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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.
If you have questions or want to speak with an attorney experienced in child pornography defense , call me, attorney Peter D. Aiken at 941 366 3506
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Why are there so many child pornography arrests?
Not a day goes by that someone is not arrested for either possession of child pornography or transmission of child pornography images. This is a phenomena and direct product of the computer age. If you go back twenty years, most of the arrests for child pornography were by Federal Authorities and dealt with child pornography in the form of movies, photographs, magazines that were imported and sold for a price. The United States Customs department and the FBI worked most of the cases. With the advent of the computer age, child pornography from around the world is available with simply the click of a mouse. The smuggling aspect of it as well as the economic motive no longer is the prime driving force. Most child pornography is free and exchanged by millions of people around the world.
Child pornography can take a number of different forms. It can be something as simple as nude pictures of teenage girls in compromising poses to real hardcore sexual abuse of infants and prepubescent children. The desire to look at child pornography can and often does date back to something that happened in childhood. As a Florida sex crime lawyer, it has been my observation that many times it goes back to something that happened to that person as a child. They may well have been sexually molested themselves. It may well be a psychological product of sexual trauma inflicted on them by a parent, relative or friend of the family.;
It is in many cases a treatable illness. The problem is that the Federal Authorities feel that the only way to deal with this illness is to lock people away in Federal prison for decades. The penalties if you get arrested by the FBI are horrible. I have defended educated people like doctors and lawyers who found themselves the victim of Federal prosecution for what was basically a weakness created by something in their own childhood. Incarceration is not the answer. Treatment is a far better and more cost efficient alternative. In defending child pornography cases I try and address the cause of a person’s problem and not necessarily the symptom, like possession of the kiddie porn.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines and the Federal Laws provide for mandatory minimum sentences, long prison terms and lifetime registration as a sex offender. As an experienced Florida child pornography lawyer I have a twofold approach to defending these cases. Do not assume that it is hopeless. There are technical defenses to these types of cases. They can be won. In cases where the evidence is hopeless (which I never assume) you may be able to convince the Court that a downward departure from the guidelines is appropriate and treatment is a better alternative. In the blogs to follow I will try and explain how the prosecutions come about, how they are defended and ways to lessen the impact of being charged in either the Federal or State Courts.
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