Child Pornography Defense Lawyers in Pensacola, Florida
Anyone facing child pornography charges understands just how devastating the consequences can be if Pensacola prosecutors can secure a conviction. Because of the nature of child pornography, many people presume accused individuals to be guilty from the start, ignoring any other evidence that may refute the prosecution’s case. Child pornography criminal charges in Pensacola are serious not only under Florida state law but also under federal law. Prosecutors in both cases often seek the maximum penalty for individuals convicted at trial.
The safety of children is understandably the most important factor when addressing child pornography crimes. However, regardless of the underlying facts, all individuals facing child pornography charges have the right to defend themselves. Additionally, the protection of an accused person’s constitutional rights is of utmost importance. While some offenders are guilty and deserve jail time, a substantial number of accused persons are either falsely charged with child pornography crimes or are overcharged with crimes that far exceed the alleged conduct at issue.
Many criminal matters result in a guilty plea or conviction even when the facts submitted by prosecutors do not support such results. This may happen when a person takes on a Pensacola or federal prosecutor without an attorney, or perhaps with an attorney who is not sufficiently qualified to handle a child pornography criminal matter. Therefore, anyone facing child pornography criminal charges should consider hiring a Pensacola Child Pornography Defense Attorney who has the track record of helping accused clients successfully defend themselves in court.
The Pensacola Child Pornography Defense Attorneys of Musca Law – Protecting Your Rights
At Musca Law, our Pensacola Child Pornography Defense Lawyers devote their legal careers to representing the rights of accused clients facing tough criminal charges. Musca Law provides legal representation to clients from throughout the state of Florida as well as clients from outside of Florida who may have been charged with committing crimes within this state. Our law firm handles a wide spectrum of criminal matters, including some of the most severe crimes under Florida state law and federal law.
Child pornography criminal charges, such as possession or manufacture of child pornography, are nothing like a misdemeanor drug possession charge or even driving under the influence (DUI). While both drug possession and DUIs can be serious crimes, the consequences of being convicted of child pornography are longer-lasting, as a convicted person forever becomes labeled as a sex offender.
The Pensacola Child Pornography Defense Attorneys thoroughly evaluate each client’s case to determine what the best course of action is to present defenses in court and potentially seek dismissal of criminal charges. By working with Musca Law, accused individuals will be placing their case in the hands of superior legal professionals.
Child Pornography Criminal Charges in Pensacola, Florida
Under Florida Statute Section 847.001(3), child pornography is defined as “any image depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct.” The definition of child pornography covers a broad range of conduct, with some conduct being more severe than other conduct. For example, many people would agree that the possession of a photograph depicting a nude seventeen-year-old in a sexual manner would be less heinous than possessing a video depicting a six-year-old in a sexual manner. Even though child pornography crimes fall along a spectrum, Pensacola prosecutors still may seek the maximum penalties allowable under the law. By overcharging a person, prosecutors have more chances to secure a conviction.
The Possession of Child Pornography in Pensacola, Florida
A commonly charged crime related to child pornography is the possession of child pornography. Possession is often the first of many criminal offenses a person may face in one proceeding. Merely being charged with possession of child pornography in Pensacola can feel like a conviction from the start. Criminal charges and arrests are publicly available information, and one arrest record can ruin a person’s reputation before the prosecution has even proven a case. The unfavorable reality of child pornography crimes in Pensacola is that anyone accused, regardless of the underlying facts, will have an uphill battle. That battle should be fought alongside a reputable and dedicated Pensacola Child Pornography Defense Lawyer.
Under Florida law, Statute Section 827.071(4), it is unlawful 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.” Also, the same Florida statute indicates that “possession, control, or intentional viewing of such photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, image, data, computer depiction, representation, or presentation is a separate offense.” This means that each image is considered one act of possession of child pornography, which is one separate criminal charge.
The possession of one image depicting child pornography can land a person in jail for up to five years. Possession of child pornography under Florida law is a third-degree felony, and in addition to a potential five-year prison sentence, a convicted person faces a fine of up to $5,000, long-term probation, mandatory registration as a sex offender, and a tarnished reputation making it extremely difficult to get a job, attend college, or even find a place to live. If two images are involved, the penalties may be twice as much – up to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Such an outcome may not happen in most cases, but judges have the discretion to sentence convicted individuals to the maximum punishment pursuant to Florida law.
