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Coconut Grove child pornography defense lawyer

Expert representation for state & federal sex crime charges in Florida

The state of Florida and the federal government investigate suspected child pornography very thoroughly. A false accusation of involvement with child pornography can lead to embarrassment and damaging rumors that may continue to follow you for many years. We understand how a rumor can quickly escalate into a serious legal matter that may have a lasting effect on the wrongfully accused. Joffe Law, P.A. specializes in defending individuals who have been accused of a child pornography offense in Coconut Grove. Count on our child pornography lawyers to provide legal advocacy, representation, and protection against the damage a wrongful accusation that involves sex crimes can potentially do.

Federal and state jurisdiction in child pornography cases

Florida’s legal code has several specific laws state prosecutors use to charge child pornography-related offenses. Child pornography crimes are generally prosecuted by the state; however, they also often fall within the federal government’s jurisdiction, which will necessitate the services of an experienced federal crime lawyer in Coconut Grove. Factors that may automatically implicate federal jurisdiction in a criminal case include:

  • activity that enters the stream of interstate commerce
  • activity that enters the stream of international commerce
  • activity that occurs on federal government land
  • activity that involves a federal government official
  • activity that involves a federal government agency

Federal charges come with the possibility of mandatory minimum prison sentences, requirement to register as a federal sex offender, and hefty fines. In some cases, it may not be clear whether the federal government has rightfully assumed jurisdiction. Your Coconut Grove child pornography defense attorney can challenge jurisdiction and potentially eliminate the possibility of a hefty federal sentence.

Possession of child pornography

Possession is a standalone child pornography offense under federal and state law, and it is also a required element in more severely penalized child pornography offenses. Nevertheless, prosecutors often add a charge of possession to cases that involve more severe child pornography-related crimes. If the prosecutor is unable to prove all of the elements of the more severe offense, the defendant may still be convicted for possession if the prosecution is able to establish the required elements.

A defendant may be convicted for possession of child pornography if he or she has within his or her control a depiction of a minor engaging in sexual activity. A state or federal court may convict a defendant if he or she has active or constructive possession of a sexual depiction of a minor. Active construction refers to:

  • the defendant having an illegal item on his or her body
  • the defendant having an illegal item in a pocket in his or her clothing
  • the defendant having an illegal item in a bag, wallet, or other accessory that is worn on the defendant’s body
  • the defendant having an illegal item within his or her reach

Cases that involve constructive possession are more subjective. Generally, constructive possession refers to:

  • the defendant having an illegal item in an assigned desk drawer
  • the defendant having an illegal item in a private storage unit
  • the defendant having an illegal item in a personal closet at home
  • the defendant having an illegal item in an assigned locker at work
  • the defendant having an illegal item in a personal storage device

Possession in a child pornography case is not always straightforward. For example, illegal photos of a minor may be found in the storage drive on a shared computer or in a hallway closet in a household with multiple residents. Someone who allows a friend or coworker to borrow his or her laptop or other digital device may be accused of possessing child pornography if there is an illegal image on the device when the coworker returns it. In similar cases, a sex crime lawyer in Coconut Grove will challenge the prosecution’s argument that the defendant knowingly possessed a sexual image of a minor.

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Under Florida law, possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony that is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If convicted under federal law for possession of child pornography, a defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in federal prison if the minor depicted is at least 12 years old. If the victim is under 12, the maximum sentence under federal law is 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors may charge one count of possession of child pornography for each depiction. Therefore, if a defendant is convicted for possessing 100 images of child pornography, the court may sentence the convicted defendant for each count. Based on the example, if the court applies the maximum sentence, the defendant may face a 500-year sentence in state prison.

Charged for promoting child pornography in Coconut Grove

Promoting child pornography is defined under Florida law as the manufacture, sale, or transfer of any depiction of a minor engaging in sexual activity. Depictions that have been created or modified to portray an identifiable minor are also covered by Florida’s law against the promotion of child pornography. Because the law was written broadly, the threshold for an action to be considered promoting child pornography is relatively low. Some examples of acts that may be chargeable as promotion of child pornography include:

  • sending an email that includes an image of a minor engaging in sexual conduct
  • posting an image of a minor engaging in sexual conduct on a social media platform
  • posting a link to content that depicts a minor engaging in sexual conduct
  • sending a sexual depiction of a minor in a text message
  • transmitting a file that contains a depiction of a minor engaging in sexual conduct through a peer-to-peer file sharing network

A unique feature in Florida’s child pornography possession law allows state courts to presume the intent to promote child pornography if the defendant has three or more copies of a sexual depiction of a minor. Computers often make multiple copies of a file for ease of access and other reasons. Therefore, what may appear to be a basic possession charge can quickly escalate to a charge of promoting child pornography. Under Florida law, the promotion of child pornography is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Defendants who are convicted under state law for promoting child pornography are also required to register as a sex offender in the state registry.

