Child Pornography Defense Lawyers in Punta Gorda, Florida
Law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Florida, and Punta Gorda specifically, frequently conduct undercover sting operations to infiltrate child pornography distribution rings. Florida law enforcement agencies have been particularly successful in identifying people who share images that could be considered child pornography as well as those people who merely possess pornographic images of children. Investigators also pursue the individuals who create child pornography and send it out to the world.
Federal, state, and local investigators and prosecutors will use all of the tools they have at their collective disposal to bring people who possess child pornography, distributing child pornography, or create child pornography to justice. Therefore, anyone who gets caught up in a child pornography investigation in Punta Gorda, Florida, needs to be aware of the potential crimes they could face along with the maximum punishments a judge in Punta Gorda, Florida, could impose after a conviction.
People charged with crimes related to child pornography in Punta Gorda, Florida must also be assured that a knowledgeable, experienced, and accomplished Punta Gorda child pornography defense attorney could create a defense strategy that either exonerates the accused or receives a lesser sentence after successfully plea bargaining the case to less-serious charges.
Every person is entitled to a strong and passionate defense of their rights when facing criminal charges. The federal constitution and the Florida state constitution guarantee the right to a fair trial and a lawyer for their defense if they cannot afford one. Less experienced lawyers have not developed the necessary skill to defend child pornography allegations in many instances, and the local public defenders’ office is overwhelmed with cases of all types. As a result, a case of the magnitude of a child pornography case might not get the attention it deserves. Viable defenses might be overlooked or not pursued because the lawyer lacked the knowledge or had insufficient resources to devote to defending the case.
Instead of comprising, contact Musca Law’s Punta Gorda child pornography defense attorneys today at 888-484-5057 to learn how they could develop a winning defense strategy. Musca Law’s child pornography defense lawyers have combined 150-plus years of experience devoted to defending the constitutionally-protected rights of people accused of committing crimes such as possession, distribution, or creation of child pornography. Some might see these charges as disgusting. However, each case starts with an allegation, and that is all. Allegations are not the same as proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Musca Law is uniquely positioned to fight vigorously on behalf of anyone charged with child pornography offenses in Punta Gorda, Florida. By aligning with a law firm that has tremendous resources coupled with vast criminal ligation experience, a person facing charges relating to child pornography will have the defense envisioned by the drafters of the U.S. and Florida constitutions. However, taking a wait-and-see attitude is dangerous. Therefore, any person who learns that he or she could be implicated in an investigation concerning child pornography must contact Musca Law immediately.
Punta Gorda Child Pornography Allegations
Savvy child pornography investigators are constantly searching the internet for links to child pornography websites. Some law enforcement agencies, especially the federal agencies, use highly sophisticated investigatory techniques to acquire evidence and build a case. They will push the boundaries of constitutional limits to obtain the evidence they need. Law enforcement officers need to get evidence amounting to probable cause to make an arrest for child pornography offenses. Also, probable cause is all the police need to obtain search warrants to comb through computers, cellphones, tablets, and other digital devices. In other words, with only a small amount of evidence, a police officer could turn a person’s life upside-down.
Moreover, well-trained and highly-motivated prosecutors will fight aggressively for convictions and long prison sentences for people charged with child pornography offenses. Law enforcement investigators and prosecutors work hand-in-glove to assemble a case that will lead to a conviction. However, prosecutors are allowed to seek any charge for which they have a good-faith basis to believe they can win. That means the prosecutors can increase the number and severity of the charges a person faces with little evidence. Many prosecutors know that the more charges that a person faces, the greater the likelihood that they win a conviction on at least one of them.
Thankfully, the constitution stands in the way of an automatic conviction. It is difficult to believe that in this day and age, a person who is facing a serious crime is assumed guilty when the exact opposite is true. Even a person charged with crimes that make some people cringe like child pornography allegations enjoy the benefit of the presumption of innocence.
The presumption of innocence separates this country from most others, and it is not an idle, academic theory. The presumption of innocence necessarily means that every person who faces a criminal charge is not guilty and remains in that state of innocence unless and until the prosecution — who always bears the burden of proof — admits sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption of evidence with proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard is lofty because our country is founded on the notion that the government cannot take away a person’s liberty without a substantial amount of evidence that a jury (or judge if the defendant elects to have a bench trial) is satisfied to a moral certainty that the charge is true.
