a child-pornographic crime must involve children under the age of eighteen in order for the prosecution to secure a successful conviction. In some cases, the prosecution can prove the age of the individual in the image using circumstantial evidence. However, in other cases, the defense can establish that the person depicted in the image is eighteen or older.
The illegal seizure of evidence by law enforcement in violation of the United States Constitution cannot be used against the defendant during the trial phase of the case. The police must adhere to strict procedural guidelines when searching an individual’s belongings, which may include a phone, computer, home, or place of work. Failing to obey these guidelines could cause key evidence to be suppressed or thrown out. Additionally, any statements made in violation of a person’s Miranda rights cannot be admitted in court to establish guilt. Hence, submitting to the court various pre-trial and trial motions (such as motions in limine and motions to suppress) could demonstrate the weaknesses in the government’s case. This can assist in the granting of an acquittal or give the defense the leverage necessary to negotiate a fair plea bargain.
Fort Walton Child Pornography Defense Attorneys Ready to Fight for You
Call Musca Law 24/7 at (888) 484-5057 and schedule your free initial consultation to learn how our law firm can protect your rights. Do not delay. Your freedom and liberty are too valuable to wait and see what happens. Contact our Fort Walton Beach Criminal Defense Lawyers now to learn more about how we can make a difference for you.