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Coral Gables Child Pornography Lawyer

Federal defense attorney specializing in complex criminal sex crimes charges

Crimes that affect children are some of the most heavily penalized offenses under federal law and in Florida. A wrongful child pornography accusation can limit the accused person’s employment opportunities and result in the individual being shunned and ostracized. Unfortunately, the individual may continue to experience backlash from the accusation even if the allegations are proven to be false. Retaining legal counsel from the beginning of a criminal accusation can help you protect your reputation and avoid the negative effects of a wrongful charge. David Joffe is a trusted Coral Gables child pornography defense attorney. Joffe Law, P.A. is here to offer the legal protection you need if you have been wrongfully accused of a child pornography-related offense in Florida.

Reasons people are falsely accused of child pornography

The federal and state governments rightfully take suspected crimes against children very seriously. However, there are times when innocent people find themselves accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Some of the most common instances we see that involve false child pornography charges include:

  • mistaken identity
  • hacking
  • stolen computer
  • shared computer
  • mental illness
  • contentious divorce cases

Perhaps there is someone who has made a serious effort to wrongfully damage your reputation. We can defend you against the false charges and potentially mitigate some of the disruptions a false criminal charge may cause in your everyday life. If you share computer equipment with someone else or if you live or work in a space within which people have shared access to computers and storage spaces, your attorney will work diligently to prove that you were not the person who intentionally obtained or accessed the illegal images.

Child pornography laws in Florida

Under Florida law, it is illegal to possess, transmit, produce, promote, or access sexual images of a person who is under the age of 18. The state prosecutes crimes that sexually exploit children for commercial purposes under several different statutes. We’ve included a discussion on the most common Florida statutes that address child pornography and related offenses.

POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY IN CORAL GABLES

An individual may be charged under Florida’s child pornography possession statute if he or she has active or constructive possession of any image that depicts any person who is under 18 years of age engaging in sexual conduct. Florida law defines sexual conduct in illegal images of children as:

  • deviate sexual intercourse
  • actual sexual intercourse
  • lewd exhibition of the genitals
  • simulated sexual intercourse
  • sadomasochistic abuse
  • bestiality
  • masturbation
  • physical contact with the clothed or unclothed buttocks, genitals, pubic area, or female breast with the intent to gratify or arouse the sexual desire of any party
  • any act that constitutes sexual battery
  • any act that insinuates sexual battery is being committed or will be committed

The child depicted in the illegal material must be an “identifiable minor.” Confusingly, the term “identifiable” may not be construed by Florida courts to mean the prosecution must actually prove the identity of the minor depicted. Florida’s complex legal code makes it a necessity for people who are facing a child pornography charge to retain an experienced Coral Gables child pornography defense lawyer.

PROMOTING A SEXUAL PERFORMANCE BY A CHILD

Promoting child pornography is penalized more severely than possession. An individual may be charged for promoting child pornography if he or she manufactures, sells, or transfers pornographic images of children. A Florida criminal court may presume a defendant intended to promote child pornography if he or she possessed three or more copies of an illegal image. If the defendant had three or more copies of an image, prosecutors are not required to provide evidence that suggests the defendant intended to distribute or promote the image.

This presumption often catches defendants by surprise because there are several other reasons an individual may have multiple copies of an image. For example, web browsers often save images from previously visited websites. If you download an image, your computer will also likely save a thumbnail copy of the file. Nevertheless, there may be important ways your Sex crimes defense attorney in Coral Gables can challenge a charge of promoting child pornography.

Possessing child pornography is a third degree felony offense in Florida. However, if there are enough copies of an image for a court to convict a defendant for promoting child pornography, the defendant may be charged with a second degree felony for promoting child pornography.

USE OF A CHILD FOR A SEXUAL PERFORMANCE

Florida law prohibits employing, authorizing, or inducing a child to engage in a sexual performance. Any adult can be charged with using a child for a sexual performance without regard to the adult’s relationship to the child. However, parents and guardians may be convicted if they give permission or consent for a child to be used in a sexual performance. To establish a charge for using a child in a sexual performance, the prosecution must prove:

  • the accused party employed, authorized, or induced a minor to engage in a sexual performance or, if the adult is the child’s parent or guardian, the adults consented to the minor’s use in a sexual performance
  • the accused party knew the character and content of the performance
  • the minor was under 18 years old at the time of the sexual performance

Using a child for a sexual performance is a second degree felony. If convicted, an individual may be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay up to $10,000 in fines.

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TRANSMISSION OF MATERIALS HARMFUL TO MINORS

In addition to prohibiting adults from accessing child pornography, Florida law also prohibits adults from showing harmful materials to minors. Transmitting sexual material to minors is a third degree felony under Florida law. However, if convicted, the defendant does not have to register as a sex offender in the state registry.

