| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Justice

That’s One Expensive…

You’re out one night at the bar looking for “friend”. You buy a girl a drink but she’s not interested. Strike one. You try Tinder, same result. Strike two. Not wanting to strike out that night, you decide to look for a “sure thing”. Maybe you decide to drive in the seedier part of town, or check out the lovely ladies of backpage.com. Either way you know that you aren’t going to strike out. The problem is that after you attempt to negotiate for her services, you are placed under arrest because the nice girl that you were soliciting was a police officer. You think to yourself, “how bad could this be?” You have never been in trouble, it’s a misdemeanor charge, and aside from the embarrassment of explaining the situation to your friend who bonded you out, this is no big deal. That was probably the same thought process as Nelson Vachon. Mr. Vachon was arrested after making a deal with a prostitute for $20. Unfortunately, the prostitute was an undercover cop working a sting operation. He entered a plea and the government asked the Judge to impose the mandatory $5000.00 civil fine. The County Court found that the $5000.00 fine was unconstitutional and excessive. However, the Fourth District Court of Appeals did not agree. They reversed the trial court’s order and required the sentence to include the $5000.00 civil penalty. So the moral of the story is, first stay away from police acting as prostitutes in an undercover operation. Second, stay away from prostitutes. Third and perhaps most importantly should you ignore the first and second points, hire an attorney who is experienced with the criminal justice system. The attorneys at Moses and Rooth can assist in examining your case and representing you in court. Call 407-377-0150 to schedule an appointment.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

Jury Acquits Cop Accused of Rape

A jury has decided to acquit a Boynton Beach cop who allegedly threatened to kill a woman’s family if she did not perform a sexual act. Had the policeman been convicted of the sex crime, he would have faced up to life in prison. Throughout the proceedings the policeman insisted that he was innocent because the sex on the hood of his cruiser was consensual. When the sex was over the woman alleged that the cop was holding a handgun and threatened her and her family’s life if she said anything about the assault. The jury felt that the prosecution failed to prove the policeman’s guilt, thus he has been freed and can try to regain another police officer position. What Does it Mean to Give Consent? The defense in this case insisted the defendant was innocent because the woman provided consent. In Florida, for a person to give consent, he or she must not be forced into submission. If an alleged victim does not or cannot offer physical resistance against the alleged offender, this does not mean the victim provided consent. The jury in this case found that there was enough evidence to suggest the woman provided the policeman with consent. Evidence Used in a Sex Crime In this case, the police reviewed the radio communications between the policeman and precinct as well as a used condom that was found in a field. The defense used a photo of the woman posing in a risqué manner on a police cruiser to suggest that she had always had a fantasy of having sex on a cop car. As in most criminal cases, evidence plays a major role when a jury determines whether a person is guilty or innocent. The rules of evidence that address a sexual battery allows for the testimony of the victim to not have to be corroborated by the prosecution. In addition, Florida tries to prevent prior sexual activity to be allowed as evidence unless certain situations are met. One example is when evidence of other sexual intercourse was used to show that the defendant was not the source of the harm (i.e. Pregnancy or disease). In this case, the risqué photo was admitted because it did not relate to the victim’s past sexual history, but instead to what the defense argued was a fantasy. The defense attorneys argued that the young woman craved sex on the patrol car “perhaps to be cool”.  Clearly, the defense attorneys had effectively discredited the young women enough to raise doubt in the minds of the jurors. In cases where there is a question of a victim’s consent, any evidence that relates to a victim’s mental defect or incapacity is admissible to demonstrate that the victim did not knowingly consent to the act. Pending Rape Charges If you have recently been charged with a sex crime, you need an attorney who has experience working on sex crimes cases. Our lawyers at Moses & Rooth have worked on other Florida sex crimes cases. They will listen to your side of the story and vigorously work to obtain the necessary evidence needed to prepare a strong defense. Contact our firm at 407-377-0150 for your initial consultation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Florida Passes Law to Make Revenge Porn a Thing of the Past

