In Florida, it is a felony to possess, distribute, transmit or manufacture child pornography. If you are convicted, any of these charges could result in heavy fines, a long prison sentence and lifelong registry as a sex offender. These consequences affect educational opportunities, employment and housing options. However, not everyone facing child pornography charges is guilty of a crime. If you’ve been charged with possessing, distributing, transmitting or manufacturing child pornography, there are strong legal defenses that could allow you to walk free. Here are some examples of possible defenses:
- Statute of limitations — Child pornography charges must be brought within the statute of limitations or the prosecutors cannot proceed with the criminal case. Typically, child pornography offenses are charged as third-degree felonies and must be brought within three years of the date that the crime was committed. A defense attorney can help prove that the offense occurred beyond the statute of limitations and is therefore ineligible for prosecution.
- Illegally seized evidence — The U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution prevent the unreasonable search and seizure of private property. If evidence of child pornography was gathered through an illegal search, this may result in the charges being dropped. Examples of illegal search and seizure include:
- When law enforcement searches a person or property without a valid search warrant or legal cause
- When law enforcement searches beyond the scope of a valid search warrant
- When someone consents to a search based on coercion or intimidation by law enforcement
- Entrapment — If law enforcement officials induce a defendant to commit a crime that the defendant is not predisposed to commit, the defendant can present the affirmative defense of entrapment. This is a common defense when a defendant is arrested after an Internet sting, such as those portrayed on the television show To Catch a Predator. An entrapment defense can result in a defendant being found not guilty.