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Parkland Sex Crimes Attorney

Sex offense lawyers with 35+ years of experience

If you’ve been accused of a sex crime, it’s understandable that your first thought may be to panic. It’s not unusual to worry about how your friends and family will respond to you and whether your career will suffer. One of your biggest concerns is likely whether you could end up going to prison. At Joffe Law, we are qualified to provide expert legal advice and to effectively address your concerns. David Joffe specializes in representing people who have been accused of a sex crime in South Florida. Our Parkland sex crimes lawyers advocate for the accused, and we will fight diligently to protect your rights.

When to contact a Parkland FL sex crimes lawyer

When facing the possibility of being convicted for a sex crime, it’s never too early to contact a Florida sex crimes defense attorney. We recommend hiring an attorney from the moment you suspect you may be accused of a sex offense. Having an attorney by your side during the investigative phase will better position your lawyer to construct your defense and protect your constitutional rights. You should never speak to a law enforcement agency without first retaining a Parkland FL defense attorney.

Sex crimes as state and federal offenses

Although most crimes are state offenses, the federal government may also have jurisdiction over certain offenses. There are several factors that can automatically make a criminal case a matter of federal law. Some examples include:

  • the criminal activity crosses a state line
  • the criminal activity involves a foreign country
  • the criminal activity takes place on government land
  • the criminal activity involves a federal agency

The use of digital technology in child pornography cases often invokes federal jurisdiction in cases that involve sexual depictions of children. Digital images and videos are often shared among members of child pornography rings across state lines and sometimes in other countries. Nevertheless, any sex crime can potentially be a federal offense, depending on where the offense took place and who was involved.

When the state and federal government have jurisdiction over a case, the defendant may be prosecuted in both court systems. As a result, a defendant who faces state and federal charges may be sentenced separately for each set of charges.

Just Arrested in Parkland?
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.

Sexual assault, state sexual battery, and rape laws

Everyday people tend to use the terms sexual assault, sexual battery, and rape are often used interchangeably. Nevertheless, the meaning of each term can vary significantly when comparing federal law and the laws among different states.

Rape and sexual assault under federal law

Florida’s statutes do not specifically use the term “rape” in the sections that address sexual offenses. However, federal law specifically defines rape as a sexual act in which any of the following occurs:

  • the use of unlawful force against the victim
  • the use of unlawful force that is like to cause or actually causes death or grievous bodily harm to any person
  • threatening or placing the victim in fear that any person will be subjected to death, grievous bodily harm, or kidnapping
  • first rendering the victim unconscious
  • administering to the victim by force, threat of force, or without the knowledge or consent of the victim, a drug, intoxicant, or similar substance thereby substantially impairing the ability of the victim to appraise or control conduct

Federal law also recognizes sexual assault as a separate offense. In contrast to the federal rape law, the federal sexual assault statute does not include the element of physical force or the threat of force. The use of threats, fraud, deception, and taking advantage of the victim’s impairment are the key factors in a federal sexual assault charge. In cases that involve the victim being threatened, the prosecution is not required to prove the defendant intended to carry out the threat. An individual may be charged with for sexual assault under federal law if he or she commits a sexual act by:

  • threatening or placing the victim in fear
  • makes a fraudulent representation that the act serves a professional purpose
  • induces a belief by any artifice, pretense, or concealment that the perpetrator is another person
  • committing a sex act without the victim’s consent
  • committing a sex act when the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim is asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that the sex act is occurring
  • commits a sex act when the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim is unable to consent due to impairment by a drug, intoxicant, or similar substance
  • commits a sex act when the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim has a mental disease, defect, or physical disability

Federal law also recognizes aggravated sexual contact as an offense when one person touches someone else in a manner that would be rape if penetration had occurred and abusive sexual contact when one person touches someone else in a manner that would be sexual assault if penetration had occurred.

The penalties for federal sex abuse crimes vary based on the facts of the case. Assuming the victim is an adult, the maximum penalty for sexual assault is three years in federal prison and the possibility of the defendant being ordered to pay a fine. Aggravated sexual assault carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison with the possibility of a fine. In most cases, defendants who are convicted for a federal sex crime are also required to register on the federal sex offender registry.

