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Key Biscayne Child Pornography Lawyer

Our sex offense attorneys will fight tirelessly for your freedom

Offenses that exploit children are among the most severely penalized crimes under federal and state law. When a law enforcement agency receives information that suggests someone may be exploiting a child, the case will generally be investigated aggressively. For people who are falsely accused of a sexual offense that involves a child, the suspicions may linger for many years even if the accused party is never charged with a crime. Florida’s tough approach to prosecuting child pornography offenses make it possible for people to be mistakenly accused of a very serious offense. If you or someone you know has been accused of a sex crime of this type, immediately contact a Key Biscayne child pornography defense attorney. Joffe Law, P.A. will work to prevent unnecessary damage to your reputation and provide the legal defense you need to fight back against the charges you face.

Child pornography under state and federal law

The federal government and the states have their own versions of child pornography laws. Because child pornography cases most often involve depictions that have been transmitted across state lines or from other countries, these cases are often within the jurisdiction of the federal government and the state. Defendants who are accused of a child pornography offense under federal and state law may be prosecuted and convicted on separate occasions in both court systems. Child pornography cases are usually prosecuted by the state; however, any of the following factors may also implicate federal jurisdiction:

  • activity that occurs across one or more state lines
  • activity that involves another country
  • activity that occurs on federal government land
  • activity that involves a federal official
  • activity that occurs in a U.S. territory

Child pornography cases require the assistance of an experienced Key Biscayne sex crimes attorney. In some instances, courts may get the jurisdiction aspect of a case wrong. If incorrect, your Key Biscayne federal defense lawyer will challenge jurisdiction to prevent you from unnecessarily facing the harsh penalties that come with a federal conviction.

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Key Biscayne child pornography possession cases

Possession is the most basic charge someone can face in a child pornography case. An individual may be charged with possession of child pornography if he or she has within his or her control a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexual activity. Florida law recognizes active and constructive possession. Active possession occurs when the defendant has the illegal item on his or her physical person. Some examples of active possession are:

  • having a USB drive in your pocket that contains child pornography
  • holding a cell phone in your hand that contains sexual images of a minor
  • wearing a backpack that contains child pornography in print form or on a digital storage device
  • storing a laptop that contains illegal images under the driver’s seat while you are in your car

People are often unaware that they can be charged for child pornography possession if they are deemed to be in constructive possession of sexual images of a minor. Constructive possession occurs if the individual has illegal materials stored in an area that is under the individual’s control even if the area is not within the defendant’s immediate reach. Examples of construction possession are:

  • storing pornographic images in an assigned locker
  • keeping child pornography in a laptop stored in an assigned work desk
  • having child pornography in a storage unit that is in the defendant’s name
  • having child pornography on an external hard drive in a personal closet at home

There are several ways a Key Biscayne child pornography defense lawyer can challenge possession. State and federal law require the prosecution to prove the defendant knowingly possessed the illegal images. Therefore, if the defendant’s attorney can prove the defendant did not place the images where they were found and had no knowledge of the images, a conviction is less likely. A defense attorney may also challenge possession in cases in which the illegal images were found in a shared space. For example, if someone else had access to the desk, storage unit, or closet in which the images were found, the defense attorney will likely challenge the prosecution’s ability to prove the images belonged to the defendant.

One surprising aspect of Florida’s child pornography possession law is how quickly a possession charge can be enhanced to a more severe charge for promoting child pornography. If a defendant is accused of having three or more copies of a depiction of a minor engaging in sexual activity, the court may presume the individual intended to promote child pornography. Under Florida law, possession of child pornography is a third degree felony offense that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Promotion of child pornography is a second degree felony under Florida law. If convicted, the defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in state prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000.

Prosecutors charge a separate count of possession of child pornography for each image or depiction the defendant is accused of possessing. Therefore, a defendant who is convicted for possessing 1,000 pornographic images of a minor may be sentenced separately for each of the 1,000 counts.

Florida’s law against “deep fakes”

In 2022, Florida’s legislature passed a law that expanded the types of images that are prohibited under the state’s child pornography laws. The new law changes the state’s legal definition of child pornography to include sexual images of minors that are created, altered, modified, or adapted by electronic, mechanical, or other means. People who promote altered sexual depictions known as “deep fakes” may face civil and criminal liability if the image portrays a minor.

Willfully and maliciously promoting a deep fake image of an identifiable minor is a third degree felony under Florida law. If convicted, the defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of five years in state prison and ordered to pay a fine of up $5,000. An image portrays an identifiable minor if the person in the depiction was a minor at the time the depiction was made. The prosecution must also prove the minor is recognizable by his or her face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristics such as a birthmark.

