Child Pornography Defense Lawyer in New Port Richey, Florida
Fighting Pasco County Child Pornography Charges
Sex crimes perpetrated against children are heavily prosecuted in the State of Florida. As such, the State’s Attorney typically seeks the most severe punishment for the accused. If you have been charged with a child pornography-related crime, it is essential that you speak with a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, as there may be defenses that apply to your case. Keep in mind that the defenses available depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case.
If a person is convicted of a child pornography-related crime, he or she could face a prison term, monetary penalties, as well as having to register as a sex offender. Once a prison sentence ends and probation begins, the offender faces additional consequences such as social stigma, as well as difficulty in finding gainful employment and suitable housing.
In some cases, people can face false accusations of child pornography charges. These individuals should never be under the assumption that they will be treated in a fair manner or that their innocence will be apparent once they tell their side of the story. Notwithstanding, a person facing charges in this regard still has legal rights. That is why it is critical to work with a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney so that the legal proceedings and investigation are conducted in a manner that is fair and just.
From the onset of the investigation, an accused should know that he or she has a right to remain silent as well as the right to refuse to submit to a search of their property without a warrant.
The accused can help improve their case by seeking defense counsel as soon as they can, which ensures that their rights and interests are protected during each stage of their case.
If you are facing child pornography charges in New Port Richey, Florida, it is essential that you contact the seasoned criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law. Call us now at 1 (888) 484-5057 to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Types of Child Pornography Crimes in New Port Richey, Florida
There are several crimes in Florida that fall under the umbrella of child pornography. Each crime varies in terms of the consequences, which is why defendants need to be knowledgeable as to the specific crime they are accused of and how to properly defend themselves. These crimes are as follows:
Exposing a Minor to Pornography: As defined under Florida State Statute Section 847.013, this crime occurs when a person exposes a minor to a video, exhibition, image, or movie containing child pornography. If convicted, the accused faces a first-degree misdemeanor charge. The associated sentence for this offense includes a prison term of up to one year and a monetary fine of $1,000. The prison term and fines associated with this crime are enhanced should the accused be a repeat offender.
Possession of Child Pornography: Under Florida Statute Section 847.001(16), the possession of child pornography is charged when an individual possesses or downloads content that depicts a minor (a child under the age of 18) engaged in sexual conduct. If an individual shares the content with another individual, the prison term can be enhanced. A conviction for possession of child pornography can result in a prison term for up to 5 years. An individual may also face federal charges.
Distribution of Child Pornography: If a person dispersed, directed, produced, or advertised videos and/or images of child pornography, he or she can face a distribution of child pornography charge. In order to prevail on this charge, the prosecutor must prove that the accused had knowledge that the videos or images depicted a minor, and distributed them anyway. If convicted of this offense, an individual may face a prison term of up to 15 years plus hefty monetary fines. The individual will also be forced to register as a sex offender once their prison term has ended.
Transmission of Child Pornography: This is an offense that involves a person delivering or sending images, data, or information from one source to another through using the internet or electronic devices. Each video, image, or document is treated as an additional charge. If an accused is convicted of this crime, he or she faces a maximum prison sentence of five years as well as a $5,000 fine. After the individual’s prison term ends, he or she will have to register as a sex offender.
Manufacturing of Child Pornography: If a person directs or produces pornographic acts, images, or videos and/or if they solicit children for the production of these depictions, he or she can be charged with this offense. This is associated with a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, monetary fines, and registration on the sex offender registry.
Child Pornography-Related Offenses
An individual who is charged with a child pornography-related crime may, depending upon the facts of the case, face additional criminal charges. Prosecutors take child sex crimes very seriously, and as such, they try to find every possible charge to file against an accused. The additional charges an individual may face are as follows:
- Statutory Rape;
- Lewd behavior with a minor;
- Fondling of a minor;
- The sexual battery of a minor; or
- Other sex act crimes with a minor.
Under federal and state law, children are deemed to not have the ability to consent to sexual acts. Any individual who engages in sexual acts with a minor will face criminal charges. An experienced New Port Richey criminal defense attorney at Musca Law can review the facts of your case and discuss the defenses that may apply thereto.
Sentencing and Penalties
People convicted of child pornography-related crimes can face the following penalties:
- Required registration with the National Sex Offender Registry and the Florida State Registry;
- A prison sentence ranging from five to thirty years; a potential life sentence for repeat offenders;
- Trouble obtaining employment because the registry is public, and many employers will refrain from hiring individuals listed on the registry; and
- Restrictions on their ability to be in the presence of children, which may include their own children.
Florida prosecutors will not tolerate any level of child pornography. Even if the accused has one image or video that is child-pornographic in nature, this will be enough for the prosecutors to file charges.
Federal charges may apply if a person distributes videos, images, or files that contain child pornography through the mail or over the internet. Federal sentencing guidelines allow for penalty enhancements if the images or videos depict children under the age of 12, or if they are masochistic or sadistic in nature.
Aggravated Charges and Enhanced Sentencing
Child pornography charges include mandatory minimum sentencing, but in some cases, the sentence can be enhanced. The following circumstances can lead to aggravated charges and longer sentences:
- A person has in their possession over 4 videos or images that qualify as child pornography;
- Images including sadomasochistic abuse of a minor;
- Any movie depicting sexual acts involving children;
- Images depicting sexual bestiality with a child;
- Images depicting children under the age of five; or
- Images depicting sexual battery of a child.
If a person is convicted of aggravated charges for child pornography, the judge will be able to sentence the person to sex offender probation.