Parkland sexual battery laws

Florida law uses the term “sexual battery” to refer to offenses that are more generally known as rape. State law defines sexual battery as the penetration or touching of the sexual organs of another, whether using a part of the defendant’s body or an object. Similar to the penalties for sex abuse under federal law, the penalties for sexual battery under Florida law varies based on the age of the defendant, the age of the victim, and whether an element of force, threatening, or coercion was present. If the victim is 18 or older, the offense is a second degree felony with a maximum penalty is 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Cases that involve aggravating circumstances such as:

  • a victim who is under the age of 16
  • the use of a weapon
  • a victim who has a disability
  • the victim is intoxicated or otherwise incapacitated

You should choose your lawyer carefully if you are facing a sex offense. Joffe Law is qualified to represent defendants in state and federal sex crimes cases in Parkland FL and surrounding areas.

Child molestation cases

Child molestation offenses are mostly addressed within the state’s Lewd and Lascivious laws. However, cases that involve the sexual exploitation of children may also spill over into other areas of the state’s legal code. Listed below are some of the most common laws under which child molestation cases are prosecuted in Florida.

Lewd or lascivious battery charges

Similar to federal law, Florida law prohibits contact with minors who are under the age of 16. Lewd or lascivious battery occurs if an individual who is 18 or older engages in sexual activity with a victim who is between at least 12 years old but under the age of 16. Encouraging, forcing, or enticing anyone who is less than 16 years of age to engage in any act that involves sexual activity is also lewd or lascivious battery. Generally, lewd or lascivious battery is a second degree state felony offense, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. The offense is a first degree felony offense if the defendant has at least one prior conviction for sexual battery or a lewd or lascivious charge against a minor.

Lewd or lascivious molestation under Florida law

Lewd or lascivious molestation is Florida’s most direct comparison to a state child molestation law. An individual may be charged with lewd or lascivious molestation if he or she touches a minor who is under the age of 16, whether clothed or unclothed, in any of the following areas:

  • the breasts
  • the genital area
  • the genitals
  • the buttocks

A perpetrator may be convicted under the lewd or lascivious molestation law if he or she forces or entices a minor who is under the age of 16 to touch the perpetrator. If the victim is a minor who is under the age of 12, lewd or lascivious molestation is a life-eligible first degree felony. The offense is a second degree felony if the defendant is over 18 and the victim is at least 12 but younger than 16. If convicted, the defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000.

Florida’s sentencing guidelines are slightly more lenient if the offender is under the age of 18. Cases in which the offender is under 18 and the victim is at least 12 years of age but younger than 16 are third degree felony cases punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If the victim is under the age of 12, the offense is a second degree felony.

Lewd or lascivious conduct

Lewd or lascivious conduct occurs when someone intentionally touches a minor who is under the age of 16 or solicits a person who is under the age of 16 to commit a lewd or lascivious act. Lewd or lascivious conduct is an act that is wicked, unchaste, lustful, licentious, or with lustful intent. If the defendant is under 18, he or she may be convicted of a third degree felony offense. If the defendant is over 18, the offense is a second degree felony.

Lewd or lascivious exhibition

State law prohibits the act of engaging in sexual conduct in front of anyone who is under 16 years of age. An individual may be charged with lewd or lascivious exhibition if he or she if he or she intentionally does any of the following:

  • masturbates
  • exposes genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner
  • commits any other sexual act that does not involve actual physical or sexual contact with the victim

Defendants who are over the age of 18 may be convicted for a second degree felony offense, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the defendant is a minor, the offense is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 if convicted. State law grants an exception for mothers who are breastfeeding their children in any situation.

Federal child pornography cases

Child pornography cases are often simultaneously state and federal court matters. Because digital transfer is the most efficient means of sending and receiving pornographic images of children, cases often span across multiple states and international borders. Internet technology allows members of child pornography rings to transfer digital files somewhat anonymously. The use of private networks and false IP addresses make it more difficult to trace the origins of illegal materials.

Chapter 18 Section 2256 of the United State Code defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct that involves a minor. Sexually explicit conduct is not limited to the depiction of a minor engaging in sexual activity. Any depiction that is sexually suggestive may qualify under the federal statute. It is also important to note that in child pornography cases, it is illegal to possess sexual images of anyone who is under the age of 18. The minimum age of consent according to state law or in other federal offenses like child molestation is irrelevant to child pornography cases. Your Parkland child pornography defense lawyer will be able to break down the charges you’re facing.

Visual depictions may include photo, videos, digital images, and any computer-generated image that is indistinguishable from an actual minor. Undeveloped film, undeveloped videotape footage, and stored digital data that may be converted into visual depictions of a minor are also included in the federal government’s child pornography statutes.

