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It’s not uncommon for Internet users to have fantasy chats with other adults who pretend to be children or teenagers under 18 years old. If the minor appears to be persistent in meeting you, there’s a good chance that you may be having a fantasy chat with a police officer who is setting you up for an undercover sting operation.

Whether you use the Internet to have fantasy relationships with children or you want to have a real connection with a minor, you are placing yourself at risk for arrest and incarceration. If you are facing an Internet sex crime in Florida, you will need legal assistance from an accomplished lawyer. The law firm of Katz & Phillips, P.A., can help you because of our experience in handling computer crimes and preparing a defense for individuals facing charges involving minors.

Florida’s computer pornography statute makes using a computer to solicit, lure or entice a minor or any attempt to do so, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, up to five years of sex offender probation and a maximum of $5,000 in fines.

Examining the Circumstances That Resulted in an Arrest

Florida has revised its statutes in recent years, making them tougher on sex crimes against minors. From these laws, police authorities set up undercover online operations by posing in chat rooms and instant messaging programs as minors or parents of minors to catch adults who intend to have sex with an underage child or who want to pay parents or guardians to allow their minor children to have sex with the adult.

Despite the revised laws, the burden remains on the prosecution to prove that a defendant intended to use a computer to solicit someone believed to be under 18 years old to participate in unlawful sexual conduct. To find holes in a prosecutor’s case, criminal defense attorneys may examine how the defendant and the minor, or in some cases, adults posing as minors, met and what occurred as a result. In making this determination, the defense attorney may ask:

  • Which party initiated the conversation which led to engaging in unlawful sexual conduct?
  • Did the defendant first speak with an adult who suggested the defendant have sex with a child?
  • Did the defendant seem willing or reluctant to engage in unlawful sexual conduct?
  • Was the defendant pressured to answer questions a certain way?
  • Did the minor lead the defendant to believe he or she was older than he or she actually is?

There may also be cases in which the owner of a computer is arrested for solicitation when the act was actually committed by the person with whom he or she shares a computer. In this situation, a prosecutor does not have solid evidence that the computer owner attempted to solicit the child.

Get Help in Preparing Your Defense

If you are a suspect in a computer pornography crime or have been charged with violating the Florida statute, it’s possible that you will experience personal shame and public embarrassment since police authorities at times, will release names and occupations to the media of individuals charged with computer pornography crimes.

If you find yourself in this situation, turn to the law firm of Katz & Phillips, P.A. Our founding partner, James D. Phillips, represents individuals accused of federal offenses and sex crimes, including Internet crimes. Mr. Phillips also knows how a prosecutor builds a case, having been a Florida Assistant State Attorney for the 1st and 18th Judicial Circuits. Having a knowledgeable attorney as Mr. Phillips will benefit you in preparing a defense strategy for your case.
Time is of the essence if you are a suspect in a computer pornography case. Contact Katz & Phillips, P.A. today for a free evaluation of your case.