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Florida Court Discusses Restitution in Child Pornography Cases

The Law Office of Genine Ann Mejia, P.A.

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.

Under federal law, a defendant convicted of a child pornography crime is required to pay restitution. Pursuant to the law, the defendant must pay the full amount of a victim’s damages, which includes the cost of psychological and medical care and any other injuries suffered by the plaintiff due to the subject offense. While a defendant is only required to pay for the harm he or she proximately causes, viewing pornography has been deemed to cause proximate harm to victims because it amplifies the harm of the original abusive acts.

After proximate cause is established, the amount of restitution must align with the defendant’s role in the causal process that led to the victim’s losses, which is determined by assessing numerous factors. A court is not required, though, to calculate the victim’s losses caused by the original creator of the pornography before determining the losses caused by the possessor. Here, the appellate court found that the trial court had set forth sufficient factual evidence in support of its restitution award. As such, the award was affirmed.

Speak to a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida

A conviction for a child pornography crime can have a lasting impact on a person’s reputation and finances. If you are charged with a crime, attorney Genine Ann Mejia can advise you of your rights and help you to seek a favorable outcome. She is a skilled criminal defense attorney adept at defending people charged with crimes that carry significant consequences, and if you hire her, she will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can contact her at (386) 463-0849 or via the form online to set up a conference.

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