Child pornography possession cases in Parkland

Section 2252(a)(4) of Chapter 18 of the United States Code prohibits the possession of images and videos that depict a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Federal law defines sexually explicit conduct as:

  • graphic sexual intercourse or lascivious simulated sexual intercourse where the genitals, breast, or pubic area of any person is on display
  • graphic or lascivious simulated bestiality, masturbation or sadistic or masochistic abuse
  • graphic or simulated lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person

The penalties for possession of child pornography depend on the age of the minor who is depicted in the visual representation. If the minor is 12 years of age or older, the defendant may be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, lifetime supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted. Federal sentencing guidelines require 27 to 33 months of imprisonment before the court may consider any mitigating or aggravating circumstances if the defendant has no prior child pornography-related offenses and if the victim is at least 12 years of age. Judges are also required to impose at least five years of supervised release following the prison term.

If the victim who is depicted in the pornographic image is under 12 years of age, a convicted defendant may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, lifetime release, and up to $250,000 in fines. Federal sentencing guidelines call for 33 to 41 months of imprisonment before the court can take into account any mitigating or aggravating circumstances. The judge must impose at least five years of supervised release upon the convicted defendant’s release.

Federal child pornography production law

The federal law against sexual exploitation of children in Section 2251 of Chapter 18 of the United States Code addresses the production of child pornography. An individual may be charged under the statute if he or she does any of the following to a minor for the purpose of producing or transmitting a sexual depiction of a minor:

  • persuades a minor
  • induces a minor
  • entices a minor
  • coerces a minor
  • has a minor assist someone else
  • transports a minor

Parents, guardians, and anyone who has custody or control over a minor may be prosecuted for producing child pornography if he or she consents to the child being depicted in a sexual manner.

Involving a minor in the production of child pornography is a federal offense when the activity affects interstate or international commerce. Prosecutors are required to prove the defendant knew or had reason to know that the visual depiction would enter the stream of interstate or foreign commerce.

The requirement of proof that the material affects interstate or foreign commerce is very general. Proving the materials that were used to manufacture or ship the tools the defendant used to create the visual depiction entered the stream of interstate or international commerce is sufficient. For example, if a Parkland FL resident produces child pornography with a Sony brand camera and uses an HP computer that was manufactured in Nevada to edit the images, the federal government will automatically have jurisdiction over the case. Even if all of the equipment is produced in Florida, proof that the electronic equipment was shipped from the warehouse to the store where it was purchased by the defendant would also trigger federal jurisdiction because the process involves the use of a postal carrier, whether private or USPS.

Federal law against distribution, transmission, and promotion of child pornography

Title 18 of the U.S. Code contains several provisions that prohibit the distribution, transmission, and promotion of child pornography. Section 2252 (a)(1) prohibits the transportation and shipping of child pornography in the interstate or international stream of commerce. Section 2252 (a)(2) prohibits the receipt, distribution, and production of child pornography that has been moved or mailed in the stream of interstate or foreign commerce. Section 2252 (a)(3) prohibits the sale and possession with the intent to sell child pornography that has been produced or shipped within the stream of interstate or international commerce.

Distributing, transmitting, and promoting child pornography is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. If the defendant has one or more prior convictions for a similar offense or if the defendant has previously been convicted for conspiring to distribute, transmit, or produce child pornography, the maximum sentence is 40 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

How law enforcement investigates child pornography cases

Because people who produce, buy, sell, and distribute child pornography aim to conceal their identities when doing so, law enforcement agencies have to take a different approach when it comes to finding, investigating, and prosecuting child pornography cases. Federal agencies often work in cooperation with local law enforcement to conduct sting operations to catch people who commit child pornography-related offenses.

During a sting operation, one or more officers will go undercover and pretend to have an interest in child pornography. The officer’s role depends on the objective of the investigation. An undercover law enforcement officer may pose as:

  • someone who wants to buy child pornography
  • someone who produces child pornography
  • someone who sells child pornography
  • someone who provides children for the production of child pornography
  • a child who is vulnerable to illegal solicitations

The undercover officer interacts with people in spaces in which there is a suspicion that child pornography-related activity may be taking place. Some examples of the settings of sting operations include:

  • chat rooms
  • message boards
  • online classifieds
  • peer-to-peer networks
  • social media groups

When the police detect illegal activity, they gather the evidence they need to eventually conduct a raid and make one or more arrests. Law enforcement agencies are required to follow certain rules when interacting with potential defendants during sting operations and when seizing evidence. If the police violate the rules, the evidence gathered illegally may not be used against the defendant if the state or federal government files criminal charges.

Parkland defense lawyer for sex crimes cases

If you are facing a potential sex crimes case, you need a seasoned Parkland federal crime defense attorney who specializes in federal and state sex crimes cases. Call Joffe Law, P.A. at (954) 866-3395 for a case evaluation.

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