All written requests go directly to attorney Peter D Aiken’s email which is personal and confidential
Over the last few years there has been a shift in philosophy in how prosecutions for kiddie porn are filed and prosecuted in both Sarasota and Manatee County. The State Attorney’s office has taken their zero tolerance policy even further and now seeks to imprison defendants for what amounts to life sentences for simply viewing a picture or video. The prosecutors are manipulating the sentencing guidelines in an attempt to become judges themselves when it comes to sentencing. This is done by manipulating the Florida Sentencing Guidelines filing dozens of charges arising out of a simple possession situation.
In all of the recent cases, the State has charged twenty or more second degree felonies, running the guidelines through the roof, in almost every case. By manipulating the number of charges, and the statute they charge under, they can, and do, restrict the ability of the Court to impose a fair and just sentence. The law with respect to child pornography allows the State to enhance the penalty if a person possesses ten or more images and at least one of those images shows sexual battery of a child. The penalty goes from five years to fifteen years with this enhancement. The State has interpreted this to mean that for every ten images they can charge another second degree felony. This is an issue that ultimately will be decided by the Second District Court of Appeal. By manipulating the child porn guidelines they have upped the stakes and restricted the ability of the judges to be fair. In Sarasota, do not expect fairness from the State Attorney’s office when it comes to child porn cases.
People are now being sentenced to horrendous sentences that in my opinion constitute cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the eighth amendment of the United States Constitution. You get more time for simply looking at a picture or video than you do for actually committing a real sex crime. The laws with respect to the enhancements do not take into account the fact that with a single stoke of a key, dozens, even hundreds of images can end up on a computer. Modern technology means that a person can end up with hundreds and thousands of images in just seconds. There can be images on a computer that the person does not even know are there. The Windows program can also duplicate the images in different places in the hard drive making it appear there are more images.
As a sex crime and child pornography lawyer I have been fighting and will continue to fight the unfair policies here in Sarasota and Manatee. Other Counties in Florida are more reasonable and impose fair sentences but here things are different. What the prosecutors do not understand is that looking a pictures does not mean that the person will go on to molest anyone. It is in effect, a thought crime. It makes no sense that a person gets more time for looking at a video than committing a violent crime. Curiosity killed the cat and when it comes to pornography, child pornography, it can put you in prison for life. The bail bonds are also set high, in many cases higher than crimes involving violence. These cases are difficult and expensive to defend, but not impossible.