| Read Time: 2 minutes | Child Abuse

Possesion of Child Porngraphy a Serious Federal and State Crime

Recently, federal law enforcement arrested a 26 year old man for possession of child pornography. He was arrested after officials discovered a video which contained images of children being exploited on his laptop. Police allege in reports that the video showed the exploitation of two young girls between the ages of 6 and 10. Law enforcement learned about the accused as part of an undercover federal investigation of computers advertising child pornography. Officials allege that a computer using the accused IP address was identified as advertising 86 child pornography files between May 2015 and January 2016. What is Child Pornography? Under Florida’s obscenity laws, child pornography is any image that shows a child under the age of 18 engaging in sexual acts. The image could be a photo, magazine, video, or computer file. The sexual conduct includes a wide variety of behavior and may include sexual intercourse, masturbation, sexual abuse, bestiality, physical contact with sex organs, and other conduct or acts. Federal law makes it illegal to possess, distribute, transmit, and manufacture child pornography. It is a felony crime punishable with significant jail time and the label of being listed as a convicted sexual offender. Consequences of Child Pornography Conviction Oftentimes, child pornography cases are dealt with as federal child pornography possession charges and prosecuted in federal courts. A child pornography possession conviction is punishable with long prison sentences and steep fines. The punishment for child pornography often depends on whether the accused is a first time or repeat offender: First Time Offenders: a first time child pornography conviction is punishable with up to 10 years in federal prison. The statutory maximum for this offense is 10 years. There is no mandatory minimum sentence. A court will decide a potential sentence by considering key facts from the case such as whether or not the accused accepts responsibility for the crime. Repeat Offenders: if the accused has a prior child pornography conviction or a conviction for any other sex crime, then the court has more tools to punish the accused. The punishments can range from 10 to 20 years in federal prison. At a minimum, the accused is facing 10 years in federal prison. Registration as a sex offender: depending on exact nature of the charge, a court may also require anyone convicted with possession of child pornography to register as a sex offender. Which will place communities on notice about the convict. This means that convict will face increased scrutiny and perhaps isolation from the surround community. Let an Attorney Help Child pornography charges are serious and have state and federal consequences. The impact of a conviction can last a lifetime. If you are dealing with these serious accusations, then you should speak with the criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth. We understand the nuances of both criminal and state law and can develop a strategy to defend you in court. Contact us today 407-377-0150 to schedule an appointment.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Child Abuse

Child Abuse and Neglect in Florida Homes

Despite what popular opinion may dictate, in the vast majority of states, it is lawful to use physical punishment to discipline a child. One of the most fundamental rights a person has is to raise their children as they seem fit. This right, however, is not without limitations. Florida law may allow spanking and, in fact, specifically states that “[c]orporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child.” Although many of the terms utilized in that statement are defined in the statute itself, there is still much debate about what constitutes “harm,” and “disciplinary purposes.” With ambiguity in these terms, understanding the legal difference between abuse and discipline can be difficult to prove. What is “Harm?” Section 30(a) of Chapter 39.01 of the 2014 Florida Statutes (“Proceedings Relating to Children”) non-inclusively defines what constitutes harm. It can be a physical, mental, or emotional injury—the latter two of which can be difficult to prove in a court of law. A child can be “fine” physically, but face severe emotional consequences during the punishment or later in life. According to the statute, corporal discipline “may be considered excessive or abusive” when it results in a list of enumerated (or “similar”) injuries to the child. There is also the consideration of what constitutes “discipline” and a question of whether this differs from “punishment.” Regardless, the determination of whether a child has been abused depends significantly on the harm that is inflicted, and not as much on the underlying alleged reasons for the harm. Types of Abuse While harm can be defined as physical, mental, or emotional trauma, the same goes with the types of abuse a person may suffer. There is physical abuse in the sense of hitting and overt actions, but there is also abuse in the sense of omission or failure to act. Failing to care for a child properly can be deemed abuse and neglect. Failing to maintain a sanitary home, not providing meals to children, and denying children schooling or love and affection may all be forms of abuse recognized under Florida law. Any caregiver of a child, not just the biological parents, may be charged with child abuse or neglect; these offenses may include failure to provide “care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services . . . .” Orlando Child Abuse Attorneys Allegations of child abuse or neglect are taken extremely seriously under Florida law. If ultimately convicted of one of these crimes, you may face repercussions including, but not limited to, loss of custody of your children, monetary fines, misdemeanor or felony charges. Allegations are merely that—allegations. Allegations and being charged with a crime do not mean you have been convicted of the crime; that is, you do not have it on your criminal record yet. If you or anyone you know has been suspected of child abuse or neglect, it is critical that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Our knowledgeable child abuse and neglect defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth have worked on both sides of the criminal justice system and know how to masterfully approach your case to ensure the best outcome possible. Contact us at our Orlando or New Smyrna Beach offices to take the steps necessary to try to preserve your criminal records and minimize the damage to your future.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Child Abuse

