Fort Lauderdale Child Pornography LawyersThe Fort Lauderdale child pornography lawyers here at the Sex Crime Defense Team are well-versed in all state and federal child pornography laws and regulations. We understand and agree that Florida’s child pornography laws were enacted to protect children from being exploited by adults involved in the production and transmission of materials depicting sexual conduct. To this end, Florida prohibits the possession, viewing, distribution, manufacturing, and transmission of material that qualifies as child pornography under Fla. Stat. 847.071.
Defining Child Pornography in Fort LauderdaleBefore a person can be convicted of a child pornography-related offense, prosecutors must be able to demonstrate that the material in question satisfies the state’s definition, which includes images that depict minors engaged in sexual conduct. To qualify as sexual conduct, an activity must fall under one of the following categories:
- Sexual intercourse, whether actual or simulated
- Any sexual act, whether actual or simulated, between a person and an animal
- Sadomasochistic abuse, which includes flagellation, torture, binding, and physical restraint if done to gratify sexual desire
- Lewd exhibition of the genitals
- Actual contact with another person’s pubic area, buttocks, or breast
- Actual or simulated sexual battery
Possessing Child Pornography in Fort LauderdaleThe possession of child pornography is a serious offense in Florida, so conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly possessed the images. This means that he or she intentionally viewed more than a single image over a period of time and either took steps to save the images or was aware that the images would automatically be saved once downloaded.
It’s also important to note that each image found in a defendant’s possession can be charged as a separate offense, which means that if 100 images are found on a person’s computer, then he or she can be charged with 100 counts of possession, each of which is punishable by a five year prison sentence. Additionally, defendants can be charged for every child that is depicted in a film or photo. If, for example, an image had three subjects, all of whom were children, then the defendant could be charged with three counts of possession for a single image.
Possessing child pornography is prohibited by both state and federal law and a defendant can actually be tried in both courts for the same incident. However, a person can only be tried in federal court if federal jurisdiction exists, which means that the images were either transmitted across state lines through the U.S. mails or over the internet or were manufactured using materials that had previously been transported in interstate commerce. The latter could include the cameras used to capture the image, the paper on which it was printed, and the tapes on which any video was filmed. In some cases, when the brand of material cannot be identified and traced, prosecutors can even prove this element by establishing that there are no plants or factories that produce that type of material in the state, which gives rise to the inference that the material was imported across state lines.
Transmitting Child Pornography in Fort LauderdaleFlorida law also specifically prohibits the transmission of child pornography by electronic device, which according to Fla. Stat. 847.0137, includes the internet. What constitutes transmission has been broadly interpreted by Florida courts, which have held that everything from using a phone to uploading images on a file-sharing program can qualify as transmission, as long as there is proof that a defendant loaded the images onto a certain computer file before authorizing a third party to access the same file.
Essentially, when deciding whether images have been transmitted, courts will assess whether the defendant’s actions directly caused the delivery of the material to another place or person. For this reason, courts have repeatedly found that using an app to send or receive images, uploading photos to a chat room conversation, or sending messages through a social media site constitute transmission of child pornography if the material in question depicts sexual conduct. This interpretation aligns with the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion on the matter, which acknowledged that when it passed the law, the state legislature intended that the definition of “transmit” be broader than merely sending an image to a single individual.
Those who are accused of this crime can be charged with a third-degree felony for each image that is transmitted and may also face federal charges for sending the images over the internet and across state boundaries.