Florida Governor Rick Scott began October by signing twenty-seven new laws for citizens of the state of Florida to abide by. Florida has joined over a dozen other states in the United States by making it illegal to post what many call revenge porn. A person can be charged with revenge porn if they post sexually explicit images without the other person’s consent. This law will cause websites that specialize in posting revenge porn to receive a big financial hit, since part of their revenue comes from people having to pay to remove the videos and photos. What Does Florida’s Revenge Porn Law Say? Revenge porn has become a common consequence of a couple breaking up in order to cause the former significant other pain and suffering. These private images and videos become available to people throughout the world and can cause a person a great deal of psychological harm, which is why the Florida legislature has taken steps to prevent this from continuing in Florida. For a person to be charged with revenge porn in Florida, the post must include a depiction of a person or information identifying a person who did not provide consent. Under the law, the sexual cyber-harassment must be an explicit image posted without the person’s consent to cause the person a great deal of emotional distress. As long as a police officer has probable cause, a person can be arrested for revenge porn without a warrant. A search warrant can also be obtained to further investigate a person’s dwelling if proper affidavits are made. Penalties for Posting Revenge Porn A person who posts revenge porn will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. A person convicted of this sexual cyberharassment could face up to a year in jail. However, these penalties can become extremely severe if a person is considered a repeat offender. Those who are considered repeat offenders will be convicted of a felony in the third degree and charged with a prison sentence of up to five years. These are the current penalties; however, based on commentary from senate sponsor, David Simmons, the legislature may try to impose harsher penalties in the future. In addition to criminal penalties, the person who was not given the opportunity to provide consent could sue for civil damages to remedy or prevent further violation. These damages may include actual damages or a monetary damage of $5000, whichever is greater. How Will This Law Affect You? If you have recently posted a video that you may be concerned would be classified as revenge porn or you are being accused of doing so, a lawyer will be able to explain how the new law may affect you. Our attorneys at Moses and Rooth are available to discuss the facts of your case and prepare a defense that is tailored to your needs. Contact our firm at 407-377-0150 so we can schedule an initial consultation and begin compiling the necessary evidence for your case.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

Child Pornography: “I Didn’t Know She Was a Minor”

We live in an age of technology where most of our communication now occurs electronically through social media and messaging applications. It can be hard to know who people really are beyond the online persona that they have created. When online, a person can be whoever they want to be, and people often misrepresent their true identities and ages. Smartphones and social media make it easier than ever to upload and access images of suggestive nature. It is becoming more normal for youngsters to post pictures or videos of themselves online without parental oversight and without indicating their true age. At times, these images contain sexually explicit activity and can be leaked into the infinite abyss of the Internet for all to see. This can create a dangerous trap for adults who are seeking adult entertainment on the web, and the repercussions can be dire and unsympathetic to innocent motives. Websites are increasingly becoming riddled with aggressive pop ups and ads that contain minors engaging in sexual activity. With the swift click of a button, a well-meaning adult comes face to face with prison. A Federal Offense Under federal law, it is illegal to produce, distribute, receive or possess any sexually explicit images of a person under the age of 18. Just having nude pictures of a minor can constitute a child pornography offense regardless of whether the state allows younger ages of consent for sexual activity. The consequences of child pornography are severe, and simply accessing such images with the intent to view them can land a defendant a minimum of 5 years in prison. In addition to prison time, a defendant may also be required to register as a sex offender, pay steep fines, and live under supervision upon release. Florida Law A defendant may also be convicted under state law. In Florida, knowingly producing, transmitting or possessing child pornography is a third degree felony, and is also punishable by imprisonment, fines, and supervised release. For example, a Florida District Court judge recently sentenced a man to 16 years and 8 months in federal prison for transporting child pornography over the Internet. In addition to his prison sentence, the judge ordered 20 years of supervised release and registration as a sex offender. The Defense The demoralizing effects of these consequences that befall a defendant are absolutely intended. However, there are potential defenses that can ease the punishment. The first defense is if the defendant possessed very few – three or fewer – visual depictions constituting child pornography. The second defense is if the defendant, upon realizing the age of the minor, quickly and in good faith destroyed the content or reported the depiction to law enforcement. Protect Yourself At Moses & Rooth, our sex crime defense attorneys empathize with the fact that harsh stigmas descend upon those accused of child pornography. Our legal professionals will navigate through the law to ensure that the best defense is provided. We understand that not all defendants are criminals and not all defendants deserve such severe penalties. If you are facing conviction of child pornography in Florida, contact our Orlando office today.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Criminal Defense

