Child Pornography Defense Lawyers in West Palm Beach, Florida (FL)
Child pornography is an issue that the state of Florida takes extremely seriously. Law enforcement officers in Florida have been working to locate and arrest people suspected of creating, viewing, or sharing pornographic images of children. Officers in Central Florida arrested 17 people in a highly publicized sting operation in November 2019. Two of the men arrested had been working for Disney World, and another was a former middle school assistant principal, which added to the salaciousness of the headlines.
While crimes related to the sexual exploitation of children are unquestionably serious, people can be wrongfully accused, and their charges can be inflated. Charges related to child pornography can have extreme consequences for accused persons and their families. These charges carry the risk of spending several years in prison and having to register as a sex offender. The effects of a conviction far outlast any criminal punishment. If you are facing child pornography charges in West Palm Beach, you need to immediately consult with a knowledgeable Florida criminal lawyer to understand your rights.
Musca Law has decades of experience handling complicated criminal matters, including child pornography cases. Contact our offices today at (888) 484-5057 to schedule a confidential and free consultation with one of our lawyers.
Child Pornography Charges in Palm Beach County
There are several types of charges that relate to child pornography in West Palm Beach and across Florida. The charges pursued in your case will depend on the facts and evidence available, and your West Palm Beach attorney will work to reduce or eliminate the charges wherever possible. The specific charges in your case will influence the potential penalties.
Under Florida law, a person may be charged with one of the following crimes related to child pornography:
Manufacturing Child Pornography: A person can be charged with manufacturing child pornography if he or she creates or helps to create a video or image of a child that is pornographic in nature. This includes directing and producing pornographic content featuring minors, as well as solicitation of minors for the purpose of creating child pornography. A conviction for manufacturing child pornography can result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years, along with imposition of large fines and required sex offender registration.
Distributing Child Pornography: A person can be charged with distributing child pornography if he or she knowingly distributed, disbursed, sold, or advertised videos or images depicting children engaged in sexual conduct. A conviction for distributing child pornography can result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years, along with imposition of large fines and required sex offender registration.
Possession of Child Pornography: Possession of child pornography is one of the more common charges in this set of crimes. It is also the charge that people think of first when they hear about child pornography accusations. Under Florida law, possession includes one or more pornographic images or videos of children, found on the accused’s person, among the accused’s belongings, or on one of his or her electronic devices. A conviction for possession of child pornography can result in a prison sentence of up to five years, along with imposition of fines and possible sex offender registration. If the accused shared the video(s) or image(s), additional charges could be added to the possession charge, and the potential penalties associated with a conviction could increase.
Exposing a Minor to Pornography: A person can be charged with exposing a minor to pornography if he or she showed pornographic material to a child. This criminal charge does not require that the pornographic material itself feature children. Rather, any pornographic content shown to a minor can result in charges of exposing a minor to pornography. A conviction for exposing a minor to pornography can result in a prison sentence of up to one year, along with imposition of a fine of $1,000 and possible sex offender registration.
The circumstances of each case, including whether a person has prior convictions related to child pornography or sex crimes, will dictate the individual charges and the possible penalties to the accused. It is important to speak with a West Palm Beach child pornography defense attorney, like those at Musca Law, as soon as possible if you have been charged with one of these crimes. Your lawyer will help you understand the gravity of the charges filed against you and the punishment that could result from a conviction.
Charges Frequently Added to Child Pornography Cases in West Palm Beach
In any criminal case, prosecutors like to cast a wide net to capture all the charges they can possibly file against the accused. Sometimes, these charges are added due to pressure on the prosecutor’s office to look tough on crime. This typically results in a long list of charges against each person that might be related in some way to the underlying crime, many of which the prosecutor knows will be dropped later. In a case related to child pornography, prosecutors might add on one or more of the following charges:
- Lewd behavior with a minor
- Sexual battery of a minor
- Fondling a minor
- Statutory rape
- Other sex crimes involving a minor
In the eyes of the law, persons under 18 years of age cannot legally consent to any sexual acts. They do not have the legal capacity to give consent. Any adult engaging in a sexual act with a person under age 18, therefore, can be subject to criminal charges of some kind. Whether you have been charged with child pornography or several sex crimes including child pornography, you need to hire a lawyer to discover what defenses might apply to your case. You have legal rights, and those deserve to be protected. Musca Law can review your case when you contact us today.
Penalties and Sentencing in West Palm Beach Child Pornography Cases
The penalties for a child pornography conviction in West Palm Beach will depend on the nature of the charges. A conviction in any child pornography case can potentially result in jail time, serious fines, sex offender registration, and long-term social and professional consequences. Most child pornography convictions will be subject to the following criminal punishments:
- Jail time of five to 30 years, depending on the charges;
- Possible life sentences for people with multiple convictions;
- Large fines imposed on the convicted person;
- Required sex offender registration;
- Potential restrictions on interaction with or proximity to children.
In some cases, people convicted on child pornography charges will face restrictions on their visitations with their own children. They also might have difficulty finding employment or housing when they are finished with their sentences, as employers and landlords often turn away applicants and tenants on the sex offender registration list.
Florida and West Palm Beach prosecutors are known for seeking the highest penalties on cases involving child pornography. If you have been accused of this type of crime, it is imperative that you retain experienced counsel, like the attorneys at Musca Law, to fight the charges.
Federal and Aggravated Charges in Child Pornography Cases
In some cases, prosecutors might seek federal or aggravated charges that can result in stricter sentences. If the case includes accusations that child pornography was shared, distributed, or sold through the internet or mail, it is possible that federal charges will follow. Prison terms, fines, and other penalties all have the potential to be harsher at the federal level.
