Child Pornography Investigation on the increase during Covid 19

Attorney Peter D Aiken State and Federal Child Pornography Defense Attorney 941-366-3506

May 20 2020

The social distancing factor of Covid has caused a spike in kiddie porn investigations and cases.  With more and more people in “islolation” there has been a spike in the viewing of pornography and Internet chat and contact.  To the extent that there is an increase in the viewing of regular pornography, there has also been an increase in the viewing and sharing of child pornography.  Here is an interesting question.  Are various law enforcement agencies posting “links” to child pornography sites to create cases?  Law enforcement is prohibited from transmitting child pornography (the images themselves), but is there a prohibition against police agencies posting “links” to sites that have child pornography to create cases and arrests?  As a child pornography defense lawyer, I am beginning to see a suspicious pattern emerge in some of the investigations.  In the perfect world, this should never happen, but we don’t live in a perfect world and not all law enforcement officers play by the rules.

I have also seen an increase on cases involving smart phones.  Everyone thinks of child porn as being a computer type crime, but, smart phones are computers.  With applications like “Snapchat” an image can be transmitted to a person who is not even remotely looking for or asking for child pornography.  Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to this type of accidental receipt of child pornography.  Also, on sites like Omegle, illegal videos can be created and sent and the recipient may accidentally get something he or she never intended to receive

What do you do if you receive a video or image you never intended to get? Some people think that if you hit delete, it is not deleted.  If you take your computer somewhere to get it reformatted or “cleaned” you run the risk of being reported as a suspect yourself.  Accidentally getting something on your computer creates a huge problem in how to effectively destroy or delete an image you absolutely do not want.  Some of the “cleaning” programs may or may not work.

The best thing to do is to take steps so you will never even accidently get something illegal.  Stay away from peer to peer file sharing sites.  Only open emails from friends and people you know and trust.  Never, no never engage in chat on any site with anyone that even remotely hints they are underage.   Never send a picture of your privates (a dick pic) to anyone.  Nothing on the Internet is real, and you may think you are chatting with an adult on a dating site, but it may in fact be a 15 year old and you may find yourself getting arrested for transmitting a image harmful to a minor.

The Internet investigations are actually on the increase.  These are cases the police can investigate and prosecute without ever leaving their offices.  The bottom line is the best way to not get arrested is to not commit a crime.  Never chat with anyone underage for any reason.  Never send a sexually explicit image over the Internet to anyone.  This is particularly true if you are using “Grinder” or one of the other gay dating sites.  The cops are trolling Grinder looking for men to entrap with bait and switch tacticsThey will post as an adult, claim at first to be 19, and then after contact, claim to be 14 or 15.  Never use Grinder to hookup with anyone underage

In the meantime, Stay safe, stay well and continue with social distancing.

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Omegle and Child Porn Dangers

The Internet is a dangerous place. What starts off as innocent chat can lead to getting arrested for things like soliciting a minor for sex, transmission of harmful material to a minor and even sexual battery.  Many adults go on Omegle for live video random chat.  What people do not know is that you can end up chatting with a cop.  You can end up unknowingly chatting with a minor.  As a Florida sex crime lawyer, I have handled cases that started off on Omegle and ended up in the criminal courts.  I once represented a young man who thought he was video chatting with an adult only later to find out the young lady was underage.  Unfortunately, even though she sent him nude video pics and said originally she was an adult, it turned out later that she was 15.  He fell for a young girl that was out to have a sexual encounter.  In Florida, mistake of age is not a defense.  Even if a fifteen year old lies, even if she has false ID, it is not a defense because a 15 year old cannot consent to sex. 

It is even worse when the girl is seventeen.  Even if she looks 25, sometimes the man can still get arrested if he is over 24 years of age.  The Internet is Dangerous and you cannot believe anything is real or anything is the truth.  I have handled over 40 Internet sex sting cases and almost every one of them, the man was not looking for a child.  In almost every case, it was a police undercover officer, pretending to be an adult, and then later claiming to be a child.