Promoting child pornography

Florida law defines the promotion of child pornography as the manufacture, sale, or transfer of an image or video that depicts a minor engaging in a sexual activity. Artificially created and modified images are also included in the law. Many may be surprised by how broad the state’s law against promoting a sexual performance against a child is. For example, an individual may be charged and convicted for promoting child pornography if he or she:

  • sends an email that contains a sexual depiction of a minor
  • transmits a sexual image of a minor through a peer-to-peer file sharing site
  • posts a link to an internet site that contains child pornography

Prosecutors may bring charges against an individual for transmitting a single image or video that depicts a minor engaging in sexual activity. Therefore, someone who forwards a group email without knowing the content may be unexpectedly charged with a felony offense that requires registration as a sex offender.

Use of a minor in a sexual performance

Anyone who supplies, uses, employs, induces, or authorizes a minor to participate in a sexual performance may be prosecuted under Florida’s law. Florida’s law against using a minor in a sexual performance also applies to parents, guardians, and custodians who give consent for a minor who is in their care to participate in a sexual performance. A court may convict a defendant for use of a child in a sexual performance if the prosecution proves the following:

  • the defendant employed, authorized, or induced a minor to participate in a
  • sexual performance or the defendant gave consent as the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child
  • the defendant knew of the character and content of the performance
  • at the time of the performance, the victim was under the age of 18

Use of a child in a sexual performance is a second degree state level felony. If convicted, the defendant may be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000.

How law enforcement agencies investigate child pornography offenses

State and federal law enforcement agencies investigate suspected child pornography cases by conducting sting operations. During a sting operation, law enforcement officers go undercover to monitor specific groups of people or spaces in which child pornography-related offenses take place. The undercover officers pose as:

  • sellers of child pornography
  • people who want to purchase child pornography
  • people who produce child pornography
  • people who provide minors for sexual performances
  • minors who are vulnerable to child pornographers

Undercover law enforcement agents interact with people who have an interest in child pornography. The officers leverage each interaction to learn more about where child pornography is being bought, sold, and produced. They continue to infiltrate child pornography rings to discover who the players are and how deep the illegal activity goes. Once the police have gathered enough evidence and obtained the necessary warrants, they will typically conduct a raid and arrest people who have been engaging in illegal activity.

KEY BISCAYNE DEFENSE LAWYER FOR CHAT ROOM CHARGES

When interacting with people in chat rooms, through classified ads and message boards, and in other online spaces, undercover law enforcement officers are required to follow certain rules. An officer cannot induce someone to do criminal activity in which the individual would not have otherwise engaged. If you have been charged for soliciting a minor online, there is a chance the law enforcement officer with whom you interacted may have broken the law. The charge may be dropped if an undercover officer induced you to commit the offense by using dishonesty, coercion, or any other illegal tactic. Your attorney may challenge the charge against you by arguing entrapment as a defense.

Sexting and Florida’s child pornography laws

People are often unaware that sexting in Florida can lead to a child pornography charge. In Florida, it is illegal to exchange sexual text messages with anyone who is under the age of 18. The state’s child pornography laws apply to adult defendants and defendants who are under the age of 18. Adults and minors who exchange sexual text messages with anyone who is under 18 years of age are treated differently by Florida courts in most cases. Regardless, sexting with a minor is a serious offense that can lead to a prison sentence and required registration as a state sex offender.

Charges in Key Biscayne sexting cases between two minors

If both parties in a sexting case are under 18, the case will typically be adjudicated in the juvenile court system unless the case involves a more serious matter. Minors who have no prior charges for sexting may be ordered to pay a fine of up to $60 and required to complete up to eight hours of community service and a course on the dangers of sexting. The minor may also file a petition with the court to dispute the court’s decision. Failure to either dispute the charge or complete the requirements may result in the state suspending the minor’s driver’s license. Second-time minor offenders may be charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced to a maximum of 12 months in jail. For the third and subsequent sexting offenses, the minor 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.

Charges for an adult sexting with a minor in Key Biscayne

Adults who are accused of sexting with a minor in Key Biscayne are generally charged under Florida’s child pornography statutes and other laws that address sexual crimes against minors. Some of the most common laws prosecutors use to charge adults who exchange sexual text messages with minors include:

  • possession of child pornography
  • promoting child pornography
  • use of a child in a sexual performance
  • online solicitation of a minor
  • traveling to meet a minor

An accusation of sexting with a minor can have serious consequences. If you have been accused of exchanging sexual text messages with anyone who is under the age of 18, contact a Key Biscayne child pornography defense attorney.

Contact a Key Biscayne child pornography defense attorney

Our Key Biscayne child pornography lawyer will thoroughly review your case and determine the best strategy to defend you. Contact the talented team at Joffe Law to learn more about our child pornography legal defense services or to receive a case evaluation.

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