Cybercrimes involving child pornography have become more prevalent with the development of the internet. Child pornography is a multi-billion dollar a year industry and is one of the fasting growing crimes around the world. The State of Florida and the federal government have created a laws making it illegal to create or possess any material involving sexual conduct of a child under the age of 18. The illegal material includes photographs, motion pictures, representations or other presentations. The crimes itself is a specific intent offense which means the prosecution must prove that defendant knowingly possessed the illegal items. In state court, the possesion of child pornography is a second degree felony which is punishable up to 15 years in prison. While a mandatory prison is not directed under the state sentencing guidelines, anyone convicted of this offense is subject to being deemed a sexual offender or sexual predator by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. If you are being investigated or been arrested for possessing child pornography in South Florida, contact a Miami criminal defense firm experienced in defending sex offense cases.
While the state penalties may be limited, the federal sentencing guidelines regarding child pornography are much more stringent than the state guidelines. A Broward County man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for violating the federal child pornography laws. Scott Smith was arrested by FBI and ICE agents working together as part of the South Florida Crimes Against Children Task Force. Smith entered a guilty plea in federal court to charges alleging that he produced, distributed and possessed child pornography. The majority of the evidence against Smith was seized pursuant to a search warrant. The forensic inspection of his computer revealed numerous images and photographs involving child pornography. The arrest was part if an nationwide ICE investigation dubbed Operation Predator. The operation was created to identify, investigate and arrest individuals suspected of preying on abusing minors. Since 2003, the operation has been responsible for more than 12,000 arrests.
The federal government has stepped up its efforts to arrest anyone involved in child pornography. Obviously, the most sought after suspects are those that are involved in the production of child pornography. There has also been a worldwide movement to investigate all those who engage in the child pornography industry. According to the Department of Justice, the availability and accessibility of child pornography has skyrocketed with the development of the internet.
Law enforcement will investigate a suspect for many months prior to making an arrest for the sexual offense. It should be noted that police will sometimes get a warrant in an effort to seize computers containing child pornography. Without a warrant, the only way police can obtain a computer is by obtaining the consent of its owner. If anyone is ever contacted regarding a child pornography investigation, it is imperative to contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss the matter. Always remember, if the police show up at your step, do not give them consent to take your computer. You are only obligated to provide it law enforcement if they have a validly executed search warrant.
South Florida Man Sentenced to 30 Years on Child Exploitation Charges, EthiopianReview.com, April 10, 2010.