Here are a few helpful tips.  Never chat with a minor about anything.  Nothing good comes of that.  Never, no never, send a dick pic to anyone, even an adult.  You don’t know that they are really an adult and if it turns out to be a minor you can find yourself being arrested, prosecuted, convicted, sentenced to State prison and become a registered sex offender for life.  Over and over I have represented men who absolutely had no intention of hooking up with a minor.  The undercover police chatters are “masters of seduction” when it comes to luring men into traveling to meet a minor. They will work the men with compliments, like, “you are really cute”, “guys my age are so stupid and immature”, “I am not very experienced”, “I bet you can teach me things”.

There is another great Internet danger.  Some of the Internet dating sites match up people with GPS programs.  The cops post as an adult female 19 or 20.  The dating site matches the profile with an adult guy 20 to 25.  After the random match, the undercover cops say “sorry I lied, I am really only 14” or something like “I can’t drive yet” or “I am still in school.

Common sense is that any one hearing that should walk away, but the cops are really good at luring guys in.  They will say “my mom is away for night”  or “I have the house to myself” or “my parents are away for the weekend”.

Guys….Newsflash…There are no real 14 or 15 year old girls that want to hook up with some older dudeIT IS ALWAYS A COP!.    Some people think that if you ask a person if they are a cop they have to tell you the truth.  That is a total myth and 100% untrue.  They don’t call them undercover cops for nothing.

My advice….Stay off Internet dating sites….NOTHING IS REAL….Stay off random video chat sites like Omegle.  The best way to not get arrested is to not commit a crime.

Defending sex crime cases is tough and  public opinion is always against you.  As a sex crime lawyer,

I try to warn people about the dangers of the Internet.  It is particularly dangerous for young socially introverted young men and even more dangerous for men with a disability like autism or a learning disorder.  The police prey on weak young lonely introverted men.  The get the low hanging fruit and the weak young guys that fall for the bait and switch.  They claim they are protecting the public, but the truth is, they are the sex predators. 

How much time will I do on a Florida prison sentence?

Attorney Peter D Aiken State and Federal Child Pornography Defense Attorney 941-366-3506

How much time will I do on a Florida prison sentence?

Right now, that is difficult to predict.  It depends on what the underlying offense is.  Is there a minimum mandatory sentence?  Are you eligible for gain time?

The law is about to change?  Florida Senate Bill 394 is working its way through the Senate.  If passed, it will change the amount of time served from 85% or a sentence to 65% and for many prisoners,  and that can make a huge difference in thousands of sentences.  If they make it retroactive, it will make thousands  eligible for immediate release.  The Senate is going over the language of the bill and no one yet knows what will get passed, if anything, much less whether this Governor will sign it.

Contact your Florida Senator and ask him to pass this bill.  For first time non violent offenders prison sentences increase recidivism.  Long prison sentences should only be for people who are a danger to society.

For Example, here in Sarasota, the State attorney, in child pornography cases always files 40 second degree felony charges and intentionally runs up the Florida Sentencing guidelines, making people score for decades in prison.  In Sarasota and Manatee County, on a child pornography charge, you can get more prison time than on many violent contact crime felonies.  Did you know that with one click of a mouse a person can download dozens of pictures or videos which our State Attorney files as individual separate “Counts”.  The State does this on purpose here in Sarasota and Bradenton to force the judges to impose horrible sentences.  On a forty count charge the penalty can be six hundred years.  This is crazy. This is absolute guideline manipulation and is a practice that needs to stop.  It is crazy that here in Sarasota, that you will get more time for looking at a picture than committing a real contact crime.

The State Attorney mistakenly believes that people who look at pictures go on to molest kids.  That is absolutely not true but he and some of his assistants believe it.  The truth is that many people who look at child pornography do so because they were themselves sexually molested as kids.  Sadly, here in Sarasota, the judges so far have not taken any steps to curb this abuse.

