Children are among the most vulnerable population in the United States, and child pornography laws seek to protect these vulnerable children from exploitation. The state of Florida has criminalized promotion, sales or production of child pornography, and will prosecute those who view, control or possess child pornography, even if they do so in their own home. A person who possesses three or more copies of a sexual performance which involves a child could additionally be charged with intent to distribute or sell the materials to others.
If you are facing a child pornography charge, then it is essential that you speak to an experienced Sarasota criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At The Law Place, our attorneys have over 75 years of combined experience and our phone lines are open 24/7.
Call The Law Place now for a free consultation with a Sarasota child pornography lawyer.
Defining Child Pornography
Under Florida Statutes, Section 827.071(5), it is a criminal offense to knowingly control, possess, or intentionally view a photograph (including a computer depiction, an image, data, a show, a movie, or an exhibition) which depicts any type of sexual conduct by a child.
A minor, in the state of Florida is a child under the age of 18, and the prohibition under state statutes is against exploitation, in visual materials, which depicts sexual conduct of a minor.
Each photograph (or other type of graphic stated above) constitutes a separate charge. As an example, if you were found in possession of 235 photographs of child pornography, you would be charged with 235 counts of the offense. Further, if there is more than one child engaging in sexual conduct in the photograph, then you will be charged with separate offenses for each child. Under Florida Statute, Section 847.0137, it is a criminal offense to transmit child pornography to another person, so long as you knew—or reasonably should have known—you were transmitting child pornography.
Child Pornography Charges
Possessing child pornography is a third-degree felony. If you are convicted of the offense of possession of child pornography, you could face up to five years in prison, and a fine as large as $5,000. Therefore, if you are charged with twenty counts of possession of child pornography (you either have twenty photographs depicting child pornography in your possession, or ten photographs which depict two children in a sexual act) you could face up to 100 years in prison.
Transmission of child pornography is also a third-degree felony, with the same penalties as a conviction for child pornography possession. If you are convicted of promoting child pornography (which includes selling, manufacturing, giving and distributing) or creating child pornography, you will face a second-degree felony charge and could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison.
Defenses to a Child Pornography Crime
If you are convicted of any type of sex offense in the state of Florida, you will suffer grave consequences, not only regarding criminal penalties, but you will likely have to register as a sex offender for the remainder of your life. You could additionally find it difficult to find employment, rent a home, obtain a professional license, or go to college on a governmental student loan. Because of these very serious consequences, your child pornography attorney will carefully build a defense on your behalf, based on your specific circumstances. Some of the more common defenses used to combat charges of Child Pornography include the following:
- You were not the person who downloaded the images to your computer—either another person who uses your computer downloaded the images, or they were contained in a virus which was transmitted via the Internet; or
- You were a victim of entrapment when law enforcement created a situation that influenced your criminal activity.
Understanding Digital Forensics in Child Pornography Cases
In the digital age, it’s not just about what content is found but also how and where it was discovered. Digital forensics plays a crucial role in child pornography cases, examining electronic devices to find evidence or refute claims.
What is Digital Forensics?
Digital forensics is the process of uncovering and interpreting electronic data. This field aims to preserve evidence in its most original form while conducting a structured investigation. For child pornography cases, this often means retrieving deleted files, analyzing browsing histories, or tracing file transfers.
Why is Digital Forensics Important in Child Pornography Cases?
- Evidence Preservation: Digital forensics ensures that evidence, once found, is preserved in an untampered form. This is crucial for court proceedings, as any alteration can invalidate the evidence.
- Determining the Origin: It’s not just about the presence of illicit material, but also how it got there. Did the accused actively download it, or was it transferred to their device without their knowledge?
- Time-stamps and Metadata: Digital files come with metadata, information that can tell when the file was created, last accessed, or modified. This can be instrumental in establishing a timeline of events.
- Unearthing Deleted Data: Just because something is deleted doesn’t mean it’s gone. Forensic experts can often retrieve files or fragments of files that the user tried to erase.
If you’re facing allegations related to child pornography, it’s essential to understand the role digital forensics might play in your defense. An attorney can examine the electronic evidence, potentially uncovering facts that challenge the prosecution’s narrative. Discussing the specifics of your case with a seasoned Sarasota attorney who is familiar with digital forensics can provide invaluable insights and might be the difference between conviction and acquittal.
Sarasota child pornography lawyer, FAQ
What constitutes child pornography under Florida law?
In Florida, child pornography is defined as any image, video, or other media that depicts a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. This can include various actions, ranging from explicit sexual activity to lewd exhibition of the genitals.
What’s the difference between sexually explicit conduct and simulated sexual intercourse?
Sexually explicit conduct covers a broad range of activities involving minors, from lascivious exhibition to actual sexual acts. Simulated sexual intercourse, on the other hand, refers specifically to depictions that give the appearance of sexual activity without actual penetration or contact. In the entertainment industry, many scenes in movies or TV shows might fall under this category, but they’re often managed under strict guidelines to avoid legal complications. However, outside of these professional settings, creating, sharing, or distributing such content, especially without the consent of involved parties, can lead to serious legal consequences.
Are there any legal defenses against child pornography charges?
Yes, there are several defenses a Sarasota child pornography lawyer might employ, such as challenging the authenticity of the evidence, asserting the defendant’s lack of knowledge about the material’s content, or arguing about the age of the individual depicted. Each case is unique, and the defense strategy will depend on the specifics.
Can law enforcement search my home or computer without my permission?
Law enforcement needs a search warrant to search your home or computer. This warrant is issued based on probable cause, meaning there’s reasonable belief that evidence related to a crime (like child pornography) might be found in the location specified.
What should I do if a search warrant is executed at my residence?
If law enforcement arrives with a search warrant, it’s crucial to remain calm, not interfere with the search, and immediately contact a Sarasota child pornography lawyer. They will advise you on your rights and the best course of action to take.
Are there differences between state and federal child pornography laws?
Yes, both Florida and federal laws address child pornography, but they might differ in definitions, penalties, and jurisdiction. It’s possible for someone to face charges at both levels, making it crucial to consult a knowledgeable attorney.
What penalties can one face for child pornography offenses?
Penalties for child pornography offenses can be severe, including lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines, and mandatory registration as a sex offender. The exact penalties depend on the specifics of the charges and any previous criminal history.
How can a Sarasota child pornography lawyer help if I’m accused?
A Sarasota child pornography lawyer can provide legal advice, challenge the evidence presented, negotiate with prosecutors, and represent you in court. Their expertise can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of the legal system and ensuring your rights are protected.
Can charges be dropped or reduced?
Yes, in some cases, charges can be dropped or reduced, especially if there’s insufficient evidence, procedural errors, or other mitigating factors. A skilled attorney can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the case and work towards the best possible outcome.
Are conversations with my attorney confidential?
Absolutely. Attorney-client privilege ensures that any communication between you and your Sarasota child pornography lawyer remains confidential. This ensures you can speak openly and honestly, allowing your attorney to provide the best possible defense.
Getting the Help You Need from a Criminal Defense Attorney
The Sarasota criminal defense attorneys from The Law Place offer comprehensive support to our clients who have been charged with Child Pornography. We understand how intimidating it can be to be charged with such serious charges, and we will work hard to have your charges reduced or dismissed, or, if there is a conviction, we will work on your behalf to have the penalties significantly reduced.
We understand that you could be completely innocent of the charges of Child pornography, or perhaps you simply made a serious error in judgment. Contact the reputable firm of The Law Place—we will develop a customized criminal defense strategy for you, as we tirelessly advocate for your rights and your future.
Child Pornography Attorneys in Florida