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.
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.