If you follow the arrest reports here in Sarasota, you will see that almost once a week someone here gets arrested for some type of sex offense.
Sex crimes are not limited to the underprivileged, the ghetto or the uneducated.
Many of the people charged with possession of child pornography are well educated and articulate. In my opinion, viewing child pornography is a form of illness. The State attorney here in Sarasota has taken a scorched earth position when it comes to child pornography. The simple fact is that with the click of a mouse, a person can download hundreds of pornographic images of minors. The State Attorney here charges one second degree felony for each image. They intentionally run up the sentencing guidelines and the maximum penalties where men arrested for child porn face on average three centuries in prison and a minimum of thirty years in the Department of corrections.
This is just wrong.
Many of the men who look at this stuff were victims themselves in their childhood. Many have looked at it out of curiosity. The prosecutors have the misconception that if someone looks at child pornography, they go on to molest children. Every statistic demonstrates that this belief is simply untrue. True or not, the prosecutors have been convinced, and actually believe it, and go at these cases with a zealot type approach. The punishments being handed out are disproportionate to the crime. You can get more State prison time for simply looking at a picture than actually soliciting a minor on the Internet or traveling to meet a minor for sex. You will get more time for looking at a picture than in some cases manslaughter. You can cause a death and get less time than for looking at a picture.
As a sex crime lawyer handling cases all over the west coast of Florida I have been fighting and trying to convince the judges that the system is being manipulated and the guidelines artificially inflated to get long sentences.
In some cases there are legal defenses. Judge Riva was recently affirmed by the Second District Court of Appeal where she suppressed a confession. There has to be a limit on what the police are permitted to do. That is what makes us a free society. We live in times where many feel the police are not there to protect and serve but there to unfairly enforce the law. Thank God we still have juries and the presumption of innocence, although in sex cases, everyone is presumed guilty by the public. If you have questions or comments, call 941 366 3506