Teen Sexting and Special Circumstances
Recently, children have been engaging in sexting, which has become popular due to teen ownership of smartphones. In many cases, sexting occurs when sexually explicit or naked images are sent between boyfriends and girlfriends or to others who are the same age. Even if all of the parties involved are minors, this is not a defense to this crime. In Florida, child pornography laws are harsh, and sexting, which is a separate criminal act, has similar consequences associated therewith.
When consenting adults engage in this behavior, it is not considered a crime. However, when minors are committing this crime, they may face certain penalties. Both the minor who sent the image and the other minor who has the image in his or her possession can face criminal charges.
A person who received the image without consent can avoid facing criminal penalties if he or she reports the incident to a school official, member of law enforcement, parent, legal guardian, or teacher. If the minor chooses to forward the image to others prior to reporting the crime, then he or she will not be able to avoid prosecution. Sexting can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the facts of each case. Those who are repeat offenders or who committed multiple offenses may face more severe penalties.
Defending Against Child Pornographic
When an individual is charged with a child pornography-related crime, there are a number of different defenses that may apply to his or her case. Specifically, an accused can challenge the factual allegations that have been brought forth against them in an effort to have the charges reduced or dismissed altogether. Some of the frequently applied defenses include the following:
Child Erotica: Not every image depicting minors who are partially or fully naked will be deemed child pornography. There are images that are not lascivious enough to qualify under the law as child pornography, even if they depict minors in sexually suggestive ways.
Transitory Possession: To face a child pornography conviction, an individual must intentionally view the pornographic images or knowingly possess them. There are instances where an individual receives child-pornographic images that they did not request or want. Those who do not want or request child-pornographic images typically erase them. However, such images can remain on their electronic device, even after deleting them. In this set of circumstances, a person can argue that he or she had transitory possession of the images.
Unknowing Possession: There are certain situations where a person receives a virus or their computer or other electronic device gets hacked, causing child-pornographic images to be installed thereon. In response, the defendant may assert that he or she did not know that the images were on his or her computer or other electronic device.
Substantial Assistance: Some defendants who provide substantial assistance to law enforcement in identifying an offender that leads to their arrest and conviction may be able to argue that he or she should be entitled to a reduced sentence or a suspended sentence.
Good Faith Reporting or Destruction: If an individual has no more than three images in his or her possession, and attempts to rid himself or herself of those images, destroys them, or reports them to law enforcement, then said individual can raise this defense. Anyone with four or more images will not be able to avail himself or herself of this defense.
Adult Depiction: This defense is used when the images might appear to include an underage person, but when all individuals depicted are at least eighteen years old or older.
Illegal Evidence Collection: In child pornography cases, police typically search and seize an individual’s personal belongings, including computers and other electronic devices. However, police cannot conduct a search and seizure unless the accused consents or the police procure a valid search warrant. If investigators violated an accused’s rights in this way, the evidence can be thrown out and not used against him or her during his or her criminal proceeding.
Recent Crack Downs on Child Pornography
Over the past five years, law enforcement has been primarily focusing on prosecuting sex offenders. A number of undercover operations in Florida and across the nation reveal that these offenses are on the radar of federal and state investigators.
One recent investigation in the state of Florida made national news. Specifically, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office reports that there were seventeen men charged with child pornography-related crimes. The suspects include two Disney employees and a former school principal. In at least one of the cases, the individual attempted to arrange a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old girl. Police placed the man under arrest at the proposed meeting location.
The ages of the accused range from 19 to 77. In fact, some of the men are facing multiple charges. Police conducted this operation with a special focus on computer-based criminal conduct where they used undercover detectives to locate and positively identify the suspects.
This operation evinces law enforcement’s zero-tolerance approach in attempting to find, locate, and prosecute anyone engaged in a child pornography-related crime.
In some cases, Florida law enforcement has faced substantial criticism for their aggressive manner in seeking to apprehend possible offenders. Some of these operations follow a similar format to NBC Dateline’s series “To Catch a Predator.” This popular program involved operations targeting individuals who were soliciting meetings with minors through chat rooms on the internet. The program ended in 2007 after one man being investigated committed suicide. Critics of the program assert that investigators pushed individuals into seeking sexual encounters with minors rather than trying to apprehend people who pose a greater threat.
Law enforcement notes that they will place anyone under arrest who uses the internet and social media to target minors. While it is critical for children to be protected, there are instances where people are, for various reasons, wrongfully accused.
The recent arrests indicate that the state investigators are not slowing down in their efforts. Anyone facing child pornography charges should immediately speak with a New Port Richey criminal defense attorney in order to preserve their legal rights and interests.
Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help
Child pornography charges in Florida are serious and carry with them severe consequences such as imprisonment, fines, probation, and mandatory sex offender registration. There are also social consequences associated with being labeled a sex offender, which can lead to problems finding housing and gainful employment, and more. As such, if a person is facing child pornography charges, he or she should never take them lightly, even if he or she was wrongfully accused.
Defending against child pornography charges can be challenging and complex, requiring the assistance of a knowledgeable and skilled New Port Richey criminal defense attorney. Keep in mind that the strategies pursued in each case depend upon their facts and circumstances.
Your Life and Liberty Depend Upon It. Contact the Seasoned New Port Richey Criminal Defense Attorneys at Musca Law Today!
Don’t wait to seek qualified counsel to assist you in your New Port Richey child pornography case. Contact a seasoned New Port Richey criminal law attorney now at Musca Law to discuss your New Port Richey, FL DUI case. Call 1 (727) 480-9675 to schedule a free and completely confidential case evaluation.
8520 Government Dr STE 5
New Port Richey, FL 34654
Phone: (727) 480-9675
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