As a Sarasota sex crime lawyer, I have tried to educate some of the prosecutors and help them understand a little more about why people look at child porn.  Their hands are tied by those at the top and even if they disagree, they always file forty counts and seek life in prison on men for just looking at pictures.  Things really need to change here in Sarasota.  In the meantime, as a child pornography lawyer I will keep fighting the fight not only to win the case but to convince the judges to impose fair sentences, and not life in prison. 

BitTorrent and other peer to peer file sharing programs are dangerous to use

Child pornography arrests are on the rise.  More and more people who use peer to peer file sharing programs have found themselves arrested for possession of child pornography or transmission of obscenity or transmission of Child pornography.

In almost every case, the person arrested has used a peer to peer file sharing program.  The prosecutors have taken the position that if you simply use a program like that, the fact that it defaults to “sharing” makes a person guilty of transmission of child pornography.  They claim that if you agree to the terms of use (which involves sharing) you are in effect transmitting.

It is possible to accidentally come across child porn when you are simply looking for or at adult porn.  Many people think that when you delete a video that it is gone.  That is simply not true.  Delete does not delete.  Many times the video simply goes into unallocated space on your computer and is recoverable by law enforcement computer programs.

All child porn images have a hash value.  That is like a fingerprint.  When a known image is sent or received, it triggers a report to law enforcement.  ICAC generates a report to local law enforcement that a particular IP address has either received or sent the illegal video.  Local law enforcement has a program that then targets your IP address and your computer and detectives can secretly come into your computer and extract the image.  When they do this, even without your knowledge, they then get a search warrant and execute it, seizing all electronic devices at that IP address.  The prosecutors then charge the person with transmitting child pornography, even if the person does not even know the image was extracted.  The simple answer is “Never even view temporarily any image that can possibly be child pornography”.  The best way to not get arrested is to never even look at anything that is even close to child pornography.  Adult porn is ok, but images of teens are prohibited.

A child pornography arrest is a terrible event.  Your arrest becomes public knowledge.  Many people are instantly terminated from their job.  Friends and relatives abandon them and they are scorned by the public.  This can happen even if the possession of child pornography was accidental or unintentional.  At the very moment such an image is coming to you, law enforcement can be extracting it.  They may see it on your computer even before you do.  Child pornography could be stopped entirely if instead of allowing the images to be transmitted, they were simply blocked.  If they can identify it and report it, they should be able to simply block it.

Child pornography convictions carry serious State prison sentences.  The Florida sentencing guidelines are manipulated by the prosecutors by the filing of multiply individual Counts.  In Sarasota County for example, in almost every case the prosecutors file 40 charges scoring the person for decades in prison.  The very simple answer is to simply not use a peer to peer file sharing program, even for something like downloading music or movies.  Most movies and music is protected by copyright anyway and you should not be downloading it.

As a Sex Crime Lawyer,I often encounter people who may have only viewed a few isolated images in the process of looking at adult porn.  It can happen.  Sadly, many of the “cleaning” programs for computers do not work.  I repeat, delete does not mean it is deleted.

Even if a video is deleted, law enforcement can still determine if it was ever there and if it was ever viewed.  Since the video has a hash value, it will be referenced in what they call a “Windows jump list” and law enforcement can tell the exact time and date it was on the screen.  Of course the answer is to never intentionally view kiddie porn, but accidents do happen.  When a person is looking at adult porn, many times the file name is deceptive.  A person may download a file with a particular name or description only to find out it is something else and is illegal.  Defending a child pornography case is difficult because of the public disgust and outrage that children are being sexually abused.  The person charged has an uphill battle in a jury trial and the lawyer defending that person really has to understand not only the law, but how the forensic detectives go about proving their case.  They still have to prove it was “you” behind the computer.  For that very reason, no one should ever consent to being “interviewed”.  You don’t want to go to jail over an accidently viewing.  In America, you have a right to remain silent.  Sadly, some people just don’t have the ability to keep their mouth shut.  If someone reads you your rights…shut up…and exercise your other very important right, that being, your right to have an attorney. 