People who are called to sit on a jury might experience a gut reaction that the person accused of a crime like possession of child pornography is guilty without hearing a shred of evidence. The presumption of innocence prevents that from occurring. Many people do not even realize they prejudge a case when they first hear the charges, but when the jury listens to the judge’s instructions concerning the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof, they might begin to realize prejudging the case based on the charges alone was a mistake.
Having a tough, proven, and seasoned Punta Gorda child pornography defense attorney from Musca Law fight to preserve the presumption of innocence could mean the difference between walking away from court or serving a long prison term. Of course, no lawyer could predict how a case turns out. However, a person facing child pornography charges in Punta Gorda, Florida, could be assured that he or she will receive a fierce defense and all of the protections the U.S. justice system has to offer by seeking advice from Musca Law’s Punta Gorda child pornography defense attorneys. The best defense begins with a phone call to Musca Law at 888-484-5057.
Possession of Child Pornography
Child pornography, according to Florida Statues §847.001, refers to the depiction of a person younger than eighteen years of age participating in sexual activity. The child could be alone, with an adult, or with another child. Child pornography can appear in all types of visual media, such as photographs, digital images, movies, and films.
Possession of child pornography is a serious criminal offense. In Florida, possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony. The maximum potential penalty is a five-year state prison sentence and a $5,000.00 fine. Florida law allows law enforcement to charge one count of possession of child pornography for every image in possession of the accused. Moreover, Florida law also allows the sentencing judge to order that the accused if convicted, must serve a sentence for each image, and all sentences should run consecutively. Therefore, a person convicted of ten counts of child pornography, for example, could serve 50 years in prison.
Not only could the sentencing judge impose consecutive sentences, but the judge can also order the offender to complete a term of probation after release from incarceration. The probationary period could have very strict orders like sex abuse counseling, stay-away orders, no contact provisions, and no internet usage except for business purposes.
A conviction for possession of child pornography has other implications as well. Generally, a person convicted of possessing child pornography must register as a convicted sex offender. Moreover, the state could pursue an involuntary commitment to the state hospital after the offender’s prison sentence expires as a sexual predator or dangerous person.
Federal law also outlaws possession of child pornography. A host of federal agencies work with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Florida to identify and punish people who possess child pornography. Federal authorities obtain jurisdiction to prosecute child pornography offenses when unlawful images are transmitted in some way that involves a federal agency like the U.S. Postal Service or internet service. However, images shipped via private shipping companies could fall into federal jurisdiction if the images crossed state lines during transit.
Federal child pornography laws are much stricter than Florida law in some respects. A conviction for just one image of child pornography in a federal court is punishable by a sentence no longer fifteen years in federal prison.
Exposing a Minor Child to Pornography
Showing pornography to a child is a criminal offense in Florida. Although possession of images depicting adults in sexual acts is lawful to possess, displaying it to a child is not. Florida law creates a first-degree misdemeanor offense, which carries a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine not greater than $1,000.00, for exposing a minor to pornography. A subsequent offense constitutes a third-degree felony with a maximum prison sentence of five years. A conviction for exposing a minor to any pornography is an offense that requires registration as a sex offender in Florida.
Distributing Child Pornography
Distributing child pornography is an incredibly serious offense at the state and federal levels. The maximum prison sentence for a conviction of distributing child pornography is fifteen years as a second-degree felony. The penalty also carries a maximum fine of $10,000.00, as well.
Distribution of child pornography could be shown with proof of various methods of distribution. The prosecution could convict a person charged with distribution of child pornography by proving the accused knowingly distributed, produced, advertised, or dispensed any visual image that displays a child engaged in a sex act.
Distributors of child pornography are difficult to identify and prosecute. When law enforcement agents arrest someone for distribution, the prosecution customarily seeks the maximum prison sentence available for that charge. However, proof of distribution is difficult to acquire because of the various technological advances made in recent years. Law enforcement agents are closing the knowledge and resource gap quickly.
Manufacturing Child Pornography
Manufacturing child pornography is a second-degree felony in Florida. The person convicted of manufacturing child pornography will face up to fifteen years in the Florida state prison. The maximum sentence for a conviction of the manufacturing of child pornography in the federal criminal justice system is even more severe. The maximum sentence a federal judge could impose after a conviction for manufacturing child pornography is 30 years, with a fifteen-year minimum-mandatory sentence.
