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Florida Makes It a Crime to Own, Distribute, Etc. “Childlike Sex Dolls”

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In late May, Florida banned (i.e. makes it a crime to engage in) owning, distributing, and engaging in a number of other activities with respect to childlike sex dolls. Amongst other activities, the law prohibits someone from “knowingly having in their possession, custody, or control an obscene childlike sex doll” under the justification that owning these dolls encourages child predators.

However, some opponents of the measure argue that for some, the ability to own these dolls, actually deters pedophilia and prevents child predators from acting other impulses with actual children. In addition—as we discuss below—there may be a number of constitutional issues associated with labeling those who own these dolls as criminals.

Justification for The Legislation

In the Senate report on the legislation, the authors of the report cited experts who claim that using these dolls would likely positive (delete) reinforce pedophilic tendencies in some, possibly encouraging recidivism and resulting in a significant threat to children. Some are also concerned that the dolls normalize “unequal sexual power dynamics,” which are pronounced when adults molest children.

Problems: What Is the Crime, And Are They Protected Speech?

However, it is important to note that previous attempts to criminalize and prosecute individuals who have owned these dolls has been met with difficulty in terms of finding any kind of actual crime that has been committed. In addition, bans and criminal prosecution of those who own the dolls may potentially implicate constitutional rights: Specifically, the First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, while allowing for the government to restrict child pornography and obscenity because neither child pornography nor obscenity qualifies as protected speech.

Regardless of whether these dolls qualify as speech, it is important to note that attempts to prosecute and label ownership of these dolls as child pornography have failed. For example, judges have specifically dismissed pornography charges against those with the dolls under the reasoning that no actual child is involved in the possession of the doll, and therefore, child pornography cannot technically be charged. In addition, based on criteria established by the US Supreme Court when it comes to child pornography, it appears unlikely these dolls qualify as child pornography and can thus be regulated on those grounds precisely because they do not implicate actual children.

The US Supreme Court has also established criteria to determine whether something is obscene. According to the Court, the test is that something is obscene if:

  • The average person would find appeals to the prurient interest;
  • It depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and
  • Taken as a whole, it lacks serious artistic, literary, political, or scientific value.

Florida also has its own laws with regard to what is considered obscenity, defining It as distributing, selling, transmitting, etc. obscene materials. However, it is also important to note that the First Amendment protects the private possession of obscenity in one’s own home.

Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorney If You Have Been Charged with A Questionable Crime

If you live in Florida and have been charged with a crime that is questionable in terms of your protected rights, contact the experienced West Palm Beach criminal attorney at the office of William Wallshein, P.A. to find out how we can help.

Resource:

thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/445592-florida-bans-childlike-sex-dolls

https://www.wallsheinlaw.com/facial-recognition-programs-although-never-mentioned-in-court-have-become-a-routine-policing-tool/

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