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Articles Posted in Child Pornography

In many instances in which a person is convicted of a crime, the court will not only sentence the person to a prison term but will also order the person to pay restitution. What constitutes reasonable restitution is often disputed between the parties. This was demonstrated in a recent child pornography case in Florida in which the defendant appealed a restitution award of $10,000 to the victim. If you are accused of child pornography or any other crime, it is advisable to talk to an assertive Florida criminal defense attorney to assess your possible defenses.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of possession of child pornography. Following his conviction, he was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to the victim of his crime. He appealed, arguing that the amount of restitution did not accurately reflect his role in the victim’s harm, and asked the court to grant him a new hearing on the restitution award. On appeal, the appellate court declined to grant the defendant’s request, affirming the lower court’s award.

Restitution in Child Pornography Cases

An appellate court will review the amount of restitution awarded in a child pornography case for an abuse of discretion. The appellate court explained that a district court would abuse its discretion by applying an improper legal standard, making clearly erroneous findings of fact, or following incorrect procedures. An appellate court will give deference to a lower court’s determination that the relevant factors, when taken as a whole, justify a restitution award, however, and will not vacate an award unless it is clear that the trial court committed an error in judgment.

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When people are charged with possessing or distributing child pornography, it is because an investigation revealed pornography in their possession. In most instances, the State cannot introduce evidence of wrongful acts to support the assertion that a person committed a crime, but in some circumstances, such evidence is admissible. The grounds for admitting evidence of a wrongful act was the topic of a recent Florida opinion in a case in which a defendant charged with possession of child pornography objected to the introduction of evidence he possessed child erotica. If you are accused of possession of child pornography, it is prudent to speak to a knowledgeable Florida criminal defense attorney regarding your rights.

The Evidence and Charges

It is reported that in 2018 the police conducted an undercover investigation of a file-sharing network that was used to distribute child pornography and found a computer that linked to the network. An IP address linked the computer to the defendant’s home. The police obtained a search warrant and found the computer, after which they read the defendant his Miranda rights and conducted an interview.

Allegedly, the defendant admitted to using the computer and the file-sharing network to obtain child pornography from a site in Russia. The police found images of child erotica and child pornography on the computer, after which the defendant was charged with three child pornography crimes. During the trial, the prosecution admitted the child erotica images into evidence over the defendant’s objection. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed.

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In many criminal cases, the State will lack direct evidence that a defendant committed a crime and will rely on circumstantial evidence to demonstrate the defendant’s guilt. While circumstantial evidence is generally permissible, hearsay evidence is typically not. As such, if a conviction is based on hearsay evidence, it may constitute grounds for reversal, as demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling in a case in which the defendant was convicted of numerous counts of possession of child pornography. If you are accused of possessing child pornography or any other crime, it is advisable to speak to a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney to assess your rights.

The Defendant’s Trial

It is reported that the defendant was arrested and charged with three hundred counts of possessing child pornography. His arrest arose out of evidence obtained from his home computer via a search warrant. At his trial, the digital forensic technician that examined his device explained that hash values are used to identify pornographic images of children that are contained in a national database. Using this technology, three hundred pornographic images of children were identified on the defendant’s computer.

Allegedly, the digital forensic technician testified that he was able to identify most of the images as child pornography without reference to the hash values assigned to them but noted that in one image, he could not tell if the individual depicted was a child. Nonetheless, the State relied on his conclusion that a hash value assigned to the image designated it as child pornography in charging the defendant. The defendant was convicted on all three hundred counts, after which he appealed, arguing that his conviction was based on a hearsay statement that the image in question constituted pornography. Continue reading ›

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted seemingly every aspect of society, including those who are currently incarcerated. In some cases, the pandemic serves as grounds for granting incarcerated individuals compassionate release. The courts do not readily grant compassionate release requests, however, and there are certain measures a party must take before a request is even considered. In a recent Florida opinion in a case in which the defendant was serving a sentence for a child pornography conviction, the court explained the grounds for granting compassionate release. If you need assistance with a criminal matter, it is in your best interest to speak to a knowledgeable Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The Procedural History

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. He was sentenced to 180 months in prison in 2010. In May of 2020, he sought compassionate release, but his request was denied due to his failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. He then filed a second request, based on the fact that he suffered a COVID-19 infection and had asthma and probable lung damage. The court denied his motion, finding that once again, he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.

Requests for Compassionate Release

The court explained that a court’s authority to modify a prison sentence is significantly limited by statute. Specifically, 18 U.S.C. 3582(c) enumerates the reasons a district court can modify or reduce a prison term once it has been imposed. The court explained that the only portion of the statute that applied in the subject case was the provision that allows a court to reduce a sentence when there is a compelling and extraordinary reason to do so. Continue reading ›

Many criminal statutes include an element of intent. In other words, the prosecution must prove that the defendant possessed the mental state needed to commit the crime to obtain a conviction. In child pornography cases that involve the use of technology and sharing of files, however, the prosecution may not be able to establish intent. In a recent Florida ruling, a court described what evidence is sufficient to demonstrate that a defendant charged with distributing child pornography knew or should have known he was committing a crime. If you are charged with a child pornography offense, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Florida criminal defense lawyer to discuss your potential defenses.

The Defendant’s Charges

It is alleged that a detective involved in investigating child pornography used a computer to communicate with the defendant’s computer. The defendant’s computer had a peer-to-peer file-sharing program that allowed parties to share torrents. When the defendant’s computer was running, it indicated that it had child pornography, and the detective was able to download two videos that contained child pornography from the defendant’s computer on two occasions.

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with the transmission of child pornography by an electronic device. He moved for an acquittal, arguing that the prosecution could not prove that he knowingly transmitted pornography. Following the trial, he was sentenced to eleven months in jail, followed by three years of probation. He appealed his conviction, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion for acquittal. Continue reading ›

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