Sarasota Child Pornography Lawyers

Sarasota child pornography lawyers banner image Our Sarasota child pornography lawyers fully understand Florida’s child pornography laws. These laws were enacted to help protect children from being exploited in photographs and movies in which they are required to engage in sexual conduct. For example, Fla. Stat. 827.071 prohibits the possession, production, promotion, and viewing of child pornography. Generally, distributing, producing, and promoting child pornography is penalized more severely, as they are considered second-degree felonies. However, even possessing pornographic images that depict children can lead to decades-long prison sentences. This is because every image in a person’s possession is treated as a separate count, so if a defendant was found with 100 images on his computer, he could be charged with 100 counts of possessing child pornography in Sarasota. A single count is punishable by up to five years in prison, so a defendant facing multiple counts of possessing or viewing child pornography could end up spending the rest of his or her life in prison.

Electronic Child Pornography Law in Sarasota

Although Florida’s child pornography laws apply to physical photographs and movies, most cases involve the discovery of photos or images that were stored electronically or downloaded from the internet. For instance, a man was recently convicted of distributing child pornography after he used a mobile app to post and receive images depicting minors involved in sexual conduct. During the execution of the search warrant, officers seized two laptops and a cellphone, all of which had a combined total of 4,500 images and 84 video files.

Under Fla. Stat. 847.0137, transmitting child pornography via electronic device is also specifically prohibited. The law covers any medium that involves the use of electronic equipment, including the internet.

Our Sarasota Child Pornography Lawyers Can Help With Reclassifying a Charge

Florida statute 775.0847 allows prosecutors to reclassify child pornography-related charges to the next higher degree when a defendant is found in possession of ten or more images containing child pornography and at least one of the photos or videos depicted one of the following:
  • A minor under the age of five years old
  • Sadomasochistic abuse
  • Sexual battery
  • Bestiality
In these situations, a charge can be enhanced from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony or from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony. Showing this type of image to another person can also lead to additional charges of promoting child pornography in Sarasota, while evidence of three or more copies of the same video or photo will support charges of intent to distribute. Additionally, any defendant found in possession of a pornographic film depicting a child will receive an enhanced charge, regardless of its length and whether it has sound.

Federal Law

Child pornography is not protected by the First Amendment and is considered illegal contraband, so those who are found in possession of child pornography can also be charged in federal court. It’s often easier to obtain a conviction in federal court because 18 U.S.C. § 2252A defines child pornography much more broadly than state law, as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct, which means that a child does not actually need to be engaged in sexual activity for an image to qualify as child pornography. Federal law also covers a broader array of images, including those that:
  • Have been digitally generated, but appear to depict an actual minor
  • Have been adapted or modified, but appear to depict an actual minor
  • Are contained on undeveloped film
  • Are contained on undeveloped videotapes
  • Are electronically stored in the form of data, but can be converted into an image
Before a person can be charged in federal court, prosecutors must establish that federal jurisdiction exists, which means that the defendant used a means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce to view, distribute, possess, or produce child pornography. This includes using the mail system or the internet to transfer images. In fact, even if an image did not travel across state or international boundaries, federal jurisdiction may still apply if the materials used to download or create the image originated or had previously traveled in interstate commerce.

Federal penalties tend to be more severe than their state counterparts. For example, someone convicted of the federal offense of producing child pornography faces a minimum of 15 years in prison, although the sentence can be extended to 30 years. Sentences can also be enhanced if a defendant has prior sex offense-related convictions on his or her criminal record or the images involved were violent, masochistic, or sadistic in nature. In these situations, convicted defendants could be sentenced to life in prison.

Although defendants are permitted to raise defenses, they are prohibited from arguing that they did not know the age of the child or that they legitimately believed that the minor was over the age of 18 years old.
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