Child Pornography Defense Lawyers in Key West, Florida
Prosecutors in Key West, Florida, treat all alleged crimes involving child pornography very seriously. After all, the black-market trade of photographs and videos depicting minors (children under the age of 18) in a sexual manner is, without question, extremely harmful to children. However, while any participation in conduct involving child pornography is wrong and illegal, many offenders accused of child pornography crimes in Key West, Florida, are arrested after “sting” operations that do not always tell the whole story.
Many people have unknowingly come across child pornography, and even one visit to a website – whether such a website is on the “dark web” or not – can be enough for law enforcement officials to go after a person. While child pornography is horrific, many offenders are accused and convicted of conduct that does not fit the crime. For example, if a person accidentally clicks on a link that takes him/her to a child pornography website, details of that website will show up on the person’s website history (even if deleted from a web browser’s settings). Overall, a lot is on the line for both offenders and victims when dealing with child pornography crimes in Key West, Florida.
Musca Law – Key West, Florida Child Pornography Defense Lawyers – Working for You
At Musca Law, our Key West Child Pornography Defense Attorneys understand just how serious child pornography charges can be under Florida law. Our legal team knows that child pornography is not a topic many people want to talk about, and with good reason. However, no matter how difficult the subject matter may be, any person facing child pornography charges must act quickly to preserve his or her legal rights. Without an attorney, any person accused of crimes involving child pornography does not have a good fighting chance in court.
Musca Law is not afraid to take on tough criminal cases. Regardless of the severity of the crime, all offenders are afforded the right to legal counsel. The more severe the crime, the stronger that legal counsel needs to be. While public defenders in Key West, Florida can help many individuals fight criminal charges in court, when it comes to serious crimes involving child pornography, it is better to work alongside an attorney or law firm that has sufficient resources to take on the prosecution until the end.
Many public defenders are excellent attorneys. However, their resources are limited. Having limited resources makes it difficult for public defenders to fight to the end in every single case. Instead, public defenders must reach the fairest result for their clients, given the lack of resources to fully litigate and defend a case. As such, when facing severe criminal charges in Key West that can result in the conviction of felonies carrying hefty prison sentences, the best decision is to choose legal representation from a firm like Musca Law that is ready at any time to fight to the fullest extent possible to protect a client’s constitutional rights.
Child Pornography Criminal Charges in Key West, Florida
Under Florida law, and pursuant to Statute Section 847.001(3), child pornography is defined as “any image depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct.” Such an image can be a photograph, video, or any other means of depicting a minor under the age of eighteen in a sexual nature. Child pornography leads to many different crimes that all carry severe consequences. Such crimes include, among others, possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, exposing children to pornography, and manufacturing or producing child pornography. Prosecutors are likely to seek the harshest penalties possible when charging someone with any crimes related to child pornography.
Possessing Child Pornography in Key West, Florida
While no person should ever be convicted of a crime if there is insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, many accused persons are charged and convicted of crimes they did not commit. This is especially the case for child pornography crimes in Key West, where many people presume an accused person is guilty of the alleged crime if the crime in question involves child pornography. A commonly charged crime related to child pornography is the possession of child pornography.
Florida law has a broad definition of what constitutes possession of child pornography. Florida Statute Section 827.071(4) states that it is a crime to “knowingly possess, control, or intentionally view a photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, image, data, computer depiction, or other presentation which, in whole or in part, he or she knows to include any sexual conduct by a child.” The prosecution must prove each element of the crime. As such, prosecutors must present evidence that shows the accused person “knew” he or she possessed materials of a sexual nature involving a minor.
The same statute goes on to state that “possession, control, or intentional viewing of such photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, image, data, computer depiction, representation, or presentation is a separate offense.” Therefore, possession can quickly escalate into multiple possession charges that may also lead to distribution charges depending on the number of images in one’s possession.
