Panama City Sex Crime Defense Lawyers
In 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 Lawyer
Florida 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.
However, it is important to note that defendants who are accused of promoting child pornography cannot argue that they didn’t know that the person depicted was a minor.
Sex Offender Probation Program
The majority of offenders who agree to participate in this program do so as a provision of their early discharge from prison. A lucky few, however, are fortunate enough to bypass this penalty via the risk assessment process. Florida’s sex offender probation program is one of the most comprehensive and demanding programs in the state of Florida, but it is worth the struggle if it means bypassing a long stay in the state prison. Those who participate in this program have to meet various requirements which include, but are not limited to:
- Statutory curfews
- Thorough participation in and completion of the sex offender therapy program
- Passing random checks to ensure the offender is not accessing, owning, viewing or possessing any sexually stimulating, pornographic, or obscene auditory or visual material, including electronic media, telephone, computer services, or computer programs that are related to the offender’s aberrant pattern of behavior
- The offender may not access the Internet or any other electronic services until a qualified professional from the offender’s treatment program establishes a safety system pertaining to the offenders accessing or using the Internet or other computer services after a risk evaluation is performed
- The offender must agree to submit to warrantless searches of their person, house and/or car
- Submission to polygraph examinations that will take place no less than once a year
If the terms of the probation are not met, the sex offender will be legally compelled to go to prison. Given the gravity with which the courts handles sexual offenses, particularly those concerning children, it is imperative that you hire a qualified sex crimes defense attorney who is knowledgeable of the laws and defense options as soon as you are able. Doing this could preserve your employment and your reputation by not making you serve time in prison.
Panama City Solicitation of Prostitution Attorney
Another 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.
Sex Offenders’ Risk Assessment
A fundamental element of Florida’s sex offender probation program is the risk assessment process. This risk assessment is able to be employed before sentencing as a critical component of the defense’s tactics. A risk assessment is administered by a qualified professional, normally a psychiatrist or a psychologist who possesses a special skill set that is required for treating sex offenders. This assessment will define the risk that the defendant poses to the general public based on a thorough psychological analysis, physical and mental health assessment, their current offenses, any prior criminal record, and their readiness to cooperate and submit to the treatment program.
The accused’s agreement to take part in the sex offender risk assessment is not considered to be an admission of guilt and may not be used as such during the course of the trial. If the report demonstrates that the accused poses absolutely no threat to the public, however, a qualified Panama City defense attorney would be permitted to cite the assessment in an attempt at a plea bargaining or when it comes to sentencing. If the maneuver proves to be successful, then the defendant could avoid incarceration and only be compelled to take part in the sex offender probation program.
The Jimmy Ryce Act
An essential component of sex crime sentences that warrants extra spotlight is the indeterminate civil consignment of sexually motivated offenders, even well after they have served their sentence. This is also recognized as the Jimmy Ryce Act, which was enacted in 1999.
The Jimmy Ryce Act centers around the involuntary commitment of sexual offenders who are violent to the extreme and who supposedly suffer from a “mental abnormality or personality disorder” that makes them more prone to commit even more acts of sexual violence. Basically, we are imprisoning people for criminal acts that they may, but as of now have not, commit. The civil action can be spearheaded after a review by the Florida Department of Corrections, the Florida Department of Children and Families and state attorneys.
Dissemination of Obscene Material
Both state and federal laws forbid the dissemination of obscene material. In less legal terminology this means the distribution of obscene material. Of course, just because something is considered obscene does not automatically mean that it has anything at all to do with sex, but the majority of the crimes that are prosecuted under dissemination laws do have a sexual framework to them.
Panama City sex crimes defense lawyers at Musca Law understand the seriousness of these kinds of charges and are dedicated to constructing as strong a defense as possible for your case. Florida’s obscenity laws include crimes that are tied to pornography and to indecent relations or contact with minors that does not include physical contact.
It is necessary to reiterate that the defendant’s ignorance of a child’s real age, even in the event that the minor lied, is not an acceptable defense for the crime. It also will not make a difference if the defendant is able to show that the minor agreed to any of the sexual acts. Even in a case where a suspect honestly believed the supposed victim was at least 18 years of age, it is not going to be of any assistance in this type of case.
Your chosen criminal defense attorney should be one who is experienced in Florida obscenity law and who has the necessary resources to construct a powerful defense.
What Qualifies as Obscenity?
The state of Florida defines obscenity as material that:
- An ordinary person, using contemporary societal norms, would find the overall tone of the material appeals to prurient curiosity
- Shows or describes sexual conduct in a manner that is patently objectionable
- When regarded in its entirety, does not have any serious political, scientific, literary or artistic value.
The law explicitly states that a mother breastfeeding her child is, under no circumstances, to be labeled or otherwise marked as obscene.
Punishment for Sex Crimes in Panama City
Florida state law addresses any sexual violence perpetrated by one person upon another in a number of different ways. When you come in for your free initial consultation, our Panama City sex crime attorneys will be able to describe the exact nature of the charges that have been brought against you, what they could possibly indicate for your future, and in what way we might be prepared to defend you once we have the opportunity to further examine the details of your specific case.
The sentences for sexual battery/rape are usually considered with other aggravating factors, such as the age of the offender, the age of the victim, and whether or not any aggravating circumstances were present. It is also necessary to be aware that, in keeping with Florida laws, every single person who is found guilty of sexual battery is required to be identified as either a sexual predator or a sexual offender and will be to comply with all of the state’s sexual predator and sexual offender registration laws for the remainder of their lives. In addition to all of this, the Adam Walsh Act dictates that any person who is found guilty of sexual battery is unable to request the erasure of their name from state and/or federal sexual offender registration lists at any point in time because the basis of the crime was non-consensual sexual acts.