Another man was arrested over the weekend for possession of child pornography here in Sarasota.
More and more men are being arrested as a result of a new “spider” crawling the Internet looking for known images of child pornography being transmitted. When Google or some other provider identifies an IP address as having received or sent an illegal kiddie porn image, the police now have a program that will come into your computer without your knowledge and download items in your computer. This is true if you use certain file sharing programs. What people do not know is that even if you have the “sharing” disabled, every time you turn your computer on, it defaults to “file sharing”. The police have an application that is basically constantly “knocking” at your computers door.
The second you turn your computer on, the program defaults to “sharing” and the police begin downloading items from your computer.
The best way to not get arrested is to not commit a crime.
Do not download or view child pornography, even out of curiosity.
It is difficult to profile a person who gets involved with child pornography.
Viewers of child pornography come from all walks of life. Many of those involved tend to be white males between the ages of 26 and 40. Those involved include judges, doctors, professors, business leaders, academics, rock stars, soldiers and police officers. Most are heavy Internet users. There is a misconception that people who view child pornography go on to sexually abuse children. The statistics simply do not support this belief and in fact contradict it. People who view child pornography are not necessarily pedophiles. Less than ten percent, and according to some studies, as little as three percent are involved in abusing children. There are three basic categories of users.
Some people are simply browsers who out of curiosity view occasionally kiddie porn images, not saving the images or networking with others. Browsers often do not employ security strategies to avoid detection.In my experience as a child pornography lawyer, these are the ones that get caught the most often. As is often said, curiosity killed the cat.
Some people are what I call private fantasizers who view child porn to satisfy private fantasies. They generally do not network nor employ security to prevent detection. A person more deeply involved is the non-secure collector. They get the child porn in non secure chat rooms and are involved in networking. These offenders often get arrested because of interaction with other offenders and lack of security precautions. Further up the ladder is the “secure collector” that is heavily involved in collecting and gathering huge numbers of images categorized by types. The collection for them becomes an obsession.
Some people actually become “groomers”, physical abusers and producers of child pornography.
Unfortunately, in Florida, particularly here in Sarasota, law enforcement makes no distinction between the levels of offenders and treats all of them the same seeking long prison sentences. People are different and that is where the Florida Sentencing Guidelines fail to take into account the differences. As a sex crime defense lawyer, my job is to help the Court and the State attorney recognize the difference between those that deserve harsh punishment and others far down the ladder in terms of seriousness who need psychological treatment and counseling.
Everyone agrees that children should not be subjected to sexual abuse. It does irreparable damage to them for life. Everyone agrees that filming sexual acts with children should be punished. Almost everyone agrees that distributing kiddie porn should be punished.
How about the guy who simply out of curiosity simply views it?
Should he go to jail for 20 years for simply watching a video?
As a sex crime lawyer, I have been handling child pornography cases now for over thirty years. Every client and every situation is different. Every single case involves a man who has a different background, a different history and an underlying reason he may have viewed the prohibited material. Viewing child pornography is hard for the average citizen to understand.
The prosecutors here in Sarasota want to control sentencing, a function normally that of the Court.
I strongly believe that each individual person should be judged and sentenced on the merits of their case, not just a blind policy of persecution. It is an election year for both the prosecutor and judges. Being tough on crime gets votes. Having a heart, having compassion and being fair is viewed by some as weakness. There is a reason people look at this stuff. It is hard to understand. There is a misconception that people who look at pictures go on to become pedophiles. That simply is not born out by the statistics. Only a tiny fraction ofchild pornography offenders act out. I strongly believe that these people need counseling and help, not state prison. Destroying a life for simply looking at a video or picture makes no sense.
Probably one of the toughest decisions you will ever have to make is whether or not to accept a negotiated plea, a plea bargain, in a sex crime case. When you are charged with a sex crime like traveling to meet a minor, Internet solicitation of a minor, child pornography or date rape, ultimately you have to make a decision as to whether or not to go to trial or negotiate some type of plea. Unlike other types of crimes like possession of cocaine, possession of pill or driving on a suspended license, no two sex crime cases are alike. Every one of them are different. Deciding what to do is a hard call.
Most serious sex crime convictions have terrible consequences. All of them carry possible State prison sentences. That is not the big consequence. The real problem is becoming a registered sex offender. The real problem is becoming a registered sex offender. It affects where you can live, where you can work, where you can travel and your real personal freedom for the rest of your life. Sex offender probation is also tough. You have curfew, have to wear an electronic monitor, cannot live within a thousand feet of designated places like schools and have to go to all kinds of therapy, evaluation and counseling.
You only get good plea deals when you have an attorney that knows how to raise good defenses and negotiate with the prosecutors. You only get good deals from a position of strength and having a good chance of winning if you go to trial. The prosecutors almost always start off offering State time in prison as well as a sex conviction. It all depends on how strong the case is, whether or not the witnesses are strong and how bad the evidence is against you. Sex cases are tough but not impossible. Even when the cases seem hopeless and the evidence is against you, a good lawyer may be able to do damage control and get you a plea deal for a lesser offense or a lower sentence. Never give up hope.
I have resolved dozens of sex crime traveler cases in the last few years. In half of them we were able to get the charges reduced to non sex offenses like attempted child abuse, unlawful use of a two way communication device or some other computer crime. This is important because in those cases the client did not become a registered sex offender. In the non sex offense resolutions most of the men got probation. In the remaining cases where the evidence was overwhelming we were still able to get low sentences when we could show that the men were not really sex predators but merely made a terrible mistake in judgment.
You have to weigh the strength of the State’s case against the consequences of losing. The State also weighs the strength of their case against the defense lawyer they are coming up against. If the lawyer has not handled sex sting cases and is not familiar with defending them, generally, he will not get as good a deal. If the lawyer has not raised good defense issues, he will not get a good offer. In these types of cases the experience of the lawyer really matters a lot. Not all cases are winners. In some cases it is damage control. Having a good damage control lawyer can make a difference in years of your life. If you want to talk about your sex crime case feel free to call at 941 366 3506 or visit Sarasotaderdefender.com
Viewing, downloading or sexually explicit images or kiddie porn can get you arrested and put you in State Prison or Federal Prison for many years. Many people do not understand how computers store information, particularly when it comes to sexually explicit images of minors.
If you accidentally download child pornography, what do you do? Hitting the delete button will not remove it from your computer. It simply removes the history or directory to the image. The highly illegal image is moved to the “unallocated space” section of your hard drive where it can later be recovered by law enforcement forensic experts. There are a few golden rules. First, never take your computer to law enforcement. They will probably arrest you for possession of child pornography. Never attempt to send the image somewhere else. It does not get it off your computer and you may get charged with transmission of child pornography. Never take it to a computer shop like Bests or some local computer expert. They will report you to the FBI or the police.
One possibility is to re-format your hard drive or re-write over all the unallocated space. There are commercial software programs that can accomplish this.
The FBI and the sheriffs department regularly monitor activity in P2P file sharing services. If you visit sites like Limewire or Frostwire and accidentally download kiddie porn you for sure don’t want to get charged with possession or transmission of child pornography.
Not all criminal defense attorneys understand computers and the internet. As a sex crime defense lawyer I have questioned and cross-examined law enforcement forensics experts. You may be able to show that it was an accident or unintentional act. Do not become a registered sex offender for life.
If you have questions, call my criminal defense firm for a free consultation or you can visit my sex crime website at the www.childpornographystinglawyer.com. I do sex crime defense throughout Southwest Florida in Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, and Manatee counties 941-366-3506