Illegal Content Resulting in Criminal Charges in Florida

February 16, 2023 Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes, Theft/Property Crimes

In Florida, downloading illegal content to a person’s computer can result in criminal charges. Illegal content may include child pornography, copyrighted material, or other types of illegal media. Even if the user had no idea how the content ended up on their device, they can still face criminal charges.

In some cases, a computer virus can cause illegal content to end up on your device. Yet, regardless of how the content ended up there, finding incriminating evidence on your device is enough to end up with a criminal charge.

This article will explain the various charges a person can face in Florida for illegal content being downloaded to their devices.

Child Pornography Charges in Florida

When a person has content displaying minors or children in a sexually explicit manner, they can face child pornography charges. In Florida, child pornography possession is divided into several categories depending on the nature of the offense. It is considered a third-degree felony for any person to possess, transmit, or manufacture an image, video, or other depiction of a child in a sexually explicit manner. The penalties for a third-degree felony include up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

If the offender shares any illegal content considered to be child pornography, they can be charged with a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony in Florida has penalties of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.

If the offender promotes or produces any image, video, or depiction of a minor in a sexually explicit manner which is considered child pornography, they can be charged with a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony has penalties of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

In addition to paying fines and lengthy prison sentences, a person convicted of possession of child pornography—in any capacity—will be required to register under the Florida Sex Offender Registry. In some cases, the offender will have to remain registered for the remainder of their life. 

To learn more about the levels of Classification for a Sex Offender, read our informative page here. Similarly, check out our page on the differences between an offender and a predator here.

Copyright Material – Theft

In Florida, the criminal charge for copyright infringement is typically charged under the state’s theft statute. Florida Statutes Section 812.014 defines the crime of “theft” to include the unauthorized use, possession, or sale of another’s property, which includes copyrighted material. This offense is classified as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the property taken.

Furthermore, federal law also prohibits copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, which can lead to both civil and criminal penalties. If the offense involves the reproduction or distribution of copyrighted materials for commercial advantage or private financial gain, the penalties can include fines and imprisonment.

It is essential to note that the specifics of copyright law and criminal charges for infringement can be complicated, so it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing charges for copyright infringement in Florida.

How Digital Forensic Experts Can Assist in Cases Involving Illegally Downloaded Content

A digital forensic expert is a professional who specializes in the investigation and analysis of digital evidence related to criminal cases. This evidence can come from a wide range of digital sources, including computers, smartphones, digital cameras, and other electronic devices.

Digital forensic experts use specialized tools and techniques to collect and analyze digital evidence, which can include data from hard drives, email accounts, social media accounts, and other sources. They also have expertise in identifying and recovering deleted or hidden data and can often reconstruct digital files and communications that have been altered or deleted.

In criminal cases, digital forensic experts may be called upon to analyze evidence related to a wide range of crimes, including cybercrime, fraud, theft, and other offenses that involve the use of digital technology. They may also provide expert testimony in court to help explain the significance of digital evidence to judges and juries.

Digital forensic experts play a critical role in modern criminal investigations, as more and more criminal activity takes place in the digital realm. Their expertise is essential for law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to build strong cases based on digital evidence, and for defendants and their attorneys to mount effective defenses against digital evidence that may be used against them.

Possible Defenses for Illegally Downloaded Content

If you are facing criminal charges for downloading illegal content, you may have several defenses available to you. Some of these defenses include:

  1. Lack of knowledge – You may be able to argue that you were unaware that the content you downloaded was illegal or that it was downloaded against your knowledge. For example, if someone else downloaded the content onto your computer without your knowledge or if you believed that the content was legal, you may be able to use lack of knowledge as a defense.
  2. Consent – If you can show that the owner of the content gave you permission to download it, you may be able to use consent as a defense. For some digitally downloaded content, this can come in the form of a license agreement, or depending on the specific facts, a payment done towards the download could also be used to show expected consent.
  3. Entrapment – If you were coerced or entrapped by law enforcement into downloading illegal content, you may be able to use entrapment as a defense.
  4. Unlawful search and seizure – If the police obtained evidence against you through an unlawful search and seizure, you may be able to have the evidence suppressed and use this as a defense.
  5. Insanity – In rare cases, you may be able to use an insanity defense if you can prove that you were legally insane at the time of the offense.

It is important to note that these defenses may not apply in every case, and the specific facts of your case will determine which defenses are most appropriate. Additionally, it is always recommended that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can provide guidance and help you build a strong defense.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or someone you know has been accused of downloading illegal content on your laptop or other digital device, it is important to discuss all of your options with a Florida defense attorney in your area. The legal consequences for downloading incriminating content are harsh—even if they were downloaded without your knowledge or consent. This can include paying expensive fines, getting sentenced to lengthy prison sentences, or both.

Don Pumphrey and his team of attorneys have represented clients all across Florida. We understand the stress and anxiety that comes with being charged with a criminal offense. Our team will work tirelessly to build a strong defense for your case. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm for a free consultation today by calling (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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