TikTok Comment Leads to Criminal Conviction

July 7, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements

Social media is the modern way of connecting with people all over the internet. Regardless of age, gender, or location, with the click of a button, you can instantly communicate with others. The most popular social media platform at the moment is TikTok, a mobile app where people can post videos, comment on other’s posts, and messages.

Although TikTok has a lot of positive attributes, there is also a downside to it. For one, there is no restriction on who can message who. This means an adult can easily message a minor, and vice versa. In addition, there have been several trending themes on TikTok that have resulted in criminal offenses, including the “Orbeez Challenge” we previously wrote about.

In TikTok’s most recent criminal case, a man in Florida has been charged and convicted of child pornography. What started as innocent comments to a minor ended with him now serving almost 20 years behind bars.

We will cover the details of the case, along with the strict Florida laws on child pornography.

What was the Incident?

Christian Sandoval, 22, has been sentenced to 19 years and three months after pleading guilty to the production of child pornography. According to the admission of facts within his plea, Sandoval used the social media app TikTok to comment on a girl’s videos. He expressed that he thought she looked cute in posts starting from June 2021.

The two began messaging via TikTok and eventually exchanged numbers. Sandoval told the girl his name and claimed he was in the seventh grade. The girl responded that she was in the fourth grade, making her only eight-years-old.

Sandoval was using a phone number linked to his mother’s account, and the two were sending messages back and forth between June 18th through June 20th, 2021. The conversations took a turn when they began to exchange photos.

The 22-year-old sent the minor a picture of his genitals, and her for one in response. The girl declared that she did not feel comfortable sending him any pictures. Sandoval then sent her images of another girl around the same age, trying to convince her that it was normal for her to do so. After breaking down, the girl complied and sent him photos back.

Picture requests turned into video requests. Sandoval supposedly coached the girl on where to place her camera and how to pose. The girl’s mother found the images and videos on her daughter’s phone and contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. An investigation began to search for the man messaging the minor.

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida stated in a news release, “Through a few days of texts, Sandoval convinced the child to create sexually explicit videos of herself and send them to him. The child’s mother discovered the videos and inappropriate chats and reported the conduct to law enforcement.”

After obtaining a subpoena for T-Mobile, the police were able to get Sandoval’s phone number. They later used his driver’s license photo to connect his face to the images on the girl’s phone. The investigation involved the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Davie police, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the FBI.

Sandoval was arrested for the crime and charged with the production of child pornography. He pleaded guilty in April 2022 and has just received his sentence of 231 months in federal prison.

Production of Child Pornography in Florida

Child pornography is defined under Florida Statutes Sections 847.0135, 847.0138, and 827.071. The law in Florida explains that it is illegal to possess, distribute, transmit, and manufacture any form of child pornography. A minor is defined as any person under the age of 18, and child pornography is considered and picture of a video that depicts a minor in sexual conduct.

Penalties for child pornography can range varying on the classification of the criminal offense. An individual can get charged with a third-degree felony, with the consequence of up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison. For a second-degree child pornography charge, the consequence results in up to a $10,000 fine and up to fifteen years in prison.

It is important to remember that in some cases involving multiple materials of child pornography, each item could result in a separate charge. For example, if an individual is convicted of possessing five images of child pornography, they could get charged for each image and could face 75 years in prison.

In addition to expensive fines and potential imprisonment, there are other consequences that result from a child pornography conviction. A person convicted may have to register as a sex offender. This will be marked attached to your name any time you try to rent or buy a house, apply for a job, or do anything involving the government. There is also the social stigma of being known as someone with a child pornography conviction, which can ruin relationships between family and friends.

To read more about the various criminal charges filed under child pornography, find our informative page here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting accused of producing pornography is an extremely serious offense, especially when it is involving children. Along with paying steep fees and potentially spending years locked away in prison, there are plenty of severe punishments that result from a child pornography conviction. If you or a loved one have been falsely accused of a child pornography crime, it is imperative that you reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney in your area. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients all across the state of Florida, and promise to work tirelessly to ensure your freedom. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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