Articles Posted in Child Pornography

A person charged with a sex crime in Florida has a few options when it comes to entering a plea in court. In addition to pleading “guilty” or “not guilty,” the person can also plead “no contest.” This option means the person is not saying that he or she is guilty, only that he or she won’t contest the charges. As a recent case out of Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal shows, it is important to be fully aware of the potential penalties you’re facing before you enter a plea.

Legal News GavelDefendant was charged with various counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under 16 years of age, lewd and lascivious exhibition to a victim under 16 years of age, battery, possession of child pornography, and use of a computer server to seduce, solicit, or entice a child. He eventually pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 40 years behind bars. Defendant later appealed the convictions, arguing that he wouldn’t have pleaded no contest if the trial judge had adequately explained to him that he was facing as much as 101 years in prison on the charges.

Although the judge may have told Defendant about the maximum penalty for each of the offenses, he said he wasn’t aware that those penalties could be imposed consecutively (back-to-back) rather than concurrently (at the same time). The trial judge sided with state prosecutors, who argued that the judge met his responsibility by simply informing Defendant of the maximum penalties per offense. The judge rejected Defendant’s request to withdraw his plea.

Plea deals can be a very effective way to resolve a criminal case and limit the potential consequences of a conviction for a sex crime or other crime. That said, it’s important for a person considering a plea to fully understand what he or she is agreeing to do, the rights he or she is giving up, and the benefit (if any) he or she is getting in return. As a recent case out of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida shows, you usually can’t take the agreement back once you sign it.

Legal News GavelA defendant was arrested and charged with production of child pornography after police found that he was allegedly exchanging pornographic material with another person via email. The cops found the emails after arresting another man on similar charges in Tennessee. FBI agents and police officers obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s home in Jacksonville, where they seized a laptop computer and thumb drive. They later found some 650 child pornography images on the computer and thumb drive.

When law enforcement officers talked to the defendant at his work, he admitted to controlling the email account that the cops had found was sending and receiving child pornography, according to the court. He told the cops that he had used his iPhone to capture some of the images while babysitting a nine-year-old child.

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Search and seizure issues can often make or break a criminal case in Florida. State and federal laws impose a number of restrictions on law enforcement officers. That includes requiring them to have a “reasonable suspicion” to believe a crime is being committed or has recently been committed to stop a car or frisk a person on the street and to have “probable cause” to search a home. As the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida recently explained, however, there’s a big exception for cases in which a person voluntarily agrees to a search or to answering questions from the cops.

Legal News GavelThe defendant was arrested in 2011 for allegedly videotaping himself having sex with a minor. The victim of the crime led police officers to the defendant’s home on the day of his arrest. The four officers, who were in an unmarked truck and were not wearing uniforms, presented their police identification to the defendant’s uncle, and one identified himself as a police officer to the defendant when he appeared on the scene. The defendant agreed to speak with the officers, who confronted him with the victim’s claim that he had taped himself having sex with her. The officer asked for permission to enter his bedroom and found a number of items in the room that matched the victim’s description of the room. The defendant later gave the officer permission to photograph the room.

Another officer arrived on the scene and informed the defendant in Spanish of his right to remain silent and right to an attorney. He proceeded to answer questions and voluntarily allowed the officers to search his bedroom. He was charged with a number of criminal offenses, including engaging in a commercial sex act with a minor, producing child pornography, and possessing child pornography. He was eventually convicted on both of the child pornography charges. He was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.

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Florida child pornogrphy laws can be a complicated maze, especially for someone who has never been charged with a crime before. One thing that anyone facing criminal charges in Florida – and elsewhere – should know is that the burden is at all times on prosecutors to prove that you committed the crime with which you are charged. In child pornography possession cases, for example, the authorities have to prove that the person charged actually possessed the illicit material. A recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit decision involving a Central Florida man is an example of how “possession” works in the internet age. The short answer is that if you have access to electronic files, you are likely to be considered in constructive possession of them.Legal News Gavel

The defendant was living in Texas when the court said he received an email containing some 20 photos of child pornography. He moved to Tampa in 2012 to work on a shrimp boat and, soon thereafter, forwarded an email containing child pornography to another acquaintance. He was later arrested and charged with possessing and transporting child pornography. He was convicted on both counts after a trial in a federal court in Florida. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The defendant later appealed the conviction, arguing that he should have been tried and charged in Texas, rather than Florida. He claimed the possession charge, for example, was based entirely on the email that he received while living in the Lone Star State. The Eleventh Circuit disagreed. Regardless of where he was living when he received the original email, the court said the jury could have found that he possessed other child pornography after that time, while living in Florida. He was living in Tampa when he sent at least one illicit photo, meaning that he was in possession of it in Florida at the time.

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