Florida Makes Changes to Child Abuse Laws

Child abuse is an extremely sensitive, personal area of the law, in that it involves both children and family. Often, a third party will allege child abuse without proper evidence to support the allegation. This can lead to false accusations and misinterpretations that can take a long time for the legal system to correct. Additionally, there may be false motives behind alleging child abuse, such as an attempt to gain sole custody of a child. Regardless, Florida law recognizes the importance of children’s rights in these situations, whether the allegations are based on fact or mere speculation. Children’s Rights in Florida Florida law prohibits recording conversations unless all involved parties are put on notice they are being recorded. This can make it difficult for victims to “prove” abuse, whether it be child abuse or expanded further to domestic violence or sexually motivated crimes. The difficulty of using this type of evidence stems from what type of evidence is allowed in court. There are rigorous rules of evidence that must be followed, and tape recordings of this nature can be difficult to prove who was saying the words, as well as whether the words were taken out of context or not. The new law (HB 7001) will expand rights for those under 18 who believe they will be able to gather evidence of assault or abuse as a result of a tape recording. This extends to a person under 18 who “has reasonable grounds to believe that the recording will capture a statement by another party to the communication that the other party intends to commit, is committing, or has committed an unlawful sexual act or unlawful act of physical force or violence against the person.” Essentially, the law allows such recordings to be used in proving past, current, or future violent or sexual acts. It is unclear how the law will affect the admissibility of this type of evidence in court, though that is presumably one of the intents of the legislation. The law specifies only that recording is lawful, not that it will always be admissible in court. Attorneys will still need to comply with all rules of evidence in seeking to have this communication entered into evidence at trial. This may require testimony from involved persons regarding voice recognition or testimony about how the recording was executed. Prosecutors will still have the same hoops to jump through regarding evidence as they did before, meaning they have to follow the rules and prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the accused to be convicted. Central Florida Child Abuse Attorneys If you or anyone you know has been charged with the serious crime of child abuse in Orlando or central Florida, you need lawyers on your side to help you navigate the criminal justice system. As former prosecutors, our experienced child abuse defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law have seen these cases from both sides and know how the prosecution is likely to approach the case. This experience, combined with our extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system and child abuse cases will ensure that you have the best chance at putting this misunderstanding behind you and moving on with your life. We are always available for you to contact us at (407) 377-0150 and tell us about your case.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 2 minutes | Child Abuse

Domestic Violence with Children in The Home

Domestic violence charges are serious offenses regardless of the context. A charge that involves the presence of children may threaten your future relationship with those children if you are ultimately convicted. Even if the actual physical violence was directed solely upon the adult members of the household, child abuse and neglect charges often may accompany these allegations and can work against you if you are trying to maintain a relationship with your children after charges are filed. Domestic Violence in Florida Domestic violence is defined under Florida law as “assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.” “Household member” is loosely defined and does not include only blood relatives, but rather, extends to persons that reside together as a family. This can include individuals that have a child together, even if the individuals are not married. These crimes, named under “assault” or “battery”, generally mean physical contact or threat of imminent physical contact that induces reasonable fear in the victim. Even a threat of violence can make another member of the household feel threatened to the point he or she gets the authorities involved, which may jeopardize your future. Many people erroneously think that you can only commit a domestic violence offense against a spouse, but that is not the case. Police made over 67,000 arrests in 2010 from domestic violence crimes committed in the State of Florida alone, although it is estimated that many more offenses that are committed go unreported. Victims of domestic violence may not report out of fear for themselves or the safety of their children, or a reliance upon the offender for support and companionship. Child Abuse and Neglect Charges Even if a child was not harmed during a physical altercation, such incidents may lead to investigations that lead to additional allegations of child abuse. If it is determined that a child’s safety or health has been endangered due to the actions of abuse going on in the household, child abuse and neglect charges may be filed against you and/or other members of the household. This is particularly true since child abuse, by definition, includes not just physical abuse, but mental injury upon a child. These are felony charges that can bring much steeper penalties than domestic violence committed against another adult and can be charged when physical abuse against other members of the household is discovered. Facing Domestic Violence Charges If you or anyone you know has been accused of domestic violence or child abuse in Florida, you need experienced criminal defense attorneys that you can trust to advocate for you to save your future and your relationship with your children. These types of charges are not often given lenient sentences, even for first time offenders. Understanding your legal rights and responsibilities during the course of your criminal case will ensure that your case is dispensed with as quickly and quietly as possible. Contact an experienced domestic violence defense attorney at Moses & Rooth in Orlando to learn more about your rights as a criminal defendant today. CC image courtesy of Bridget Coila at Flickr

Continue Reading