Child Pornography Lawyer in Tampa, Florida (FL)
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Child Pornography Crimes in Florida
In Florida, child pornography-related crimes are strictly prosecuted. When an individual has in their possession material that causes harm to children, he or she will face harsh consequences, including jail time, monetary fines, social stigma, and more.
Sadly, there are instances where an individual is wrongfully accused of a child pornography-related offense. Regardless of the circumstances, these charges should never be taken lightly. If you are facing child pornography charges, it is critical that you contact a seasoned Tampa criminal defense attorney to safeguard your legal rights and interests.
For those charged with child pornography-related offenses, it is important that the accused remain silent when arrested. It is also the accused’s right to reject the warrantless search and seizure of his or her property. By working with a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney, you will be informed as to the nature of the charges against you and what you can do to protect yourself.
Teen Sexting and Child Pornography Charges in Tampa, Florida
Minors can be charged with child pornography due to possessing a picture or video of another child that is his or her age or younger, whether it is on a computer, cellphone, or other electronic device. This is also known as “sexting.” The Florida Legislature created a special statute that criminalizes this behavior. If accused, the juvenile could face serious legal consequences.
Defenses to Sexting Allegations under Florida Law
A defense to sexting is that the minor did not ask for the images to be sent to him or her and they reported it to a parent, legal guardian, school official, or police officer. The defense does not apply if the minor sent the images to third parties other than a parent, legal guardian, school official, or a police officer. Florida Statute Section 847,0141(2)(a) considers the transmission or distribution of numerous videos or images to be a single offense if they were transmitted or distributed within the same 24-hour timeframe.
Child Pornography-Related Charges In Florida
In the state of Florida, an individual can be faced with a number of different charges related to child pornography, each of which carries with it severe consequences.
These offenses are:
Distribution of Child Pornography: If a person advertises, disburses, directs or produces images or videos of a child engaged in a sexual act, he or she can be convicted of this crime. In these instances, the prosecution must establish that the accused knew that the image or video depicted a minor and distributed it anyway. Those convicted of distributing child pornography will face up to 15 years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender under the state and federal registry.
Exposing a Minor to Pornography: In Florida, a person can be convicted under Florida State Statute 847.013 if they knew that they were exposing a child to pornography. This includes any act of exposing a minor to an image, presentation, video, movie or exhibition that the accused knew it pornographic in nature. This offense also criminalizes the renting or selling of pornographic movies, images, or videos.
If a person is convicted of this offense, they will face a misdemeanor in the first-degree charge, which carries with it a prison term of up to 1 year. The offender will also be required to pay up to $1,000 in monetary penalties. Repeat offenders in this regard face harsher consequences, including hefty fines and extended prison time.
Manufacturing of Child Pornography: If an individual manufactures child pornography by soliciting or producing images, videos, or live sexual acts involving children, he or she may face up to 15 years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender under the state and federal registry.
Possession of Child Pornography: An individual can face possession of child pornography charges if they possess or download any content that depicts a child under the age of 18 engaged in sexual conduct, as defined under Florida Statute 847.001(16).
If a person is convicted of this time, he or she could be sentenced to a maximum of 5 years in prison. If they share pornographic material, he or she could face a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Transmission of Child Pornography: An individual can be convicted of transmitting child pornography if he or she causes to be delivered or send any images, data, or information to another person through the use of an electronic device or the internet. Such devices include a computer or cellphone. Every single image, video or document that a person transmits qualifies as a single offense. Each offense carries with it a maximum sentence of 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The offender will also be required to register as a sex offender under the state and federal registries.
Charges For Child Pornography May Include Other Crimes
In some instances, those charged with a child pornography-related crime may be faced with additional charges, each of which depends upon the facts and circumstances of one’s case. Generally speaking, those who are accused of a child pornography crime may face the following additional offenses:
- Rape or statutory rape of a minor;
- Folding of a minor;
- Sexual battery of a minor;
- Lewd behavior with a minor child; or
- Other sex acts with a minor.
Anyone who engages in a sexual act with a minor qualifies as a sex offender in Florida. Child pornography-related offenses are heavily prosecuted in Florida given that children are deemed unable to consent to engaging in sexual conduct. Working with a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney will ensure you are able to launch an early defense against your charges in order to have the strongest case possible.
The Severe Penalties Those Convicted Of Child Pornography Face
Those who distribute child pornography over the internet (such as by email) or via regular mail may face both state and federal charges. Those convicted of state charges may face the following consequences:
- A prison term of 5 to 30 years.
- A life sentence for those who are deemed repeat offenders.