In addition, prosecutors might pursue aggravated charges and enhanced sentencing at the state or federal level. This means the materials or the circumstances surrounding the charges are extreme enough to warrant more serious charges. Materials and circumstances that might give rise to aggravated charges and enhanced sentencing in West Palm Beach could include:
- Manufacturing, distributing, or possessing pornographic videos or images of children under the age of 5;
- Manufacturing, distributing, or possessing pornographic videos or images of children that involve violence or bestiality;
- Manufacturing, distributing, or possessing videos of multiple minors engaged in sexual conduct; or
- Possessing four or more items considered to be child pornography.
This is not an exhaustive list of the circumstances that might prompt more serious charges in a case. To best understand the charges involved in your case, contact Musca Law to schedule a consultation with a skilled West Palm Beach child pornography defense attorney.
Defenses to Child Pornography Charges in West Palm Beach
Persons accused of crimes related to child pornography deserve to defend themselves against the charges. The justice system in Florida provides for several types of defenses to these charges. The defense strategies your attorney uses will depend on the facts involved in your unique case.
Some of the more common defenses to child pornography charges in West Palm Beach include:
Illegal Search or Seizure: In most child pornography cases, charges are filed after law enforcement officers have obtained incriminating materials from the accused. They might have performed a search of the accused’s house or office or might have swept the accused’s phone and computers. Any of these searches has to be carried out pursuant to a valid warrant. If there was no warrant for the search, the search is illegal, and any evidence seized through the illegal search cannot be used against the accused.
Unknowing Possession: Computer viruses and cyberattacks abound today, and it is possible that a virus or hacking incident could place pornographic content onto someone’s computer without his or her knowledge or consent. If a person was an unknowing victim of a computer virus or hacking attack, this could be raised as a defense to child pornography charges.
Transitory Possession: A person might inadvertently download a pornographic image or visit a site that contains pornographic material thinking he or she was downloading something else or going to a different site. In these situations, people usually immediately navigate away from the page or delete the content, but an electronic trail is often still present on their computers. If a person has come into possession of child pornography unwillingly or unintentionally, he or she could use the defense of transitory possession.
Adult Depiction: Adult pornographic material, in most circumstances, is not illegal by itself. Some of this material might feature adults who appear to be minors or adults who dress up as minors. If the material in question does not actually feature any children, the accused can use this fact to defend the charges.
Erotica: Erotica is a genre outside of pornography that might contain images of children. It might feature suggestive images or images of children without clothing, but it does not rise to the level of pornography. The line between pornography and erotica can be difficult to ascertain, and a knowledgeable attorney will explore whether this defense might be available in a given case.
Substantial Assistance: If a person accused of crimes related to child pornography provides substantial assistance to investigators and thereby helps secure another arrest or conviction, that person might be eligible for a plea deal or reduced charges. This defense strategy is particularly useful in situations where officers are looking for people involved in the creation or distribution of child pornography. Someone in possession of pornographic material might substantially assist officers in finding the person or persons making and selling the content and receive a lesser sentence in return.
Good Faith Reporting and Destruction: A person facing child pornography charges might also raise the defense of good faith reporting and destruction, claiming that he or she made a good faith effort to destroy the material and/or to report it to authorities. This defense is not available to persons who are in possession of four or more pornographic images.
Sting Operations Leading to Child Pornography Charges in Florida
Sting operations are among the tactics Florida law enforcement officers use today to try to track down suspects in child pornography cases. The operations are reminiscent of the television series “To Catch a Predator,” which aired on NBC for several years. The series involved confrontations with adults who believed they were arriving at a location to engage in sexual acts with minors. The suspects had been invited to the locations by people posing as minors in internet chat rooms.
In modern-day sting operations, law enforcement officers pose as minors and use social media and messaging apps to communicate with suspects and arrange for meetups or the exchange of pornographic materials. In the November 2019 sting, law enforcement officers in Florida used these methods to arrest 17 male individuals ranging in age from 19 to 77. The practice is controversial, as many people believe that it borders on entrapment and entices people who are not predisposed into committing a crime.
If you have been charged with a crime related to child pornography, contact Musca Law today. Whether you were arrested because of a sting operation or an individual investigation, we can look into the circumstances of your arrest and help you fight the charges. Our lawyers fiercely advocate for our clients because we know how seriously these charges can affect people’s lives. Call our offices today to arrange a free consultation.
Teen ‘Sexting’ and Child Pornography Charges
Almost all American teenagers today have smartphones, and many use their phones to exchange sexually explicit content in text messages, a practice referred to as “sexting.” Sometimes, sexting will involve the exchange of nude or partially nude photos. In most circumstances, teens who send each other these photos have no idea that they are engaging in the creation and sharing of child pornography.
While Florida prosecutors generally do not place extreme charges on teenagers in these circumstances, it is very important for teens and parents to know that exchanging sexually explicit photos of themselves or other teens is illegal. The potential punishment for the act will depend on the charges and the circumstances of the case. Often, if a teen who receives an image or video of another teen reports the content to an adult or school official, the outcome will be much more favorable for that teen.
If your child is facing child pornography charges because of an instance of teen sexting, contact Musca Law today. Our lawyers will help you navigate these complex areas of law and will work to protect your family from the damaging consequences of the charges.
Contact Musca Law Today to Protect Your Rights!
The lawyers at Musca Law understand that child pornography charges can be confusing and frightening. It is important to remember when you have been criminally charged that you have legal rights, and you deserve an experienced legal advocate on your side to protect those rights. When you hire skilled counsel, you can fight the charges and work to avoid the devastating effects of a conviction.
Musca Law’s West Palm Beach child pornography defense attorneys will explore all the aspects of your case and work to build the best defense. We offer confidential case consultations at no cost to potential clients, and we can schedule yours when you call our offices today. Contact us now by calling (888) 484-5057.