Tallahassee Sex Crime Defense Lawyers
Although all sex crimes in Tallahassee, Florida, are considered serious offenses, those involving children are prosecuted and penalized most aggressively. There are a number of offenses that fall under the category of sex crimes against children, so if you have questions about your own charges, it is important to consult with an experienced Tallahassee sex crime defense lawyer who can walk you through the elements of the crime and explain all of your possible defenses.
Tallahassee Child Pornography Attorneys
Florida law strictly prohibits the possession of any image, video, or other types of depiction that shows a minor engaged in sexual conduct. However, before a person can be convicted of possessing child pornography under Fla. Stat. 827.071, prosecutors must demonstrate that the images in question actually depict sexual conduct, which is defined as actual or simulated sexual intercourse, masturbation, lewd exhibition, physical contact with the genitals or breasts, or sexual battery. Furthermore, it is not necessary for prosecutors to provide evidence that a defendant physically possessed images, only that he or she intentionally viewed them, which requires proof that:
- The defendant viewed more than one image over a specific period of time; and
- The defendant took action to save the images or knew that they would automatically be saved.
It is also not uncommon for those who have been accused of possessing child pornography to be charged with other related offenses, such as possession with the intent to distribute the images. In fact, a person is presumed to be involved in the distribution of child pornography if three or more copies of a single depiction are found in their possession. This can have serious consequences, as distribution is charged as a second-degree felony, while possession is a third-degree felony. Similarly, defendants could also face charges of promoting the sexual performance of a child if there is evidence that they were involved in the manufacturing, publishing, or distributing of child pornography. Finally, a defendant could be charged under Fla. Stat. §847.0137 if he or she used the internet during the transmission.
Defendants have the right to raise a number of defenses, which could include arguing that they were not the ones who actually downloaded and viewed the images, but used a shared computer, or that the images don’t qualify as child pornography. Having the advice of a Tallahassee sex crime defense attorney is crucial in these kinds of cases, as raising certain defenses is prohibited under Florida law.
Tallahassee Sexual Abuse Attorneys
Most cases of sexual abuse are prosecuted under the sexual battery law. When the victim is a minor, however, defendants can be charged under Fla. Stat. 800.04 for child molestation, although they can only be convicted if prosecutors can prove that the defendant committed a lewd act upon the body of or in the presence of a minor. This includes both engaging in sexual activity with someone between the ages of 12 and 16 years old, and encouraging or forcing a minor to engage in this type of activity. To satisfy the definition of sexual activity, a defendant’s act must involve oral, vaginal, or anal penetration, or he or she cannot be charged under the statute.
There are a variety of defenses available to those who have been charged with child molestation, but defendants are prohibited from raising certain defenses, including that:
- The minor had a reputation for promiscuity;
- The minor consented to the activity;
- They were not aware of the minor’s age;
- The minor lied to the defendant about his or her age; or
- They had a bona fide belief that the minor was an adult.
The penalties faced by a defendant accused of this defense depends primarily on the ages of the parties involved, so if a defendant was over the age of 18 years old and allegedly abused someone under the age of 12 years old, he or she faces life imprisonment, while a defendant under the age of 18 years old who had sexual contact with a teenager between the ages of 12 and 16 years old would be charged with a third-degree felony.
Tallahassee Solicitation of a Minor Lawyers
Florida law prohibits residents from using the internet or an electronic device to solicit a minor to engage in sexual conduct. Under Fla. Stat. 847.0135, a defendant who is accused of committing this offense could face separate charges for each time he or she used an online service to solicit a minor, which means that if a defendant used a chat room to solicit a minor on ten different occasions, he or she can be charged for each conversation.
In the event that a defendant actually attempts to meet up with a minor for the purpose of participating in sexual activity after using an online service to speak with that minor, he or she could face additional second-degree felony charges.
Possible Defenses Against Sex Crime Charges
Regardless of the kind of sex crime charges that you might be looking at right now, the state of Florida is legally bound to secure proof of each component of the alleged crime if they have any hope of being able to secure your conviction. At Musca Law, we will fully examine and fight the charges that the state feels they have against you. This includes reviewing any statements given by the alleged victim as well as any comments made by any witnesses that might have come forward.
Criminal defense against sex crime charges is regularly built on determinants such as:
- False allegations
- False witness statements
- Faulty forensic testing methods and calculations
- Prosecution, witness, or law enforcement bias
- Mistaken identity or a flawed police line-up (did not follow protocol)
- Inappropriate misleading witness interviews (leading or tainting the witness)
At the core of most adult sex crime cases is the matter of consent. Our clients routinely admit to engaging in the sexual act in question but hold fast to their faith that the sex was agreed upon by both people involved, meaning it was entirely consensual. Ordinarily, as the offender is questioned again and again, the story that the alleged victim told to law enforcement and to their attorneys concerning this sex act shifts as the case gets closer to trial, and the possible consequences of the charge they are trying to levy against you starts to get very real and false allegations are often taken back.