- Sex offender registration: Individuals convicted of child pornography could be forced to register on the National Sex Offender Registry as well as Florida’s own sex offender registry. In some instances, convicted offenders will likely have to register for life.
- Difficulties finding gainful employment: A lot of employers refrain from hiring individuals who have been convicted of child pornography.
- Restrictions associated with being in the presence of children: Individuals convicted of child pornography may be restricted as to whether they are allowed around children, including their own.
State and federal child pornography laws are strict because there is zero tolerance for those who commit sex crimes involving children. Even having one image of child pornography is one’s possession can result in severe legal consequences. Federal laws allow for the enhancement of sentencing if the child depicted in an image or video is under the age of 12 or if the depiction is masochistic or sadistic in nature.
Steeper Fines And Penalties
If certain conditions are met, a person can face a harsher sentence than the mandatory minimums under Florida law. This occurs if an offender has more than 4 videos or images of a child engaged in sexual conduct. Moreover, an accused may face the charge of aggravated possession of child pornography if the following conditions exist;
- A child who is under the age of 5;
- Sadomasochistic abuse of a child;
- Sexual battery of a child;
- Sexual bestiality involving a child; or
- Any movie that depicts a child engaged in sexual acts.
Definition of Child Pornography under Florida Law
Under Florida Statute Section 847.001, child pornography is defined as any image depicting a minor, any person under the age of 18, engaged in sexual conduct. Florida law contains a variety of statutes that prohibit acts relating to child pornography found in two different chapters, ch. 827, F.S., and ch, 847, F.S.
Florida Statute 847.001(3) also defines the term “child pornography” to mean any image, including an image on a website or downloaded from the internet, depicting a minor child under the age of 18 years old engaged in sexual conduct.
Florida Statute 847.001(16) defines the term “sexual conduct” to mean:
- Deviate sexual intercourse;
- Actual sexual intercourse;
- Actual lewd exhibition of the genitals;
- Simulated sexual intercourse;
- Sadomasochistic abuse;
- Sexual bestiality;
- Actual physical contact with a person’s unclothed or clothed genitals, buttocks, pubic area, or, if such person is a female, breast with the intent to gratify or arouse the sexual desire of either party; or
- any act or conduct which constitutes sexual battery or simulates that sexual battery is being or will be committed.
Third Degree Felony for Possession of Child Pornography
An individual can face a third-degree felony conviction under Florida law for the transmission, possession, distribution, and manufacture of child pornography under Florida Statute Sections 847.0135, 847.0138 and 827.071. A third-degree felony carries with it a maximum of 5 years in jail. This offense involves an accusation of downloading or viewing any child-pornographic image.
If a person accused of possession of child pornography sends images to another individual, he or she may be faced with second-degree felony charges that involve a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
Producing or promoting child pornography is a serious offense and may be punishable by up to 30 years in jail for each charge.
Examples of child pornography laws in the State of Florida include:
- Giving Obscene Material to a Minor § 847.0133, Fla. Stat.;
- Transmission of Material Harmful to Minors by Electronic Device or Equipment § 847.0138(2), Fla. Stat.;
- Transmission of Child Pornography by Electronic Device or Equipment § 847.0137(2) and (3), Fla. Stat.
- [Possession] [Control] [Intentional Viewing] of Material Including Sexual Conduct by a Child § 827.071(5)(a), Fla. Stat.; and
- Possession of Material Including Sexual Conduct by a Child with Intent to Promote § 827.071(4), Fla. Stat.
Separate Images Result in Separate Charges and Increased Penalties
Each pornographic depiction of a child can be charged as separate criminal offense. The more offenses, the greater the penalties will be imposed on the offender.
However, when images or videos are downloaded from the internet, it is possible to obtain hundreds if not thousands of images at one once. As such, an accused in this situation may not face more severe punishment. However, the extent of punishment is subject to the court’s discretion.
Computer Pornography in Florida
The statute of limitations for a computer-related child pornography charge in Florida is three years when the crime is charged under Florida Statute Section 847.0135(2) as a third-degree felony. The offense of computer-generated child pornography requires proof that:
- (2)(a) a person knowingly compiles, enters into, or transmits by use of computer;
- (2)(b) makes, prints, publishes, or reproduces by other computerized means;
- (2)(c) knowingly causes or allows to be entered into or transmitted by use of computer;
- (2)(d) or buys, sells, receives, exchanges, or disseminates any notice, statement, or advertisement of any minor’s name, telephone number, place of residence, physical characteristics, or other descriptive or identifying information for purposes of facilitating, encouraging, offering, or soliciting sexual conduct of or with any minor, or the visual depiction of such conduct.
