Child Pornography under Florida Law
Many people assume that anyone who looks at child pornography is either a child molester or will become a child molester. Scientific research shows that many passive viewers of these images never molest children. Nevertheless, Florida law provides for incredibly harsh sentencing requirements.
If you have been charged with any child pornography charge under federal law or the laws of the State of Florida then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case. if you are under investigation, never speak with any law enforcement officer or other person about the accusation until after you have consulted with and hired a criminal defense attorney.
We represent clients charged with child pornography crimes in Tampa, Hillsorough County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, Bartow and Lakeland in Polk County, Brooksville in Hernando County, Bradenton in Hernando County, and St. Petersburg or Clearwater in Pinellas County, FL.
Definition of Child Pornography under Florida Law
Florida Statute 847.001(3) defines the term "child pornography" to mean any image including an image on a web site or downloaded from the internet depicting a minor child under the age of 18 years old engaged in sexual conduct.
Florida Statute 847.001(16) defines the term "sexual conduct" to mean:
- deviate sexual intercourse;
- actual sexual intercourse;
- actual lewd exhibition of the genitals;
- simulated sexual intercourse;
- sadomasochistic abuse;
- sexual bestiality;
- actual physical contact with a person's unclothed or clothed genitals, buttocks, pubic area, or, if such person is a female, breast with the intent to gratify or arouse the sexual desire of either party; or
- any act or conduct which constitutes sexual battery or simulates that sexual battery is being or will be committed.
Florida Statute Section 847.001(16) further excludes under any circumstances a mother's breastfeeding of her baby from the definition of "sexual conduct."
Third Degree Felony for Possession of Child Pornography
Third degree felonies include transmitting, distributing, possessing, and manufacturing child pornography under Florida Statutes 847.0135, 847.0138 and 827.071. A third degree felony is punishable by five (5) years in Florida State Prison and includes an allegation of viewing or downloading any child pornography image.
Sharing the image with another person can increase the severity of the charge to a second degree felony which is punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison.
Promoting or producing the child pornography image carries the most severe penalties which can be charged as a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in Florida State Prison for each charged, and the crime can carry a minimum prison sentence of 5 to 13 years in Florida State Prison.
Separate Images Result in Separate Charges and Increased Penalties
Each image can be charged as a separate criminal offenses. The number of separate criminal offenses or charges generally increase the penalties. Prosecutors argue that each image requires effort and time to acquire and therefore is an indication of the interest and involvement of the person accused. However, when images are downloaded from the internet, it is possible to download hundreds or thousands of images at a time which decreases the likelihood that the number of images reflect a need for stricter punishment.
Distinctions Between "Child Erotica" and "Child Pornography" under Florida Law
Florida law makes a distinction between "child pornography" which is illegal and "child erotica" which is not illegal. The term "child erotica" includes children being photographed in a manner that does not meet the definition of sexual conduct even through the minor child is photographed in a partially nude or nude pose.
Child Pornography under Federal Laws
Child pornography crimes can be prosecuted under state or federal law. Federal law, under 18 U.S.C. Section 2256(1) and (8) defines child pornography as the visual depiction of a child under the age of 18 years old engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Illegal contraband would include any image of a child engaged in any type of conduct that is considered "sexually explicit." The term "sexually explicit" does not require that the image show the child engaged in sexual activity but can include even a picture of a naked child if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive.
The visual depiction can include:
- images or videos downloaded from a website or the internet;
- undeveloped videotape or film;
- data stored electronically which can be converted into a visual image; or
- images stored on a computer disk or other electronic forum.
Under federal child pornography laws it is illegal to receive, produce, distribute or possess any type of child pornography that affects foreign or interstate commerce. Federal jurisdiction to prosecute child pornography can arise when the visual image is moved across state lines or when the image was created using equipment or materials that were moved across state lines.
The jurisdictional element in federal child pornography charges can be satisfied when the pornographic images are moved electronically through a computer connection on-line, via e-mail, or the mail. As a practical matter, because of the nature of electronic communications most if not all such communications would invoke federal jurisdiction.
Additional Resources on Child Pornography Prosecutions under Florida Law
Child Pornography Computer Crimes - The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) website discusses child pornography including definitions, facts, history and child safety prevention tips.
Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney for Child Pornography Charges in Tampa
If you have been charged with or are under investigation for any child pornography case, sexual battery, or lewd and lascivious behavior in the Tampa Bay area then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.
We represent clients charge on a wide range of sexually motivated crimes including child pornography charges in Tampa for Hillsorough County, Bartow or Lakeland for Polk County, New Port Richey or Dade City for Pasco County, Bradenton for Manatee County, Brooksville for Hernando County, or Clearwater or St. Petersburg for Pinellas County, FL.