Implications of Failing to Register as a Sex Offender in Florida

Being a registered sex offender has a tremendous impact on a person’s social, personal, emotional, and professional life. Conviction of most, if not all, sex-related crimes, will require a person charged with the crime to register as a sex offender in the State of Florida within a specific time period after the charge. Being on  the sex offender list or registry will limit a person’s ability to travel, location of residence, and ability to be near schools and parks, and may have other serious implications. Failure to properly (and timely) register as a sex offender is a felony in and of itself, and can lead to a prison sentence Florida Sex Crimes Whether you committed a sexual act against a minor, were charged with sexual battery, or virtually any other sex-related criminal offense, you are deemed a sex offender under the eyes of the law. Some of the other sex-related crimes that will require registration on the sex offender registry include: Child pornography; Molestation; Sex Trafficking Internet crimes/solicitation; Traveling to meet a minor; When you are charged with one of these offenses or a similar crime, your obligation to register as a sex offender begins; this is the case even if you committed your crime outside of Florida, but are living in Florida either temporarily or permanently. The Sex Offender Registry requires that when you are released from prison or are placed on probation, and you are maintaining residence in the state of Florida, you must timely provide your basic demographic information (name, age, sex, height, weight, etc.) plus addresses, e-mails/websites, vehicle information, all associated telephone numbers, passport, etc. There are additional requirements for individuals that have committed crimes against minors, work in higher education, or for repeat offenders. The frequency of the reporting requirements (how often an offender must go in and make sure their information is current) depends on the offense as well. Repeat offenders, as well as many first time offenders that have committed certain acts of rape, prostitution involving a minor, or other sexual acts against children, will be deemed sexual predators, a heightened designation on the sex offender registry due to the context of the crimes. There are a number of crimes that can land you on a sex offender registry that you may not realize. For example, a Florida couple was recently convicted of “lewd and lascivious exhibition” for having sex on a public beach. They face up to 15 years in jail and registry on a sex offender list for this crime. Engaging in sexual acts in vehicles, public parks, or other public places are also unlawful and may lead to severe consequences. Sex crimes are taken very seriously in Florida, even when they are not being committed against a minor or forcibly against someone. As seen in the sex on the beach case (not the drink) a person can be convicted of a sex crime even when they are engaging in the acts consensually with someone they have a relationship with. Florida Sexual Crimes Defense Attorney Unfortunately for the couple discovered engaging in lewd and lascivious activity on the beach, “I didn’t know it was illegal” is not a valid excuse. There is little flexibility in the criminal justice system for those who have engaged in any sexual-related crime, especially for those who commit acts against minors. Even being suspected of a sex crime can be damaging to your reputation, as well as personal and professional lives. At Moses & Rooth, our knowledgeable sexual crimes defense attorneys have seen these cases from both sides; as former prosecutors, we know how to navigate the system and how to take advantage of holes in the prosecution’s case. The best thing you can do for yourself after being charged with a sex crime is to contact an attorney before you say anything to police personnel. Regardless of whether you are facing charges or have already been convicted and have questions about compliance with your continuing obligations, contact our Orlando office today for a complimentary consultation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

Can a Florida resident be removed from the sex offender’s list?

Florida laws regarding sex offenders and predators is very strict. Every citizen residing in the state of Florida who is convicted of a sexual offense, as defined in the Florida statutes, must register as a sex offender with the local sheriff’s office in the county of their residence. The information is then made public record. Offenders who move are required to update their driver’s license or identification card within 48 hours. The offenders also have to maintain that registration throughout the remainder of their life. In addition, two to four times a year (depending on the offense), they must update their registration as a sex offender. Temporary residents in the state of Florida, such as workers who stay for periods of time, must also register. Can a sex offender ever be liberated from this list? A registered sexual offender can petition the court to be deleted from the list, but only if they meet the following criteria: Have been pardoned from the original offense. Have received post-conviction relief; in other words, a judge has decided it was unconstitutional in your case. Have been released from all confinement or supervision for a period of at least 25 years, with no additional arrests for misdemeanor or felony offenses. Note that this option is not available to all registered sex offenders, but is dependent on the type of original defense. See Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators for more information on these offenses. What is the “Romeo & Juliet” law? Florida Statute 943.04354, called the Romeo and Juliet act, may provide relief from the registered sex offenders list requirement if certain criteria is met. If an offender’s victim is between the ages of 14 and 17, which is within four years of the offender’s age, and the victim claims to have been consensual in the sex act, the offender may petition the court for relief. The offender also must have no other records that require registering. It is very challenging to be removed from the registered sex offenders list, which is public across the nation, and updated dynamically when a name is added. For those charged with sex crimes, it is important to defend your charges to the fullest extent upfront. The consequences of a conviction is, more often than not, for the rest of your life. Source: FDLE Florida Sex Offenders and Predators, “Sex Offenders and Predators,” Aug. 28, 2014

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

Sting leads to charges against Florida theme park worker

It is the greatest place on Earth, unless you are an accused sex offender. That is what one Florida man has discovered about Walt Disney World, his former employer, after he was charged with child pornography sex crimes. The man pleaded not guilty to charges of traveling to meet a minor for unlawful sexual activity, along with allegations of soliciting a child for sexual acts. The man is just one of dozens of Disney workers who have been accused of sex crimes against kids in recent years; in all, 32 area theme park employees have been convicted since 2006, with some representing Universal Studios and SeaWorld. The man in this case argues that he was attempting to protect the fictitious 14-year-old girl who was soliciting sexual encounters online in Lake County, Florida. It turns out that the encounter was a ruse set up by area police officers; those who arrived at the girl’s supposed home were taken into custody. The man tells officers that he intended to call authorities when he arrived at the girl’s home, and that he never wanted to harm her or commit any sex crimes. This defendant had overseen ride repairs at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Other workers have also been identified in police stings, including those in the costuming department, security guards, tour guides and maintenance specialists. A recent sting concluded this month, with three theme park employees being arrested for alleged sex crimes against children. Officers tread a fine line between entrapment and legal crime-prevention strategies when they set up this type of sex sting. Defendants should remember that they are not automatically considered guilty simply because they are arrested for alleged solicitation of a minor. Legal options are available for those defendants who find themselves targeted by police through these dubious methods. Source: CNN, “Theme park employees caught in sex stings, child porn arrests” Kyra Phillips and Scott Zamost, Jul. 14, 2014