Possession takes on two forms – constructive and actual. With constructive possession, a person is deemed to have control over an object, even if the object is not controlled in a physical manner. The person must have the ability to exercise dominion and control over the property, even if not in physical form. On the other hand, actual possession is when a person has control and dominion over an object in physical form. It is much easier to prove actual control than constructive control as actual control obviates the need to prove an accused person could exercise dominion and control over the object.
Each act of possessing one image or depiction of child pornography is considered a third-degree felony. Each third-degree felony may result in a jail sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000. If a person faces multiple possession charges, the penalties will add up, so two acts of possession could result in ten years of prison time and a fine of up to $10,000 and so on. Additionally, if someone faces multiple possession charges, he or she is likely to face child pornography distribution charges as well.
When Federal Law Applies – Facing Federal Charges in Key West, Florida
A person facing child pornography charges in Key West may face only state-level crimes whereby state prosecutors will pursue the case at trial. On the other hand, a person may face both state charges and federal charges. United States federal law applies when child pornography travels across state lines, which can happen via the internet, mail/freight (U.S. Mail, Federal Express, UPS, etc.), or any other means of getting child pornography out of the state of Florida. Any child pornography that leaves a state’s jurisdiction is subject to federal law, and therefore, prosecution of child pornography crimes by the United States Attorney’s Office. If convicted of possessing child pornography under federal law, a person faces up to fifteen years in federal prison.
The Exposure of Pornography to Minor Children in Key West, Florida
Child pornography crimes in Key West are not limited to possession, distribution, and production. An additional criminal charge that many individuals are not familiar with is the exposure of pornography to a minor under the age of eighteen years old. Under Florida law, if a person exposes pornographic material to a minor, he or she faces a first-degree misdemeanor, which may result in one year of jail time and a monetary fine of $1,000. It is essential to keep in mind that pornographic material is not limited to depictions of minors. Any pornographic material – whether involving minors or adults – if exposed to minors, results in criminal charges.
Distribution or Promotion of Child Pornography in Key West, Florida
Distributing or promoting child pornography in Key West, Florida, has the potential to result in harsh criminal penalties. Florida Statute Section 827.071(d) defines promote (for the purpose of child pornography) as: “to procure, manufacture, issue, sell, give, provide, lend, mail, deliver, transfer, transmute, publish, distribute, circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, or advertise or to offer or agree to do the same.” A person alleged to have promoted or distributed child pornography by any means may be found guilty of the crime of “use of a child in a sexual performance,” which is a second-degree felony. Conviction leads to jail time of up to ten years and the imposition of a fine of up to $10,000.
The Manufacture of Child Pornography in Key West, Florida
In Florida, a person found guilty of manufacturing child pornography faces a second-degree felony, which carries a jail sentence of up to ten years and a fine of up to $10,000. Much like the distribution of child pornography, the manufacture of child pornography encompasses the production and/or direction of pornographic material involving children under the age of eighteen years.
Key West Prosecutors Will Seek the Harshest Sentencing Allowable for Child Pornography Crimes
Once a person has been convicted of, or pleads guilty to any crime involving child pornography, judges typically impose harsh sentences, including substantial jail time, significant fines, long-term probation, and the mandatory requirement to register as a sex offender. Florida judges in Key West have discretion on how to sentence individuals facing conviction. For example, a judge has the discretion to have two jail sentences run concurrently or to have two jail sentences run one after another (such that a person may serve a total of ten years for two crimes with a sentence of five years each).
A more extreme – but not inconceivable – example is when a person is charged with hundreds of counts of possession of child pornography. Conviction of each crime carries a jail sentence of up to five years. As such, a particularly harsh judge may slam a convicted individual with a jail sentence that exceeds one hundred years. Of course, the severity of conduct will play a role in a judge’s decision-making process when it comes time to sentence an individual. Because the sentencing process is just as critical to an accused individual’s rights as the steps prior to conviction, the risk of facing decades in jail is one very important reason why it is critical to work with an experienced and skilled Key West Child Pornography Defense Lawyer.