Possession of Photographic Material
In Florida, an individual is prohibited from possessing child-pornographic photographs that depict a child engaged in sexual conduct. The applicable laws are as follows:
- Section 827.071(4) is a Level 5 offense that makes it a second-degree felony to possess with intent to promote any photographic material, motion picture, etc., which includes sexual conduct by a child.
- Section 827.071(5) is a Level 6 offense that makes it a third degree felony to possess any photographic material, motion picture, etc., which includes sexual conduct by a child.
- Section 827.071(2) & (3) is a Level 6 offense that makes it a second-degree felony to use or induce a child in a sexual performance, or promote or direct such performance.
Child Pornography under Federal Laws
Child pornography-related offenses can also be prosecuted under federal law in addition to Florida law. Under 18 U.S.C. Section 2256(1) and (8), child pornography is defined as the visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually-explicit conduct. Illegal contrabands in this regard include any depiction of a child engaged in any form of sexual conduct that is considered “sexually explicit.”
The term “sexually explicit” does not require that the image shows the child engaged in sexual activity but can include even a picture of a naked child if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive. The visual depiction can include:
- Images or videos downloaded off the internet;
- undeveloped videotape or film;
- data stored electronically which can be converted into a visual image; or
- images stored on a computer disk or other electronic forum.
Under federal child pornography laws, an individual can face a conviction if they distribute, receive, produce, or possess any form of child pornography that is transmitted across state lines or if the equipment used to transmit such materials is moved across state lines.
The related offenses in this regard are as follows:
- 18 U.S.C. § 2251- Sexual Exploitation of Children (Production of child pornography);
- 18 U.S.C. § 2252- Certain activities relating to material involving the sexual exploitation of minors (Possession, distribution, and receipt of child pornography);
- 18 U.S.C. § 2252A- certain activities relating to material constituting or containing child pornography; and
- 18 U.S.C. § 2260- Production of sexually explicit depictions of a minor for importation into the United States.
Defenses Against Child Pornography
Those who are accused of child pornography-related offenses may raise a number of different defense to establish that they did not engage in such behaviors or that their legal rights were violated by law enforcement.
The most common defenses to child pornography-related crimes are:
Adult Depiction: This defense is applicable if the individual in the depiction is aged 18 or older. It does not matter if the individual looks young.
Child Erotica: Child erotica is not criminalized as is child pornography and can be distinguished therefrom. Child erotica pertains to material that portrays children as sexual objects or in a sexually suggestive way, but does not meet the definition of child pornography under the law.
Transitory Possession: This defense applies when an individual obtains child-pornographic material unwittingly. Meaning, when a person receives child pornography, they can assert this defense if they deleted it right away once they realize that it is child pornography. In these set of circumstances, this defense is available if the person does not intentionally view the child pornography or is unaware that they have a thumbnail or cache image of such prohibited material on their computer or other electronic device.
Illegal Search And Seizure: Law enforcement generally can only search and seize a person’s belongings, including electronic devices, pursuant to a valid warrant. Without a warrant, the material obtained cannot be admitted into court and be used against the accused.
Unknowing Possession: This defense is only available if an accused unknowingly obtained child pornography. This often applies if the individual’s computer is hacked or infected with a virus.
Good Faith Destruction Or Reporting: This defense can be raised when the accused reported the receipt of child pornography to law enforcement and made a good faith effort to delete the prohibited materials. For this defense to be applicable, the individual must only have 3 images or less in their possession.
Substantial Assistance: Individuals can assert the defense of substantial assistance where they provide sufficient information that leads to the identification, arrest or conviction of another individual who is involved in child-pornographic activities.
Florida Child Pornography Attorney
Being convicted of a child pornography-related offense, as provided above, can have serious consequences that can last a lifetime. Such consequences include extended jail time, steep monetary fines, social stigma, as well as difficulty in finding housing or gainful employment. Do not risk representing yourself when facing child pornography-related charges. Contact a skilled Tampa child pornography defense attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options. Only an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help you to develop the strongest defense possible in your case.
With over 150-year of combined legal experience, the lawyers at Musca Law have helped hundreds of individuals defend themselves against a multitude of different child pornography charges. Our seasoned Tampa attorneys closely examine each case and build a strong defense to help their clients get their charges reduced or dismissed.
Working with our highly skilled criminal defense attorneys in Tampa, Florida will ensure you stand a chance at achieving a favorable outcome in your case. Contact our law firm today at (888) 484-5057 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation to see how we can help you defend yourself and your rights.