Basics of Possession of Child Pornography Charges in Florida
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Prosecutors in Florida and federal law enforcement agencies fight diligently to convict individuals who are found to be in possession of child pornography. Often, they refuse to plea these cases and will seek the maximum punishment possible. It is important for defendants to understand the nature of the charges against them and the potential penalties that can result from being found in possession of child pornography in Florida.
Definition of Child Pornography
Florida Statue 847.001 includes the definition of what is considered child pornography. This term can refer to an image, an image that is downloaded from the internet or an image on a website that shows a child under 18 years of age of a sexually explicit manner. Sexual conduct that may rise to the level of pornographic imagery includes sexual intercourse, masturbation, bestiality, S&M abuse, deviate sexual conduct or simulated sexual intercourse.
State Punishments for Possession of Child Pornography
Florida divides possession of child pornography into different categories that are based on the seriousness of the offense. Transmitting, possessing, manufacturing or distributing pornographic images of children is considered a third degree felony in Florida. This carries a maximum sentence of five years in a state prison in Florida along with a fine.
Sharing an illegal pornographic image with another can result in a charge of a second degree felony. This offense is punishable by up to 15 years in a state prison. Promoting or producing child pornography can be charged as a first degree felony. This offense carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in a state prison. This offense is subject to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 5 to 13 years.
Federal Punishments for Possession of Child Pornography
When sex offenses involve a child victim, charges may be filed at the federal level in addition to the charges at the state level. This can occur without violations of double jeopardy principles. Federal sex crimes carry much more severe consequences than other types of offenses. Potential penalties for federal charges of possession of child pornography include up to 40 years in federal prison for each count. These charges may have mandatory minimum prison sentences of 20 years imprisonment for each count. Large fines may also be imposed.
Registration as a Sex Offender
Being convicted of child pornography can also result in the requirement for the defendant to register as a sex offender in his or her state. He or she may also be required to register on the National Sex Offender Registry, potentially for the rest of his or her life.
In addition to the stiff penalties that include prison time, fines and registration as a sex offender, a defendant of child pornography charges may face other consequences that may have life-altering consequences. A conviction can cause a person to have barriers imposed in his or her life regarding employment and educational pursuits. He or she may lose professional licensure and may be barred from working around children, elderly individuals or other vulnerable populations. He or she may
be prohibited from living in federally subsidized housing and may have difficulty finding private housing.
Child pornography charges can also result in damage to a personís reputation as he or she faces negative social stigma. Being in possession of a single picture or video of a minor can increase the likelihood of a person being charged with child pornography possession offenses. There may also be consequences related to a personís rights to child custody and visitation.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Florida to Protect Your Rights.
When facing significant penalties like years behind bars and other life-altering consequences, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Florida to protect your rights. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can provide the experience, guidance and representation that can make a significant difference in a case.
A criminal defense lawyer can explore possible defenses to charges of this nature. Many times an innocent person may be wrongfully charged with possession of child pornography or with intending to distribute child pornography. The individual may share a computer with another individual and may not even be aware of the presence of such images. He or she may be attacked by a virus, malware or other negative intrusion that caused such images to be spread to a computer or other device. A lawyer can lodge a defense to show when his or her client is innocent. He or she may also make other challenges or assert other defenses, such as arguing the validity of a search.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.