The Federal Prosecution of Child Pornography Crimes in Key West, Florida
All child pornography crimes in Florida have the potential to quickly become federal child pornography crimes. Under both Florida and federal law, child pornography crimes (apart from exposing a minor to pornography) are classified as felonies. Additionally, the penalties for a conviction under federal law are often more severe than they are for conviction under Florida state law. As such, an accused person needs a strong defense to fight severe crimes that can land a person in jail for the rest of his or her life.
Federal law will come into play if child pornography is transmitted or carried across state lines. Whenever an item or object leaves the state of Florida either electronically or physically (such as via the internet, U.S. Mail, Federal Express, UPS, etc.), a person facing child pornography charges may be facing additional federal crimes. Even without the intent to distribute or transmit child pornography outside the state of Florida, doing so may result in felonies that land a person in federal prison for fifteen or more years. Like judges in Key West, federal judges have discretion when sentencing convicted individuals so long as any sentence falls within the federal sentencing guidelines.
Defending Child Pornography Charges in Monroe County, Florida
All individuals facing child pornography charges in Key West, whether such charges are at the state level or federal level, or both, deserve a strong defense when fighting the prosecution in court. As with most crimes, defenses exist that, if presented at trial, can (1) poke holes in the prosecution’s case, and (2) show the jury that reasonable doubt exists that the accused person committed the alleged crimes. A variety of defenses exist that a qualified Key West Child Pornography Defense Lawyer may present, which include, but may not be limited to, the following:
Child Erotica – When pleading the defense of child erotica, the accused person is telling a court and jury that the images at issue do not meet the definition of child pornography. Instead, child erotica involves a child who may be partially naked or unclothed, and even if depicted in a somewhat sexually suggestive manner, the child is not engaging in a lewd or lascivious act.
Unknowing or Unwitting Possession – Another defense that is often presented at trial is that the accused person did not intentionally possess child pornography. All child pornography crimes require specific intent and knowledge that the images in question depict children under the age of eighteen. A person who accidentally opens a file containing child pornography does not have the requisite intent or knowledge. If the person discovers that he or she accidentally opened a file containing child pornography, and he or she immediately locates and deletes the file, he or she can present an affirmative defense to the crime of possession of child pornography.
The Images in Question Do Not Depict Children – If a person facing child pornography charges can submit evidence proving or tending to prove that the individual(s) depicted in a sexually suggestive image is eighteen years of age or older, he or she may have a solid defense that can result in dismissal of criminal charges or a verdict of “not guilty.”
When Constitutional Violations Lead to the Dismissal of Key West Child Pornography Charges
A highly skilled Key West Child Pornography Defense Lawyer will immediately evaluate all facts of a person’s case from the probable cause statement, to the time of arrest and charging of child pornography crimes. If law enforcement officials make any mistake along the way that violates the accused person’s constitutional rights, grounds may exist to dismiss all criminal charges, regardless of the content of the underlying evidence supporting the criminal charges.
For example, if law enforcement officials illegally obtained evidence to support criminal charges, such evidence will be thrown out in court, dismissing all pending charges. Additionally, if a police officer fails to read a defendant his or her Miranda rights, anything the defendant says cannot be used against him or her in a court of law. Some attorneys may not catch mistakes law enforcement officials make, which can wrongfully send a person to jail. As such, choosing a qualified Key West Child Pornography Defense Attorney from the start is crucial to ensure all aspects of a case are discovered before a person’s case is put before a jury. With the right attorney, many accused individuals can prevail if anything suggests the prosecuting team has violated an accused person’s constitutional rights.
Key West Child Pornography Defense Attorneys – Fighting for Your Rights
To learn how Musca Law can help you fight serious criminal charges involving child pornography, contact our office 24/7 at (888) 484-5057 for your free consultation. Because your legal rights are on the line, you must act quickly to seek the advice of a qualified Key West Criminal Defense Attorney.