If a warrant has been executed on your home, call a sex crime lawyer immediately.  Do not wait to get arrested.

Why are Child Pornography Arrests on the Rise in Florida?

Just this week, there were arrests in Polk County, Lee County and several other counties in Florida where men were charged with possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.  These types of cases are on the rise because of new technology in the hands of law enforcement.  People continue to use peer to peer software to view kiddie porn and in doing so, unwittingly allow police to come into their computer without a search warrant.

When a child porn image is transmitted over the Internet, it is identified and reported to law enforcement by NCMEC.  All child porn video or still images have an identifiable “hash value”.  That is the same as a fingerprint.  In Sarasota County, and elsewhere, detectives are assigned to identify the location where images are sent.  They get a report from NCMEC showing the date and time of the transmission.  They then identify the IP address and proceed to get a search warrant.  It is like shooting fish in a barrel for the police.  Sarasota County leads the state in these types of cases.  In Sarasota County, the State Attorney has chosen to take an incredibly hard-line approach and in almost every instance charges 40-second degree felonies, running the guidelines to the point that most defendants face twenty years to life in prison.

In Sarasota County, most child pornography defendants face more time for looking at a video than committing a homicide.  Viewing child pornography is a treatable illness and sending someone to State prison for life is inhumane and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.  In Sarasota, the prosecutors simply do not care. 

The best way to not get arrested is to not commit the crime.  If somehow, you find yourself looking at this stuff, seek professional psychotherapy as soon as possible.  Viewing pornography and particularly child pornography can be addictive.  If you look at this material, you need professional mental health treatment before it is too late and you find yourself arrested and facing life in prison.  As a sex crime lawyer, over and over I see men getting arrested for child pornography as a result of what appears to be an Internet addiction.  Yes, you can get addicted to the Internet.  Yes, you can get addicted to viewing child pornography.  Get help immediately.

Most lawyers do not charge for an initial confidential consultation.  I can give you the names of several good psychologists and doctors that specialize in treating this addiction.

It is only a matter of time until you are caught.  Deleting it from your computer does not delete the fact that as you are looking at it, the police are secretly extracting it from your computer.  As you are receiving it, the police are downloading it from your computer and getting a warrant.  They have a law enforcement version of BitTorrent and Emule that hacks your computer and downloads images whether you are sitting at your computer or not.  The simple answer is, stop looking at this stuff.  If you have a child pornography addiction, get help before it is too late.

Child Pornography Arrests Continue in Sarasota County

Attorney Peter D. Aiken
Sex Crimes Defense
941-366-3506

Capital Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Peter D Aiken

ABOUT ATTORNEY PETER D. AIKEN

Ever since the Feds shut down Craigslist Casual Encounters and Backpage.com there has been a shift in the types of sex crime investigations, particularly here in Sarasota, Northport and Bradenton.

Local law enforcement has shifted its focus from Internet sex stings to investigating and prosecuting child pornography. The sad truth is that transmission of child pornography could be stopped or at least reduced by 95% by simply blocking its transmission. We need more crime prevention, instead of imprisoning men for looking at pictures or videos.

The State attorney in Sarasota and Manatee has a policy of filing as many charges as possible and seeking as long a sentence as is allowed in child pornography. There is a mistaken belief that men who look at kiddie porn images go on to commit crimes against children. In almost every case here in Sarasota, the State Attorney files 40 counts of second degree felonies. That runs up the sentencing guidelines, and runs up the punishment to 20 to 50 years in prison, simply for looking at something on a computer. So far, the judges have gone along with this policy and have imposed incredibly harsh sentences that constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Many of the men arrested are mentally challenged or have some degree of autism. I have represented many autistic defendants and have found that most of the prosecutors simply do not understand this mental condition. The police for sure do not, and target the low hanging fruit, in making unnecessary and often cruel arrests.

