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Child Pornography Defense Attorney in Miami

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Allegations of possessing or transmitting sexual images depicting minors are some of the most troubling accusations a person can face. Social stigma may be immediate even prior to the filing of criminal charges, and the threat of long-term reputational damage is high. Conviction results in sex offender registration on top of other penalties. The criminal justice system in Florida takes these cases seriously, and no one within the system can afford to look soft on this type of federal sex crime in the eyes of the public. On top of state-level criminal prosecution, the chance of federal criminal charges arises in some cases. Due to the sensitive nature of these criminal allegations, people should look for guidance from a skilled Miami child pornography defense attorney familiar with both state and federal criminal courts.

Legal definition in Florida

Florida defines child pornography as images portraying people less than 18 years of age engaged in sexual conduct. Florida Statute 847.001 (16) broadly defines sexual conduct as real or simulated sexual intercourse, real or simulated sexual battery, deviate intercourse, masturbation or bestiality. Additionally, lewd images of genitals and pictures depicting the touching of a minor’s clothed or unclothed public area, buttocks or breasts qualify.

Child pornography laws distinguish between a person possessing the material and transmitting it. Some defendants in Miami may face only possession charges if no evidence suggests that they shared or sent the material to others. Evidence that indicates distribution of the material adds the charge of transmission. In both instances, prosecutors may apply charges for every single image in someone’s possession or that was transmitted. Multiple criminal counts greatly increase the chance of a lengthy sentence.

State-level penalties

The state has declared both possession and transmission to be third-degree felonies. Sentencing guidelines for each count call for:

  • up to five (5) years in prison
  • $5,000 fine
  • Five (5) years probation
  • sex offender registration between 15 years and life

Judges have discretion in how they apply these sentencing guidelines for defendants convicted on no more than three (3) counts. In those cases, the efforts of a child pornography defense lawyer in Miami could sway a judge to administer a lighter sentence, like probation instead of a maximum prison term. Sentencing discretion diminishes for defendants convicted on 4 or more counts of possession or transmission. At that point, a prison term will likely become mandatory.

Defendants found to be producing material depicting minors engaged in sexual conduct face enhanced sentencing because the law deems acts of production and promotion to be second-degree felonies. A maximum sentence of 15 years in prison could then apply. Enhanced penalties are also authorized for school authority figures convicted of transmitting images of a minor student from the school where the defendant worked.

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Possibility of federal prosecution

Like many criminal activities in Miami, federal law enforcement may take notice when crimes involve crossing state or international borders. People suspected of possessing child pornography may be accused of crossing state lines if they traveled between states with images on their mobile phones or computers. Additionally, downloading images on a computer device in one state from a server located in a different state or country may trigger federal criminal charges in Miami.

At the federal level, sentencing guidelines depend on whether the child depicted in the images was older or younger than age 12. A Class D felony could result from a charge related to possessing an image of a child 12 or older. This offense carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000 and supervised release for life. For convictions involving images of minors younger than 12, possession represents a Class C felony with a 20-year maximum prison sentence.

Investigation methods

State and federal task forces follow leads to determine where illegal images were downloaded. Internet service providers and search engine operators may inform these agencies about suspicious activity. Once law enforcement determines the physical location of an IP address associated with the illegal images, agents may ask for search warrants to enter homes and seize computers, mobile devices and physical media. Computer forensic specialists may then analyze the computers to uncover hidden images, traces of images left after attempts to delete files and downloading or uploading activities.

Based upon the evidence discovered, investigators may ask to interview a suspect or initiate an immediate arrest. In both situations, a person should not make statements before consulting with a defense attorney.

Defenses: Possession or transmission

The presence of images that appear to be child pornography may seem conclusive, but multiple defense strategies could be viable depending on the situation. Possible defenses are:

  • nonexclusive access to electronic device – The suspect used a device shared with other people and therefore may not be the person who broke the law.
  • images depict people age 18 or older – People in the pictures may appear very youthful but are in fact adults, which makes the images legal.
  • accidental download from unsolicited message – The suspect received a text message or email and clicked a link or opened a file without knowing that it contained illegal content.
  • computer hacking or virus – The suspect’s device was under the control of an outside party who use it to download or distribute illegal files.
  • unlawful search and seizure – Law enforcement did not follow procedures necessary for accessing a suspect’s possessions.

Computer forensics can determine when a file was downloaded or transmitted from a device. If the suspect can present evidence that someone else had control of the device when these events occurred, then prosecution against that individual cannot proceed. Hacking and interference from a virus can also be detected by analysis of computer activity. Proving accidental access to images may be demonstrated by showing that an individual tried to delete images very quickly.

Reach an experienced Internet crime lawyer

Anything that invites the suspicions of law enforcement places suspects in a precarious position. Investigators possess sincere and strong motivations to identify and punish people committing crimes related to child pornography. Their passion may cause them to use aggressive or misleading questions to draw out incriminating statements. Individuals asked by investigators to give an interview should be very wary of meeting with them outside the presence of a defense attorney. A child pornography lawyer in Miami, like Joffe Law, P.A., can protect a suspect’s rights during interviews. For suspects under arrest, legal representation can connect them with the resources to accurately investigate computer forensics and develop appropriate defense strategies. Anyone facing related accusations in Miami should schedule a consultation with us immediately.

AVAILABLE 24x7
Serious federal cases only.

AVAILABLE 24x7
Serious federal cases only.

AVAILABLE 24x7
Serious federal cases only.

AVAILABLE 24x7
Serious federal cases only.

AVAILABLE 24x7
Serious federal cases only.