Facing Federal Charges of Possession of Child Pornography in Pensacola, Florida
Child pornography crimes in Pensacola are, without question, serious felonies. However, some child pornography cases catch the attention of federal prosecutors who seek to indict someone on federal charges. Child pornography crimes that happen within the state of Florida are governed by Florida law. When child pornography enters the stream of commerce outside of Florida’s borders (whether via the internet, regular mail – U.S. Mail, UPS, Federal Express, and any other means of travel), the federal government has jurisdiction. In many cases, an accused person could be facing both state and federal charges.
Federal prosecutors will be just as aggressive as Pensacola prosecutors when charging individuals with possession of child pornography. If convicted of federal charges, the offender faces up to fifteen years in prison for just one offense. A prison term could span decades if multiple images allegedly depicting child pornography are at issue. Any attorney representing a client in a child pornography matter must have the advocacy skills and trial experience at both the state and federal level.
Exposing Pornography to Minors in Pensacola, Florida
The crime of exposing a minor to pornography does not fall under the category of “child pornography,” but such conduct is similar enough to require anyone convicted of this crime to register as a sex offender. Exposing a minor to pornography is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida, which can result in jail time of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000. The pornography at issue does not need to depict minors. Regardless of the age of the individual(s) depicted in the pornography, if a person is convicted of exposing any minor under the age of eighteen to such pornography, he or she may be branded a sex offender.
The Distribution/Promotion of Child Pornography in Pensacola, Florida
Distributing and/or promoting child pornography in Pensacola is a more severe crime than possessing child pornography. Additionally, distributing/promoting child pornography, which is using a child in a sexual performance, is often a second criminal offense charged alongside possession of child pornography and/or manufacturing child pornography. Per Florida Statute Section 827.071(d), the word “promote,” in the context of child pornography, means 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.”
If convicted of distributing or promoting child pornography, the convicted individual faces a second-degree felony which carries a jail sentence of up to ten years and the imposition of a fine of up to $10,000 for one offense. If multiple images allegedly depicting child pornography are at issue, the penalty could be twice the jail time and twice the monetary fine. While judges ultimately sentence convicted individuals, Pensacola prosecutors can have a significant influence on how much time a convicted person serves in jail.
Manufacturing Child Pornography in Pensacola, Florida
The manufacture of child pornography, like the distribution or promotion of child pornography, is a more serious crime than possession of child pornography and is often charged alongside possession and/or promotion/distribution charges. If convicted of manufacturing child pornography, a second-degree felony, the offender faces up to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 for each offense. As with the production or promotion of child pornography, multiple images may lead to multiple offenses, which could equate to decades in jail.
Prosecutors in Pensacola Will Seek the Maximum Penalty for Conviction of Child Pornography Crimes
While Pensacola and federal prosecutors can obtain convictions of accused individuals, they do not have the power to sentence these individuals, once convicted. Judges control the sentencing process and have the discretion to utilize Florida law (and federal sentencing guidelines for federal child pornography charges) to sentence a person to jail. Judges do not always make consistent decisions when sentencing convicted individuals. Judges will evaluate a variety of factors when considering what a fair sentence would be. Additionally, both the prosecutors and defense attorneys will submit recommendations to the judge, but ultimately, the judges make the final decisions.
Even though judges should consider both positive and negative factors associated with an individual’s alleged conduct, all accused individuals should always assume that judges could potentially issue the maximum jail sentence allowable under the law, which is what a Pensacola prosecutor is likely to recommend.
In a worst-case-scenario situation, if an individual is convicted of child pornography charges related to multiple images, a judge could sentence that individual to the maximum of five years per image (which is one offense) along with the $5,000 fine for each offense. Five offenses could result in a twenty-five-year jail sentence and $25,000 fine. Because judges have substantial discretion to sentence convicted individuals to whatever punishment they believe fits the crime under state and/or federal law, it is imperative to have a superior Pensacola Child Pornography Defense Lawyer handle the criminal matter from start to finish.
