Florida Minor Sex Offense Lawyer
Laws regarding sex offenses involving minors are strict, and penalties are harsh. Judges and juries may be inclined to view the accused very unfavorably, and to levy heavy sentences after a conviction. Prosecutors know this and use this leverage when pressing charges and negotiating plea agreements. At the Law Offices of Gilbert A. Schaffnit, you will find a compassionate and dedicated Florida minor sex offense lawyer ready to provide you with valuable advice and a strong defense to help ensure a fair trial and the best outcome. Below is a look at some of the ways a person can be charged with sex offenses involving a minor in Florida, and how the Law Offices of Gilbert A. Schaffnit can help.
Traveling to Meet a Minor
According to Florida Statutes section 847.0135, it is a second degree felony to travel or attempt to travel any distance within the state or to or from the state for the purpose of engaging in any illegal sexual activity with a child or a person believe to be a child after using a computer online service, Internet service or similar technology described in the law. It is likewise illegal to cause another person to travel or attempt to travel for the same purpose. The punishment on conviction for Traveling to Meet a Minor can be up to 15 years in Florida state prison.
Traveling to meet a minor is a federal offense as well. Under 18 USC sections 2422 and 2423, it is illegal to:
- Attempt to arrange a meeting in another state with a person you believe to be a minor
- Entice a minor to travel for prostitution or unlawful sexual activity
- Knowingly transport a child between states with the intent to engage in unlawful sexual activity
- Travel between states to engage in unlawful sexual activity with minor
Penalties include a mandatory sentence of ten years to life, or up to 30 years in federal prison depending upon the circumstances.
Given these harsh sentences and the effect a conviction or even just an arrest can have on your personal and professional life and reputation in the community, a charge of traveling to meet a minor should be taken very seriously. You may have any number of defenses available to you, which an attorney can present on your behalf when applicable. Some common defenses to this charge include:
- Entrapment – Law enforcement routinely conduct undercover sting operations in person and over the Internet; their activities may go too far and lure someone into taking an action they otherwise would not
- Falsely accused – A minor or parent may make a false accusation out of revenge, hurt feelings or a misunderstanding
- Wrong identity – It is possible that another person gained access to your computer or spoofed your IP address using sophisticated technology to hide their identity and make it look like you were the one engaging in online activity when you actually weren’t
- Mistake – If you reasonably believed that the person you were going to meet was not a minor, you may have a valid defense to this charge
Section 847.0135 of Florida Statutes outlaws the publishing of information about a minor for the purpose of encouraging or soliciting sexual conduct of or with a minor, or the visual depiction of such conduct. This offense is a third degree felony, which typically carries penalties of up to $5,000 in fines and up to five years in prison. A charge of possession or distribution of child pornography can ruin lives and destroy families. Bring your case to an experienced criminal defense attorney who will treat the matter respectfully and confidentially and provide a strong, effective defense.
Other Computer Pornography Involving Minors
This same section of the law also makes it illegal to commit any sexual act over the Internet while believing the viewer to be less than 16. This would include masturbating or exposing one’s genitals in a lewd and lascivious manner. If the person accused of committing the act is 18 or older, this crime is charged as a second degree felony. When the accused is under 18, the crime is charged as a felony in the third degree. Additionally, the owner of a computer service who knowingly allows such a transmission can be found guilty of a first degree misdemeanor and subjected to a $2,000 fine.
A federal law, 18 USC 1591, outlaws sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud or coercion. Penalties upon conviction are ten years to life when the victim is under 18, and 15 years to life if the victim is under 14. Convicted offenders are also required to register as a sex offender under both Florida and federal systems and registries.
Get Help from a Dedicated Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a sex offense involving a minor or other sex crime in the state of Florida, call the Law Offices of Gilbert A. Schaffnit in Gainesville at 352-378-6593 for a no-cost, confidential consultation regarding your case with an experienced Florida minor sex offense lawyer.