Manufacturing child pornography is either creating imagery that depicts a child engaged in a sex act. Additionally, proof of manufacturing child pornography could take the form of soliciting someone to participate in creating child pornography. The state does not have to show that the child was on a movie set. Taking a video on a cellphone camera of a child engaged in a sex act could be sufficient to charge a person with manufacturing child pornography.
Other Charges Associated with Child Pornography Offenses
As discussed above, police and prosecutors could bring any criminal charge for which there is probable cause. Therefore, any number of charges could be combined with child pornography offenses, without limitation. Practically speaking, possession of child pornography investigations can also lead to arrests for offenses such as rape, sexual battery of a minor, sexual assault, fondling of a minor, as well as lewd and lascivious acts committed with a minor. These charges arise because children in Florida who are younger than sixteen years of age cannot legally consent to sexual activity. Even if the person utters words to indicate consent, the words do not matter if spoken by a child of tender years. A savvy and experienced Punta Gorda, Florida, criminal defense lawyer will understand how to use the words of the young participant to help the accused achieve justice even though consent is not a defense.
Collateral Issues Associated with Child Pornography Offenses in Charlotte County, Florida
The person convicted of a sex offense, including possession of child pornography, must register as a convicted sex offender. The convicted offender will be subjected to a classification system that could require annual registration. Additionally, the convicted offender could have his or her image publicly distributed or conspicuously posted.
The state attorney could also seek an involuntary commitment to the state hospital for a person convicted of a sex crime if the person poses a substantial threat to re-offend. A court would then sentence the individual to incarceration in a state treatment facility as a sexual predator even though the person’s prison sentence would have ended.
Other collateral consequences exist, as well. A non-citizen should expect to be the subject of removal proceedings in immigration court after a conviction for any offense associated with child pornography, even if the person is legally in the country. Additionally, a convicted sex offender may be required to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet and will be subject to orders to stay away from locations where children could be found, such as parks, schools, and libraries.
Defending Child Pornography Allegations
Defenses are case-specific: the defense that might work in one case, might not work in any other. Therefore, the best defense is one that fits the facts of the case. Only a highly-experienced and proven Punta Gorda, Florida, child pornography defense lawyer with significant trial skills could develop a defense strategy geared to challenge the government’s evidence.
One of the most commonly argued defenses is the “reasonable doubt defense.” The reasonable doubt defense involves contesting all of the government’s evidence aggressively and arguing to the jury that the evidence is weak, there are questions about the investigation, the evidence connecting the accused to the contraband is weak, or the credibility of the witnesses is questionable, at best.
Possession, under Florida law, is not the equivalent of ownership. Ownership means a person holds legal title to a piece of property against all other claims for ownership against that piece of property. Possession, on the other hand, is the ability to exercise dominion and control over an object. However, possession must be shown to be knowing and intentional. Therefore, transient or temporary possession is not enough for a conviction.
Additionally, unintentional possession of an image of child pornography could be a defense as well. Images are sometimes attached to files and downloaded without the user’s knowledge. Therefore, if discovered and quickly deleted without redistributing is a viable defense.
Arguing that the image in question is erotica is also a viable defense. This defense is highly nuanced and could apply in a small number of cases. Erotica is posing in the nude but not engaging in a sexual act. Erotica depicting a child is not child pornography.
Attacking law enforcement’s use of search and seizure tactics can also provide a viable defense. Anytime the police seize an item of contraband, the rights of the accused might be implicated. Therefore, arguing that the police violated the constitutional rights of the accused to be free from unlawful searches and seizures is often a successful defense tactic. Similarly, arguing that the statement made by the accused to the police must be suppressed because of a Miranda violation is another method of attacking the police investigation.
Finally, entrapment could be a viable defense. Entrapment involves the police overbearing a person’s will and forcing that person to commit a crime. Investigators often force their way into child pornography rings by unlawfully inducing someone to locate the contraband and then prosecuting that person for possessing or distributing child pornography. In those circumstances, the defense of entrapment could be successful.
Aggressive Representation When You Need It Most
Contact Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 to engage an aggressive, knowledgeable, and accomplished Punta Gorda defense lawyer. Find out how Musca Law could help you preserve your freedom and liberty.