Panama City Sex Crime Defense LawyersIn Florida, defendants who are convicted of sex offenses face serious penalties, including jail time, fines, and in some cases, registration as a sex offender. For a better understanding of these crimes, including potential defenses, you should consider speaking with a Panama City sex crime defense lawyer who can address your questions and concerns.
Panama City Child Pornography LawyerFlorida law strictly prohibits the possession, production, and distribution of child pornography. According to Fla. Stat. 827.071, this applies not only to photographic images, but also videos, movies, computer depictions, plays, and other representations. As long as the image depicts a minor engaged in sexual conduct, it qualifies as child pornography and its possession can lead to third-degree felony charges for each image recovered. In fact, if a person is found in possession of three or more copies of a single image, he or she could be charged with not only possession but also possession with the intent to promote child pornography, the latter of which is considered a second-degree felony.
In the event that a defendant is suspected of producing, manufacturing, or directing child pornography, he or she could also be charged with promoting the sexual performance of a child. The promotion covers not only manufacturing, but also selling, mailing, delivering, or advertising. If the allegations in question relate specifically to transmission of the images via an electronic device, a defendant could be charged under Fla. Stat. 847.0137. This charge is usually raised when an image that qualifies as pornographic and involves a minor is transmitted over the internet or through the use of electronic equipment. As long as a person knew or should have known what the images contained, he or she can be charged with a third-degree felony.
Fortunately, defendants can raise a number of arguments in their defense, including that:
- They were the victim of entrapment;
- They did not know that the images being downloaded were pornographic;
- They used a shared computer and were not responsible for saving the images;
- The police lacked probable cause to search their computer; or
- The images were downloaded by a prior owner.
Panama City Solicitation of Prostitution AttorneyAnother commonly charged sex offense in Florida is solicitation of prostitution, which, under Florida Statute 796.07, is considered unlawful whether or not the person being solicited is an adult or a minor. An accused can only be charged with this offense if he or she enticed, bribed, requested, solicited, or procured another person to engage in sexual activity in exchange for compensation, lewdness, or assignation. However, it is possible for those accused of this offense to be convicted of solicitation even if the other party wasn’t actually a sex worker, didn’t intend to go through with the agreement, or did not exchange money. For this reason, sting operations are often used by law enforcement officers in making arrests for solicitation.
Although this type of offense is usually charged as a misdemeanor, it can be enhanced to a felony if the person who was solicited was actually a minor. This is true regardless of whether the solicited party was actually a minor. As long as the defendant believed that the individual was under the age of 18 years old, he or she can be charged with solicitation of a minor. If the solicitation occurred over the internet, a defendant can expect to be charged with a third-degree felony, unless there is evidence that he or she lied about his or her age, in which case, that individual can be charged with a second degree felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment. Furthermore, each online communication is charged as a separate count, so if a person is accused of talking to a minor on four different occasions, he or she could face four charges of online solicitation of a minor, even if the same person was being solicited.
Although there are a variety of defenses available to those accused of solicitation, one of the most common is entrapment, which is often raised in cases that involve sting operations. In order to avoid conviction, a defendant who raises this defense must be able to demonstrate that an undercover officer enticed him or her to commit a crime that that individual would not otherwise have been predisposed to commit. Defendants can also argue that they are the victim of mistaken identity, which can be a strong defense in cases where the person being solicited was not operating undercover and there are no pictures or videos recording the exchange.