Florida Child Porn Defense Requires Experienced Legal Team

In Coral Springs, a man accused of possessing some 300 files of child pornography on his computer is preparing to stand trial, where he faces up to 20 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

There is no question that the alleged sexual exploitation of children is one of the most reviled crimes for which you can be accused. Unfortunately, many people – from police to the public – are going to treat an accusation as gospel. These cases are very tough to defend because no one wants to take the chance of a child predator going free. Those accused of child sex crimes in Florida generally don’t receive the benefit of the doubt.

Still, there is ample evidence throughout history that the criminal justice system, for as much as it is revered, does not always get it right.

In this case, the 32-year-old defendant doesn’t deny the files were on his computer. However, he says the reason they were there was because his computer was overtaken by a virus.

At the federal level, there are agents who monitor certain file-sharing networks for images of child pornography. Red flags were raised by this man’s IP address. It was upon this basis that federal agents obtained a search warrant to search the man’s home and computer.

Authorities seized the computer and in combing through the files discovered illegal images that had been downloaded. Investigators claim the defendant confessed to downloading them.

The images were reportedly quite disturbing, including photographs and videos of children being raped and exploited repeatedly.

However, defense lawyers say that the defendant, who worked as a customer service representative for a telephone company, was a family man with a wife and two young daughters whose interest in pornography was limited to images of adults engaged in legal acts. The defense team said that while he was viewing adult pornography, he began to get a series of pop-ups on his computer. A computer virus took hold. Images of child pornography began appearing on his desktop.

His lawyer said he tried to stop it by shutting off the computer. But the images continued to be sent to his computer. Images ranged from children as young as 2, though most involved pre-teens between the ages of 10 and 11.

Authorities say the defendant admitted to searching for the images and downloading them because he was curious.

Of the challenges defense lawyers face in these cases, one of the greatest is the ambiguous nature of the legal term “possession” as it relates to a computer. Most laws that govern child pornography were originally written to outlaw tangible items, such as photographs, magazines and video tapes. But how does one “possess” a stream of digits that are somewhere on a hard disk of a computer? When you have a computer that is connected to millions of others via the Internet, it’s perfectly plausible that you might run across a situation where you may technically have “possession,” even if you didn’t explicitly request access.

Child pornography cases can be some of the most highly technical for defense lawyers. However, we find prosecutors too often try to use the powerful emotions the images evoke to steer the outcome.

A strong defense team in these cases is an absolute must.

If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.

Additional Resources:
Springs man’s trial on child porn possession starts, Sept. 18, 2013, By Erika Pesantes, Sun Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
South Florida Sexual Assault Suspect Convicted After Taking the Stand, Sept. 1, 2013, Fort Lauderdale Felony Defense Lawyer Blog

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