An individual may be charged with transmitting harmful materials to a minor if he or she knowingly sends sexual materials to someone who is under 18 years of age. Material that is harmful to minors depicts nudity, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement and:

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

To prove a charge of transmitting harmful materials to minors, prosecutors must establish that the defendant knew the individual was a minor and knowingly transmitted the harmful material to the minor. Posting the materials for public viewing generally does not meet the requirement of specifically transmitting the materials to a minor.

Sexting and Florida’s child pornography laws

As more parents allow their children to have smartphones, the legal landscape for Florida’s child pornography laws continues to shift. In the past, courts have mainly prosecuted adults for possessing, producing, and distributing child pornography. Today, the state’s courts adjudicate cases that involve minors who produce and exchange sexual images created with their smartphones and other digital devices.

Sexting is a colloquial term that describes the act of exchanging sexual text messages that often contain sexual images. When both parties are overtly consenting adults, sexting is legal. However, when at least one party involved is a minor, sexting may violate the state’s child pornography laws. Florida law makes a distinction between cases that involve sexting between two minors and sexting between an adult and a minor. The state defines a sexting offense as “using a computer or any other device capable of electronic data transmission or distribution to transmit, distribute, or possess any photo or video of any person which depicts nudity.”

MINOR SEXTING CHARGE IN CORAL GABLES

A minor may be charged under Florida’s sexting law if he or she uses a phone, tablet, or other digital device to send nude or sexual photos. Minors may also be charged under the sexting law if they view or possess a nude or sexual photo of a minor. Sexting cases against minor defendants are most often adjudicated in Florida’s juvenile court system.

First-time minor offenders may be sentenced to complete eight hours of community service, pay a fine of up to $60, and complete an educational course on the dangers of sexting. The sentence for a second sexting offense by a minor is a first degree misdemeanor charge, which carries a jail sentence of up to one year and a possible fine of up to $1,000. Third and subsequent convictions on a sexting charge by a minor are felony convictions. After the second conviction, each charge carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of up to $5,000, five years on probation, and a possible requirement for the convicted defendant to register as a sex offender.

Florida courts count multiple sexual images received within a 24-hour period as a single count. However, images received outside of a 24-hour window count as multiple counts which can each carry a separate sentence. If a Florida court determines that a minor has committed a very serious sexting offense, the minor’s case may be adjudicated in the adult criminal court system.

ADULTS SEXTING MINORS IN FLORIDA

Sexting is a very serious offense when it involves an adult and a minor. Adults who intentionally receive sexual images from a child may be charged under Florida’s child pornography possession statute. Knowingly sharing the image may result in the adult being charged with distributing child pornography or promoting a sexual performance by a child. Adults who send sexual images to children may be charged with transmitting harmful materials to a minor. Unlike minor defendants, adult sexting defendants may be charged with a single count per image without regard to the time frame within which the images were received.

Coral Gables defense lawyer for child pornography charges

For a very serious accusation like a child pornography charge, you need a specialized attorney. Joffe law specializes in handling Coral Gables child pornography cases in federal and state court. Our Florida criminal defense lawyer is thoroughly familiar with the state’s complex child pornography laws. To learn more about how we can help you fight, contact us today. A member of our team will schedule a case evaluation.


Frequently Asked Questions
about child pornography charges

What can parents do to help their children avoid a sexting charge?

We recommend communicating openly and frequently with your child about the social and legal ramifications of creating and exchanging nude and sexual images. Encourage your child to inform you if he or she receives a sexual message from someone. Getting a parent involved can help the child avoid potential legal penalties. If your child informs you that he or she has received a sexual message, make a note of where the message came from, and immediately help the child delete the image. Depending on the sender’s age, contact the sender’s parents or the legal authorities if the sender is an adult.

What if a computer virus downloaded an illegal image onto my device?

It’s entirely possible for a virus or malware to download an image to your computer or phone without your knowledge. Once you discover the illegal image, search to see if there are other copies, and delete the file immediately. Next, notify the authorities if you know where the illegal images came from. Deleting the images and contacting law enforcement will support the argument that you had no intent to possess the illegal images.

What should I do if law enforcement requested an interview with me?

Contact your Coral Gables child pornography defense lawyer. Even if law enforcement wants to speak with you to gather information about someone else, having your attorney present can prevent the police from overstepping your rights. Your lawyer will also ensure that you don’t make statements that may otherwise draw unnecessary suspicion or incriminate you.

What if the police find child pornography in a storage unit I share with a business partner?

Before you do anything, speak with a Florida child pornography criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney can determine the best approach to protecting your reputation and proving that you have no involvement with your partner’s illegal activity.

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