In addition to prohibiting the possession, distribution, and promotion of child pornography, it is also against federal law to receive child pornography. Receipt of child pornography is prosecuted under the federal law against distributing child pornography. If convicted under federal law, a defendant may be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison up to a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.

Transmission of material harmful to minors

Not only is it illegal in Florida to transmit, possess, distribute, produce, and promote child pornography, but it is also illegal to transmit materials that are harmful to minors. The intent of the law is to prevent the exposure of minors to material that depicts nudity, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement. A Florida court may determine that material is harmful to a minor if:

  • the content appeals primarily to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest
  • the content is patently offensive
  • the content is without literary, scientific, artistic, or political value

Courts also weigh the current community perception of what is offensive and inappropriate for a child. Therefore, the process of determining whether material is harmful to a minor is subjective.

Use of a minor in a sexual performance

Anyone who coerces, entices, authorizes, employs, or otherwise induces a minor to participate in a sexual performance may be charged with a second-degree felony under Florida law. Parents, guardians, and custodians may also be charged under the same law if they give permission for a child who is under their watch to participate in a sexual performance. An individual may be convicted for use of a minor in a sexual performance if a state prosecutor proves:

  • the defendant employed, authorized, enticed, or induced a minor or is a parent, guardian, or custodian who gave permission for the child to be used in a sexual
  • performance
  • the defendant knew the character and content of the performance
  • the minor was under the age of 18 at the time of the performance

A sexual performance does not have to be a show or exhibition. The statute defines performance as any image, video, play, or other visual representation. Florida recognizes an exception to the law for mothers who are breastfeeding their child.

Child pornography and sexting in Florida

Sexting, or the act of exchanging sexual text messages, is legal when the parties involved are overtly consenting adults. However, if at least one of the parties is a minor, sexting is a criminal matter. Florida courts treat sexting cases very differently depending on whether the messages are exchanged between two minors or sexting occurs between a minor and an adult.

Coconut Grove sexting cases when the defendant is a minor

Sexting cases that involve minor defendants are usually adjudicated by the juvenile court system. Minors who have never been charged for sexting may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $60 and complete eight hours of community service and a course on the dangers of sexting. If the minor does not complete the requirements, the state may suspend his or her driver’s license. Second-time offenders may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor offense and sentenced to a maximum of one year in jail and ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000. Third-time minor offenders may be charged with a third-degree felony and sentenced to up to five years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $5,000. If a minor is a defendant in a sexting case the court deems to be very serious, the minor may be charged as an adult.

Adults charged for sexting with a minor

Adults who exchange sexual text messages with a minor are prosecuted under Florida’s child pornography laws. Prosecutors may also use other statutes that address child exploitation to charge adult defendants. Some charges an adult defendant in Florida may face for sexting with a minor include:

  • use of a child in a sexual performance
  • possession of child pornography
  • transmission of materials harmful to a minor
  • promotion of child pornography
  • traveling to meet a minor for a sexual purpose

In most cases, sexting with a minor is a second-degree felony for adult defendants. To avoid the potential of criminal prosecution, adults should verify the other party’s age before exchanging sexual text messages.

Chat room charges in Florida

Law enforcement agencies often investigate suspicions of child pornography by conducting sting operations. During a sting operation, law enforcement officers go undercover to conduct surveillance and infiltrate crime rings and to observe people in the process of engaging in criminal activity. Sting operations target areas in which illegal activity is likely to be occurring. Some examples of areas in which the police conduct child pornography sting operations include:

  • chat rooms
  • Web forums
  • peer-to-peer networks
  • social media groups
  • classified ad sites

Officers are required to follow certain rules when interacting with others while in their undercover roles. A police officer cannot induce someone to engage in criminal activity by using force, coercion, dishonesty about the law, or other illegal tactics. If you were approached by an undercover law enforcement officer in a chat room or other setting, contact a Coconut Grove child pornography defense lawyer to determine whether entrapment may have occurred.

Coconut Grove child pornography defense attorney

If you have been accused of a child pornography-related offense, you need the immediate help of a reputable Florida child pornography defense attorney. Joffe Law is a top legal defense firm that represents defendants in Florida child pornography cases. We are committed to protecting the rights of the accused. Our Coconut Grove federal criminal attorney will choose the most appropriate strategy to defend you in court. Contact Joffe Law, P.A. to receive a case evaluation.

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