Sadly, many criminal defense lawyers do not understand how to defend a person with Autism. Often, the person has not been formally diagnosed with autism and has been simply run through the education system as a “special needs” student. Everyone knew he has a problem but no one ever formally diagnosed it. Defending the mentally challenged person is a challenge itself.
Why not just stop child porn transmission? Law enforcement routinely gets reports from the Internet providers each and every time a child pornography image is sent or received. Each child porn image has a “fingerprint” called a “hash value”. Law enforcement knows the second it is sent. Why not just pass a law that blocks it instead of letting it go through?

Instead, the police identify the IP address and the computer “signature” and set about to prosecute rather than prevent. The police have a program that allows them to secretly target a person’s IP address and to secretly enter a person’s computer and download images. They can view and download the child pornography image at the exact moment the person is receiving it. The police may get the image even before the person sees it. The person may have never even seen it by the time they get arrested. All of this could be prevented

As a child pornography criminal defense lawyer I have tried to educate the State Attorney and the local judges as to the terrible inequities of the harsh policy presently being followed. It is my personal belief that many of the men who look at this stuff do so because of sexual abuse they suffered as a child. It is a treatable illness that needs treatment, not imprisonment.

Crime prevention is more important than crime detection and crime punishment. If you prevent it, you don’t need to detect it or prosecute it.

No one in Sarasota County law enforcement seems to understand that.

I welcome your comments and if you have questions about child pornography situations, give me a call at 941 366 3506

Child Pornography Crusade in Sarasota and Manatee

Attorney Peter D Aiken
State and Federal
Child Pornography Defense Attorney
941-366-3506

The Sarasota Sheriff’s office and the Sarasota State Attorney’s office have embarked on a zero tolerance crusade to apprehend and imprison for life anybody who looks and kiddie porn.

In Sarasota and Manatee County, the State Attorney is manipulating the sentencing guidelines by filing 40 second degree felonies in almost every child pornography case. The Courts, so far are going along with it, refusing to rectify this abuse of power by the prosecutor. People are getting 30 to 50 year sentences for simply looking at a video on the Internet. Is Sarasota county, a defendant will get more time for looking at a picture than actually committing a contact offense on a minor. The State attorney here will hit you with more time for child porn than homicide.

With a click of a mouse, a person can down load, sometimes accidently, dozens of videos or pictures in a matter of seconds. Many times the person has no idea what has come into his computer. In a micro second, the way the State interprets the law, a person can in their view, commit dozens of second degree felonies scoring them for life in prison. The State’s crusade is a misguided and mean spirited perversion of the law. What they do not realize is that most of the people who look at child porn do so because in their youth, they were victims of sexual abuse. They view the videos not through the eyes of some monster that preys on kids, but are reliving events from their childhood past. Viewing child pornography is an illness. All of this looks good and makes good press when the State attorney comes up for reelection but the reality is that is working a terribly unfair and terrible hardship on men who in their past were victims themselves.

The sad result is that the courts so far feel constrained to allow the State to manipulate the sentencing process, under the theory that their hands are tied, and they cannot vary from what is “guideline”.
It is a sad day when the prosecution controls the sentencing process and for all practical purposes the judicial discretion to impose a “fair and just” sentence is subverted.

The prosecutors have a terribly misguided belief that if a person looks at a video, they will go on to commit a crime on a child. All of the research shows just the opposite. I try to educate the public and warn men to never, no never, look at any video or still pic that can even remotely be a minor. No one should ever use a peer to peer file sharing program like Bit Torrent or Shareza for anything.
Some people accidently come across child porn while viewing adult porn. They mistakenly think that when they hit “delete”, it is deleted from their computer. It is not. The State’s forensic experts can “carve” and download even “deleted” images. The simple answer is, never, no never look at child porn, even out of curiosity. Curiosity killed the cat.

In Sarasota, curiosity can land you in prison for life.

