I’ve represented people charged with that crime, and the punishment can be extremely severe because they can make one charge for each image that they find. If you’re talking about someone with even 10 separate pictures, you’ve got 10 charges and that adds on significant points to a guideline sentence. I represented a fellow one time who was charged with possession of pornographic pictures of minors on his computer. He had probably over a hundred. They only charged him with 20, but by charging him with 20 counts, he scored at the bottom of the guidelines with 20 years.
Although it was still a severe sentence, I was able to convince the judge to cut that in half and he was sentenced to 10 years, but his exposure was huge. We’re not talking about any activity with an individual. We’re just talking about possessing the pictures. It’s really severe. It’s also unlawful for someone to transmit or to email photographs that they may have, to another person. There’s a similar severity of sentence for committing that crime. There is a common misbelief that many people have, that when they’re on the computer they’re anonymous. It really needs to be hit home that they’re not.
Each computer has what’s called an IP address. The IP address is associated with a provider of the service and the provider of the service has your name and billing address. You can be found if you email or connect with a browser or server either to download pictures or to transmit pictures. The belief that you’re doing this anonymously is a false belief. The police actively go after people that are doing that. They know the sites where child pornography is. Routinely, the sites are located out of the country, because if they were in the US, they’d be shut down.
These sites will be in foreign countries where we don’t have a compact to be able to arrest or extradite the person responsible. Their sites are fair game for anybody in the United States to go on to and download, but once you download, you’re going to be in trouble.
Is It Possible For Someone To Have Inadvertently Come into Possession Of Child Pornography?
Certainly, all crimes rely on intent. So if you inadvertently clicked on a link and something gets downloaded and you immediately delete it, the fact that you didn’t intentionally download it would be a defense. If you bought a used computer that still had images on it that you weren’t aware of that were unlawful, that would be a defense; there would be proof of when the pictures were downloaded, and your bill of sale showing that you got the computer on a certain date. If the pictures were downloaded prior to that date, it would indicate that you had nothing to do with that. It would be a defense that you had no knowledge.
What are The Potential Penalties Someone May Face In These Circumstances?
The penalties depend on the person’s present charges and how many charges there, are along with their prior criminal history. All that goes into a formula in the guidelines score sheet that ultimately comes up with the minimum advisory sentence that the judge can either accept or reject. The judges are not supposed to go below the minimum advisory sentence, although they can if they have explicit reasons for doing so.
In Florida, judges are allowed to sentence anyone for any offense regardless of their background up to the statutory maximum. For a third degree felony, the maximum is five years. For second degree felony, the maximum is 15 years. For a first degree felony, it’s 30 years. If it’s a life felony and life is imposed, that’s life until you die because there is no parole. The range is from five to life depending on the charge. The sentence imposed is really at the discretion of the court , although they generally stay close to the guideline number – but not always.
For more information on Possession of Child Pornography Charges, a free initial consultation is your best next step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (561) 866-5717 today.