Transmitting Child Pornography: How to Defend the Charges

As most Florida residents already know, possessing, distributing, and transmitting child pornography are all illegal in this state. 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 underage 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 included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of Homeland Security, was able to identify the man by tracing his internet IP. The charges are serious-transmitting child pornography is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

What does “transmit” mean?

The recent decision of Biller v. State by the District Court of Appeals in Florida recently decided a case that focused on what the word “transmit” means or does not mean. The defendant in that case had been charged and pleaded guilty to transmitting child pornography by use of an electronic device. But he argued at the time that the charges should have been dismissed because there was no evidence that he had “transmitted” anything. The defendant had 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 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.

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 experience Florida criminal attorney.

Please contact one of our Orlando Sex crime lawyers today for a free case review 407-228-3838