The State’s crusade is doing more harm than good. They simply do not understand why some men go on to look at this stuff. The answer is treatment, not life in prison

 

ABOUT ATTORNEY PETER D. AIKEN

Can law enforcement secretly search your computer for Child Porn?

Attorney Peter D Aiken
State and Federal
Child Pornography Defense Attorney
941-366-3506

They can, and they do! If a person uses a peer to peer file sharing programs like Bit Torrent or a similar program, law enforcement can, and will, search your computer without your knowledge.

There has been an explosion of child pornography cases, particularly here in Florida. Most of the cases involve a “secret” search of a person’s computer by specially modified law enforcement peer to peer programs like “Bit Torrent LE”
ICAC, a federally funded organization, maintains an “inventory” of known or suspected child porn images or videos, categorizing them by “hash values”. There is another law enforcement application that can track and identify any IP address that receives or transmits an image with a known hash value. Once that IP address is identified, local law enforcement uses their special application to tap into that person’s computer and extract files without their knowledge. That is then followed by a search warrant, a raid, and an interrogation. The search warrant in every instance comes not before but after the secret search. Law enforcement justifies this secret search as “consensual” claiming that if a person uses a file to file sharing program, “they have consented to share”.

I am challenging this “claim” in several of my current child porn cases and the legality is yet to be determined.

Defending child porn cases is a tough uphill battle. The prosecutors go after violators with a vengeance and here in Sarasota and Manatee County routinely file 40 counts, running the guidelines up to 30 years in prison. The challenge is educating the judges and getting people to understand what the police are really doing. The stigma of kiddie porn is such that some people feel the end justifies the means. It is only a matter of time until this practice is exposed and the illegal searches are found to be illegal by the Courts.

About: Attorney Peter D. Aiken

Law Enforcement Linking to Kiddie Porn?

Attorney Peter D. Aiken
Sex Crimes Defense
941-366-3506

April 3 2018

About: Attorney Peter D. Aiken

In recent months there has been an increase in Child Pornography arrests.

There seems to be a common thread is some of those cases. Almost every one of the cases involves a peer to peer sharing program like Bit Torrent. Almost every case involves someone that clicked on a link telling them that they had to download a peer to peer program to proceed. Many people found themselves in a situation where unintentionally they “linked” to images or videos containing child porn. Even if they immediately deleted the unwarranted material, a secret law enforcement application had detected the fact they clicked on the link, and the law enforcement application secretly entered their computer and downloaded the material they were trying to delete. Is it is possible or likely that law enforcement agencies are intentionally luring people to click not on child pornography (which would be illegal) but instead tricking people into clicking on links to child pornography? Time will tell as these cases proceed through the courts.

If you have been arrested for possession of child pornography, be sure your criminal defense lawyer explores the possibility that law enforcement,with this entrapment technique, is actually creating a crime instead of detecting crime.
It would be so easy to stop child pornography. If there was legislation that made the “servers” liable for transmitting illegal known images, child porn could be reduced by ninety percent instantly. The FBI has a library of known hash value kiddie porn images. Just make it illegal for the Internet providers to allow those known images to be transmitted. If they can detect it and report it to ICAC, why not just prevent it. Instead the providers alert law enforcement and the images are traced to IP addresses. The simple answer is to stop the transmission to begin with.

Now that Craigslist and Backpage.com are tightening up on the “personal” ads (which they should have done years ago), the ICAC investigators are going to have to find a new way to entrap people. My prediction is that there is going to be a spike in child pornography prosecutions here in Florida. In Sarasota County many people face more time in State prison for looking at a video than actually committing a sex act. The best way to avoid prison is to not commit a crime. Do not let curiosity get the best of you. If you are on the Internet, and see a warning saying something like “the material you are about to see could be illegal”, do not proceed. Do not click on something out of curiosity. If you do, law enforcement will come into your computer. These are bait teaser links trying to get people to unintentionally commit a crime. As a sex crime lawyer I don’t want to see innocent people lured into doing something out of curiosity. Remember, “Curiosity killed the Cat”

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