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The Florida laws regarding obscenity are extremely strict, and encompass most of the criminal statutes regarding pornography. The most common and widely publicized crimes under the obscenity statute are in regards to child pornography. Child pornography prosecutions frequently appear in the news, as law enforcement never shies away from issuing press releases on child porn arrests and convictions. This is especially true for federal cases, as distribution of child pornography has become an area of focus for assistant United States Attorneys. Child pornography cases are generally separated into two categories, with simple possession of materials being the lesser of the two. This is not to say possession of child pornography is not a serious offense, as quite the opposite is true. Possession alone is classified as a third-degree felony, but the law allows prosecutors to charge a defendant with a separate count for each distinct image or depiction. Child pornography possession cases routinely have more than 10 counts, and some can have dozens. Distribution of child pornography is treated more seriously than simple possession, and in addition to facing second-degree felony charges a defendant may be forced to register as a sex offender upon conviction. This registry requirement will have serious impacts on a defendant long after the case is over, and will continue even if the defendant moves to another state. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida criminal defense attorney who specializes in child pornography possession and distribution cases, and he is standing by to offer a free consultation for anyone facing charges in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County. He is also an experienced Treasure Coast child pornography lawyer for defendants facing charges in Martin County and St. Lucie County.
Florida has also enacted a strict law to punish computer pornography entitled the Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act. This law punishes all types of conduct that may not fall under standard possession or distribution of child pornography materials, such as soliciting a minor or traveling to meet a minor. It also punishes conduct related to an adult posting their own lewd videos or pictures with the intent to lure or entice a minor, or with the intent to have a minor view the picture or video. Any person who commits a lewd or lascivious act that is intended to be viewed by a person under the age of 16 commits a second-degree felony. If the defendant is under 18, the offense is still a crime, but will be handled in juvenile court and charged as a third-degree felony. It is not a defense that an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a minor was the recipient.
Other common charges listed under the obscenity section of include the retail display of pornography materials to minors, which generally applies to shop keepers. A violation of this offense is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a potential 1-year jail sentence. The same penalty applies to anyone charged with running an obscene telephone service, though that charge is becoming obsolete. Florida has also recently enacted sexting laws that apply to minors. Minors may not send and receive sexually explicit images or videos via text message. A first offense is considered a civil violation, but the minor will still have to appear in court and may be required to complete 8 hours of community service. If a minor has already been charged with a sexting offense, and the case was not dismissed, he or she faces first-degree misdemeanor charges for an additional offense. A third offense carries the possibility of felony criminal charges that could bring enhanced penalties in the juvenile court. Benjamin Herbst is an experienced South Florida juvenile criminal defense lawyer who represents minors charged with sexting and other charges. Contact Benjamin anytime at (954) 543-0305 for a free consultation, or to set up a meeting in his Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach offices. Benjamin can also travel to meet in any convenient location from Miami to Port St. Lucie.