Sex-related crimes that are perpetrated against children are deemed to be strict liability crimes. In all strict liability cases, whether or not consent was given is entirely pointless due to the fact that Florida state law regards an underage child as not being able to fully understand the act of sex and all of its potential repercussions, so they are also perceived as not being able to truly give their permission.
By and large, cases that include sexually motivated criminal acts come down to which person’s account of the events that ensued is more convincing. In the vast majority of cases, there is always an opening to prove to the state that justice would be better served by decreasing the charge to a lesser crime and/or reducing the suggested penalty. If it is determined that the case made by the state does not prove the charges against you, then they could quite likely get tossed out or beaten during the trial.
In a sex crimes case, sometimes a plea bargain becomes essential for the best interests of our client. If this turns out to be the case, our astute criminal defense attorneys will thoroughly examine whether or not taking a plea deal is truly the best thing for your position. We will absolutely ensure that you are fully apprised about all possible aftereffects of any negotiation that we might encourage you to enter.
Our Tallahassee attorneys will pursue the result that is the most advantageous to you, regardless of what the details of your case may be. We will also make certain that you fully comprehend everything that we do on your behalf and everything that is going on every step of the way as your case progresses.
While the state of Florida law does not criminalize the sending or the taking of sexually graphic pictures between two consenting adults, it does prevent those who are underage from engaging in this behavior. Clearly directed at teenagers, Florida’s sexting law outlines an effort by state representatives to show minors the weight of sharing these kinds of pictures with other people, while also providing them with a chance to learn from their mistakes. Recuring infractions will give teenagers a criminal record, so it is imperative that teenagers in Tallahassee know all of the nuances of Florida’s sexting laws
In Florida, a minor can be charged with sexting if he or she knowingly uses a computer or another device that is capable of electronic data transmission to send a photograph or video of any person to another minor if that image:
- Depicts nudity
- Is harmful to minors
Florida state defines nudity as the showing of specific parts of the body, including the genitals, pubic area, or buttocks if they are covered by material that is less than fully opaque. Showing the female breast with a transparent covering or revealing an area below the top of the nipple also falls under this category, unless the subject is breastfeeding. Finally, any depiction of the male genitals in a turgid state is considered nudity for the purposes of the sexting statute.
In addition to the image being nude, prosecutors must also demonstrate that an image is harmful to minors, which includes any reproduction, representation, or description that depicts nudity, sexual excitement, or sexual conduct when it:
- Predominantly appeals to a prurient or shameful interest
- Is patently offensive
- Is without serious literary, political, artistic, or scientific value for minors
A minor can also be convicted under the sexting law if he or she is caught in possession of this type of video or photo. However, those who did not solicit the image, took reasonable steps to report it to a parent, guardian, school official, or law enforcement officer, and did not transmit the photo to anyone else, will not be prosecuted.
Even if a minor sent or received multiple photos or videos that depict a nude teen, he or she will still only be charged with a single offense, as long as the images were sent within the same 24 hour period. Otherwise, he or she may face multiple charges and harsher penalties.
When Do I Need to Hire a Sex Crimes Attorney?
You can feel like the bottom just dropped out of your world when you find out that you are being charged with a sex crime. You may even think that all hope is lost but this is not always the case. Being charged with a crime and being convicted of a crime are two very different things. In order to look out for your best interests, it is imperative that you take prompt and decisive measures to secure your future. Your smartest course of action, in the event that you have already been arrested, is to meet with a Tallahassee sex crimes defense attorney. If you think that you might be under investigation for a sex crime, then the most prudent thing that you can do is to safeguard your rights, your freedom, and your reputation, and the best way to accomplish that is to immediately retain the services of a criminal defense attorney who specializes in Florida sex crimes.
At Musca Law, we understand how dire this situation could be for you, and we view it as our duty to stand by you in resolving it while keeping your best interests in the forefront of our minds. Allegations of sexual offenses can instantly ruin your good name and confront you with degrading obstacles long before your case even sees the inside of a courtroom. We are here to protect your rights and to defend you. We firmly believe that you are innocent until proven guilty, and we are here to guide you and use our legal proficiency to build you the most compelling defense possible. If you or someone you love is facing such charges, do not hesitate to contact our law office today to schedule a free, no-obligation, and confidential case assessment with one of our experienced defense attorneys.