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Sex Crimes

Florida man with extensive record assaults girl in Walmart

A man in Florida who has a list of arrests for sex crimes has recently found himself facing more charges after he allegedly touched a girl while in a local Walmart. Most recently, the man was allowed to leave prison in the summer of 2013. This event could end up putting him back behind bars again if he is convicted. According to authorities, the entire thing was recording by the various security cameras in the department store. It appears that the man followed the girl, perhaps establishing an intent to assault her. He then touched her the first time, and she went to another part of the store. The man allegedly tracked her down there and touched her again. The girl is 12 years old. Another shopper who was asked, who has children of her own, said that a situation like this is frightening and that every parent dreads having something of this nature happen to their children. One interesting aspect of the previous stint in jail, the one that ended in June of 2013, was that the man was given a sentence of 11 years. For reasons that are not immediately clear, he did not have to serve more than roughly three years of that sentence before being released. His name has been previously added to the Sex Offender Database used by authorities across Florida. In this case, he has been denied bond. Police have stated that they do have some suspicion that this girl may not be the man’s only victim. When facing molestation charges or similar sexual charges, those who have been accused still have the right to a fair trial for the current allegations, regardless of their history of other convictions and jail time. Source: Click Orlando,

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| Read Time: 1 minute | Sex Crimes

2 Orlando men accused of running a prostitution ring

Ten individuals have been arrested in connection with an alleged organized crime and prostitution ring in Orlando. Agents from the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation completed the arrests after raiding three different homes on a recent Wednesday. The arrests came following a 16-year-old going to police to say that she and other individuals had been forced into prostitution by the alleged crime ring. Law enforcement agents believe that the operation included approximately 10 sex workers. Allegedly, clients would meet the prostitutes in hotel rooms or at local homes. In some cases, the pimps would rob the men who had shown up for sex services. According to a lieutenant from the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, some of the arrested individuals and suspects were armed with firearms. Two of men, aged 33 and 28, have been arrested and accused of being the leaders of the alleged crime ring. Allegedly, the men controlled their prostitutes through violence and threats, and they also allegedly bribed prostitutes with drugs. The two alleged ringleaders of this Orlando prostitution group face a total of 50 misdemeanor and 90 felony charges. The charges are exceedingly serious, including battery, drug trafficking, armed robbery and other charges. Charges of human trafficking may also be made against the men. Even if these men are found guilty of a few of the highly serious charges being brought against them, they could be forced to spend many years behind bars. For this reason, their legal defense representative must handle their legal defense with intelligence and an in-depth understanding of the law. During their legal defense, the men may try to cast doubt on the prosecution’s version of the facts, and/or they may try to reach a plea bargaining agreement. Source: News 13, “Career criminals’ arrested in Orlando prostitution bust” Margaret Kavanagh, Jun. 04, 2014

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

Former educator accused of sexual battery dating back to 1990s

The former chair of an East Coast school board has been arrested and charged in Florida in connection with a variety of sex crimes dating back to the 1990s. Authorities report that the 53-year-old technology expert is accused of abusing girls in Virginia, where he served as a politician, ex-military police officer and teacher. The defendant was arrested on June 2 after the sexual battery charges came to light. Official reports show that the man is accused of sexually abusing four alleged victims, all of whom were ages 6 to 10 at the time of the supposed abuse. In all, the man is being charged with a whopping 48 counts of both aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties with a minor while in a supervisory role. He is also accused of 15 counts of object penetration. Authorities say that although the man was reportedly active in church and school activities during his time in Virginia, it does not appear as though any of the molestation incidents are connected with those responsibilities. The defendant was taken into custody after an investigation for a routine background check through the Defense Intelligence Agency. The man had been working with that branch of the Department of Defense until he was arrested; he has been suspended from his job. Although it may seem easy to sympathize with victims in such cold cases, it is important to remember that physical evidence is a critical part of many criminal proceedings. Abuse dating back to the 1990s may not be supported by enough concrete evidence to convict the man of the sex crimes. It is possible that the allegations are based on false accusations from the reported victims. Criminal defendants have a right to be protected from such nefarious actions. Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Sex crimes alleged against Brevard man who led Virginia school district” Kevin P. Connolly, Jun. 09, 2014

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