Charges for possession of child pornography in Florida have been steadily rising in recent years because of increasingly aggressive efforts of state and federal law enforcement. It’s an extremely serious charge which calls for an aggressive criminal defense. There are about 600 inmates in Florida prisons serving an average sentence of more than 12 years in prison on the charge. Many prisoners are serving much longer terms. If you face child pornography charges in Florida, contact the Rivas Law Firm at 407-644-2466.
Aggressive Enforcement of Child Pornography Laws
The typical defendant in these cases is a middle-aged white male with little or no criminal history. Most people get arrested after downloading images from an internet file-sharing program, chat room, or messaging app. State and federal law enforcement agencies have well-funded, special units that monitor internet traffic for child pornography. Using special software, police track offending images to specific computers. In other cases, tipsters inform police that they suspect someone of possessing child porn. With this kind of crime, law enforcement has little trouble obtaining search warrants.
Importance of an Aggressive Child Pornography Defense Attorney
Numerous large and powerful state and federal agencies are actively pursuing child pornography crimes in Florida. Florida law can punish passive possession of child pornography more harshly than sexual battery on a child. Also, critics say the sentencing provisions of the possession statute are outdated. Based on the idea that taking the time to build up a large collection of images demonstrates serious criminality, each picture or video counts as a separate count in the charge. However, with current technology, hundreds or thousands of images can be downloaded with a single click.
Possibility of Excessively Harsh Sentences
An infamous Florida child pornography possession case shows how easy it is to get caught up in a legal nightmare. In 2010, a detective and five cops barged into the apartment of a 24- year-old East Naples man, ransacked the place, and seized his computer. They hauled him off and charged him with possession of child pornography. At the trial, prosecutors introduced 206 photographs and 248 videos as evidence. The jury found him guilty on 454 counts.
The defendant, a stockroom worker who was living with his mother and brother at the time, had a history of brain disorders but no criminal record. The guidelines required a minimum of
152.88 years in prison. The judge sentenced him to serve 454 concurrent life sentences.
When the conviction was reversed, the appeals court noted that if the defendant had been charged with possession of child pornography with intent to promote, he could have been convicted and sentenced for only one second-degree felony count rather than 454 third- degree felony counts.
Child Pornography Charges Defense
Criminal defense lawyers may be able to challenge these charges in many ways. Experts have raised questions about the legality of the tracking software used by investigators to identify a suspect’s computer. In some cases, prosecutors have dropped charges instead of granting defense attorneys access to the software. Some defense lawyers claim that the software performs what amounts to an overly broad search by scouring areas of the computer that would be off-limits with a proper warrant. Sometimes a warrant is defective, or police investigators exceed the limits of a search warrant.
A vigorous defense of possession of child pornography charges includes qualified forensic computer experts to analyze digital evidence. Experts may be able to demonstrate “insufficent evidence” to prove that a computer user “exercised dominion and control” over the images on the computer – or indeed that a defendant even knew such images were on the computer. Some viruses can plant incriminating material on anyone’s computer.
Sometimes people download movies or other material from file-sharing networks unaware of accompanying illicit material.
A good defense attorney fights every aspect of the case. There may be issues of probable cause, illegal search and seizure, or due process violations. Call 407-644-2466 for a free consultation with the Orlando criminal defense team at the Rivas Law Firm.