Florida Sex Crimes Lawyer Jim Weick with the Law Firm William R. Moore Criminal Defense warns that Florida has laws against the use of computers or the Internet to lure or solicit victims for sexual exploitation. These laws are aimed at ensuring that children are not lured by child sexual offenders.
Specifically, Florida law prohibits the use of the Internet or computers to lure children from within the state or outside by residents in the state or outside. A person is prohibited from knowingly using a computer, the Internet, or any electronic storage or transmission device to lure or solicit or deceive a child or a person they believe to be a child to perform or become involved in a sexual act. Criminal Lawyers have long described these cases as being especially tricky to defend absent the discovery of entrapment evidence or constitutional violations.
Weick explained that Florida Criminal Law also prohibits the use of the Internet or computer or any electronic transmission or storage device to communicate with a parent or guardian or custodian of a child in a bid to lure or convince them to permit their child to be sexually used in any manner.
To prove this crime, the prosecution can make use of expert witnesses who can help determine the source of the electronic messages and the devices used. Additionally, the prosecution has the right to present evidence obtained from a computer sting operation where a law enforcement official pretended to be a child or the parent or custodian of a child. The prosecution needs to only prove that the accused thought that they were communicating with a child; the actual age of the person being communicated with is immaterial to the case of the prosecution under Florida law against Internet solicitation according to William Moore Criminal Defense Lawyers in Broward.
When a person is accused of Internet solicitation of a child under Florida law, the defendant can try and prove that they did not participate in the solicitation. For instance, if the computer used in the solicitation was not entirely under their control, the defendant can claim that they were unaware that it was being used for such purposes. However, the actual age of the person they communicated with is not a valid defense against an accusation of internet solicitation.
Under Florida law, a person who misrepresents their age when soliciting a child over the Internet commits a greater crime.
According to Florida law a person convicted of Internet soliciting can be penalized for a felony of the third degree while a person who also misrepresents their age during the solicitation can be penalized for a felony of the second degree. For a third degree felony, the convicted person faces up to five years in prison or a fine of $5,000. If convicted of a second degree felony the offender faces a 15-year-jail term or a fine of $10,000.
Florida considers Internet solicitation a serious crime and penalizes it accordingly. In addition, under Florida law each instance of Internet solicitation is considered a separate crime and every crime leads to a separate penalty. This means that a person convicted for multiple counts of Internet solicitation can face consecutive sentences in prison for each of the crimes.
The fact that every solicitation over the Internet is considered a separate crime means that those accused of internet solicitation need to fight every accusation separately. The prosecution too needs to prove that the defendant was responsible for every act of Internet solicitation they have been accused of by showing that no one else could have been responsible. This is vital because if the defendant is accused of solicitations committed by someone else, they are likely to face a longer prison term as each attempt at solicitation will be considered a separate crime.
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