Child Pornography Laws in Florida
March 31, 2015
Daniel Scott Saull, a youth basketball coach for the city of Boca Raton, was arrested recently and charged with possession of child pornography. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office traced images of child pornography to Saul’s IP address, and found pictures and videos of children, mostly girls, engaging in sexual acts with adults and with other children. Saull faces twenty four counts of possession of child pornography, one count of compiling computer pornography, and additional charges related to marijuana found in his house.
Florida’s child pornography laws are severe. Child pornography is defined as any image, such as a photograph or a video, of a minor engaged in sexual conduct. The manufacture, possession, and promotion of child pornography are all illegal in Florida. Frequently, those charged in child pornography cases are family members, friends of the family, or people with authority over the child, such as babysitters or clergy.
In Florida, it is illegal to possess, distribute, transmit, or manufacture child pornography. Penalties vary depending on the type of child pornography offense. The possession, control, or intentional viewing of child pornography is a third degree felony. If the photograph, video, etc., contains images of more than one child, each child viewed is a separate offense. This offense can be punished by any combination of:
- Up to five years imprisonment,
- Up to five years probation, and
- A fine of up to $5,000.
The possession with the intent to promote child pornography is even more severe. To promote means to sell, lend, share, or distribute the materials. The possession of three or more copies of the same image is evidence of the intent to promote the images. Possession with the intent to promote is a second degree felony in Florida. It is also a second degree felony to manufacture, direct, film, record, or produce child pornography, or to authorize or induce a child to participate in the production of child pornography. Second degree felonies are punishable by any combination of the following:
- Imprisonment of up to fifteen years,
- Probation of up to fifteen years, and
- A fine of up to $10,000.
Repeat offenders and those with prior felony convictions are subject to more severe penalties. Additionally, child pornography offenders are required to register as a sex offender with the Florida Sexual Offender Database.
Lack of knowledge or mistake as to the age of the child is not a defense to child pornography charges in Florida. Entrapment is a possible defense. For example, an officer may pose as a child online and get the defendant to do something that he or she would not have otherwise done. To succeed with the defense of entrapment, the offender must show that he or she had no predisposition to do the crime if the entrapment had not occurred.
Child pornography offenses carry serious legal penalties in Florida, and also cause serious social and economic consequences. If you have been arrested for or charged with a child pornography offense, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.