Transmitting Child Porn: Do You Need To Hit The Send Button?

Possessing, distributing, and transmitting child pornography are all illegal in Florida. Recently, as reported by NorthEscambia.com, a Pensacola man was arrested and charged with 20 counts of transmitting child pornography. Police discovered that the 23-year-old man had downloaded sexually explicit videos of minors onto his computer and then proceeded to forward those videos to others.

The North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Office of Homeland Security, was able to identify the man by tracing his IP address. Child pornography crimes in Florida and can result in severe criminal penalties if the accused is convicted on all charges. The Orlando sex crime lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm can use every letter of the law to defend against your charges to lessen potential penalties.

Elements of a Child Pornography Charge

For an individual to be convicted of transmitting child porn, he or she must have been in violation of § 847.0137 and the court must prove that the individual transmitted child pornography while:

  • In Florida; or
  • Outside of Florida to a person in Florida; and
  • The individual knew or reasonably should have known that he or she had transmitted child pornography

When involved in a Florida sex crimes case, it is important to understand the meaning of certain terminology. Words that may mean something in everyday conversation may mean something completely different in legal terms. The following are a few associated with child pornography cases:

 

  • Child Pornography: Any image depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct
  • Authority Figure: Any individual over the age of 18 volunteering at, employed by, or under contract with a school
  • Minor: Any individual under the age of 18

 

Florida Appellate Courts Define ‘Transmit’

The recent decision of Biller v. State by the District Court of Appeals in Florida defined the term “transmit.” The defendant had been charged and pleaded guilty to fifteen counts of possessing child pornography and one count of transmitting child pornography by use of an electronic device. He later appealed the case and argued that the charges should have been dismissed because there was no evidence that he had “transmitted” anything.

The defendant used a peer-to-peer network where he downloaded the pornographic images to his computer and permitted other network users to access his files. Police investigators, subscribing to the same network, went to the defendant’s computer files, accessed the images, and then charged him with the crime of transmitting child pornography. The statute defined “transmit” as an “act of sending and causing to be delivered any image, information, or data from one or more persons or places to one or more other persons or places over or through any medium, including the Internet, by use of any electronic equipment or device.”

The Final Decision

The question the court faced was whether the defendant had “sent” anything when he merely allowed others to access his files. The court noted that the defendant did not affirmatively use a function of his computer, and indeed did not know who might access the file. He simply kept them in a computer file knowing that other network members might access them.

The court concluded that the word “send” in this context could have several definitions, but when a criminal statute is susceptible of more than one construction, the court is obliged to construe that statute in the light most favorable to the defendant-not the state. The court then reversed the conviction on the charge for transmitting child pornography.

Florida Penalties for Transmitting Child Pornography

Transmitting child pornography is a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. The courts can count each image transmitted as a separate charge and run sentences concurrently. There are instances, however, when penalties for the same crime can be increased.

In an instance where an authority figure at a school is the defendant, a student at the school is the victim, and the defendant was in violation of § 847.0137, the crime can be increased to a second-degree felony. In that case, the defendant may face up to fifteen years in prison and $10,000 in fines for the charge.

Experienced Orlando Sex Crime Lawyers

Charges involving the possession, distribution, or transmission of child pornography have serious consequences, and anyone who is facing such charges should seek the representation of an experienced Florida criminal attorney.

Please contact one of our Orlando sex crime lawyers today for a free case review 407-228-3838. Our team of Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyers is here to provide you with the legal representation you deserve.