Facing Federal Child Pornography Criminal Charges in Escambia County, Florida
As already discussed, federal law often comes into play when an accused person is facing child pornography criminal charges. Once child pornography leaves the state of Florida (which can happen in a matter of seconds via the internet), federal authorities have jurisdiction over alleged crimes involving child pornography. In addition to federal possession of child pornography charges (whereby a conviction results in potential prison time of fifteen years per image/offense), accused individuals may face numerous other criminal charges, including the distribution and/or manufacture of child pornography.
Accused individuals may face both Florida state charges and federal charges, and while a person cannot be convicted twice of the same crime, accused individuals still must defend themselves against all criminal charges, whether such charges are at the state or federal level. As such, anyone facing child pornography charges should retain a Pensacola Child Pornography Defense Lawyer with extensive experience handling criminal matters against both Florida state and federal prosecutors.
Defending a Pensacola Child Pornography Case – What You Should Know
After being formally charged with child pornography crimes, the next step for most defendants is to plead “not guilty.” In doing so, defense lawyers have an opportunity to review all evidence relied upon by the Pensacola prosecution. Defense lawyers will then use such evidence to develop defenses that, if successful, may lead to the dismissal of criminal charges or a verdict of “not guilty.” However, to develop the best defenses for a given case, accused individuals will need to work alongside attorneys who have a reputation for achieving favorable results for their clients who have faced the same or similar crimes.
A few defenses that an accused person can raise in court in a child pornography case include, but may not be limited to, the following:
Child Erotica – Sexually suggestive images of minors under the age of eighteen who may be partially clothed do not always meet the definition of child pornography under Florida and/or federal law. To be considered child pornography, the images must depict the minors performing some sexual act. Although images of minors in a sexually suggestive manner are unacceptable, an accused person should not face child pornography criminal charges if the images in question are not child pornography as defined in Florida and federal statutes.
Unknowing or Unwitting Possession – A common defense raised by individuals facing child pornography criminal charges is that the accused individuals were unaware that they had come in possession of alleged child pornography. For example, a person may accidentally click on a link from any website that takes the person to another website containing images depicting child pornography. An accidental viewing or downloading of such images can be raised as an affirmative defense to child pornography criminal charges. However, this defense is more successful when there is evidence that the elicit image was immediately deleted.
Pornographic Images Do Not Depict Children – Pensacola and federal prosecutors must establish that the individual(s) depicted in images believed to be child pornography are adults – not minors. To present the defense that the images at issue do not depict children, accused individuals should provide evidence showing or tending to show that the images depict adults and not minors. Such evidence may include, among others, written or oral testimony from the individual(s) depicted in the images allegedly depicting child pornography, and documents (such as a driver’s license or birth certificate) documenting the age of any individual(s) shown in the images.
The Pensacola Child Pornography Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Will Protect Your Rights
All criminal matters implicate a person’s constitutional rights. An unfortunate truth of the criminal justice system is that law enforcement officials and prosecutors at all levels commit acts that violate a defendant’s constitutional rights. In many cases, such violations may be a result of sloppy police work more so than intentional acts to set a person up (although this has happened in many criminal prosecutions).
Common ways in which a person’s constitutional rights may be violated in a child pornography case include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
- Arresting an accused individual without probable cause or a warrant;
- Searching an accused person’s home or personal property (such as a laptop) without a warrant; and
- Failing to read an accused person his or her Miranda rights upon arrest.
Any evidence obtained in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights is not admissible in court. When evidence is inadmissible, Pensacola prosecutors may not have enough evidence to take a child pornography case to trial. A court may grant a defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges, or the prosecution may drop the charges.
Contact the Pensacola Child Pornography Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
If you are facing child pornography charges in Pensacola – regardless of whether such charges are at the state or federal level – you must act quickly to protect your legal rights. At Musca Law, our Pensacola Criminal Defense Lawyers are standing by 24/7 to provide you with guidance and assess your legal situation. To speak with one of our attorneys about your criminal matter, contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057 to schedule your free initial consultation.