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What Child Pornography Charges Can You Face for Downloading Photos and Pictures?

Suppose your 15-year-old son sent nude photos of himself to his 14-year-old girlfriend through emails and texts. Now what?

Sexting has caught on among today’s teenagers. Florida statutes define sexting as electronic data transmission of photos depicting nudity that is harmful to minors, which includes depicting sexual excitement or sexual conduct as described under state statutes. Unlike many states, Florida passed its own laws for teenagers involved in sexting. Fortunately, these laws make teenage sexting a different crime than child pornography crimes as applied to adults.

Teenagers receiving unsolicited sexting who also did not transmit or distribute the photos to others and reported the incident to their parents, legal guardian, school or law enforcement officials are not subject to sexting charges.

However, teenage sexting senders can be charged with a noncriminal violation, a first-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony, depending on the circumstances involved. When photographs or videos are sent during the same 24-hour period, authorities consider it a single offense. (This fact is significant because multiple offenses can lead to more serious charges.)

Potential penalties are:

  • Noncriminal violation (first violation): Eight hours of community service or a $60 fine, with possible participation in suitable training or instruction
  • First-degree misdemeanor: Maximum imprisonment of one year and $1,000 fine
  • Third-degree felony: Maximum imprisonment of five years and $5,000 fine

Authorities can prosecute minors when photographs or videos depicting nudity also depict sexual conduct or sexual excitement, or when minors engage in stalking. Cyberstalking is defined as electronic communication that harasses or causes substantial emotional distress. Cyberstalking is a first-degree misdemeanor, or when charged as aggravated stalking (malicious, willful and repeated), it is a third-degree felony.

Parents are wise to protect their child’s rights by consulting with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced law firm can work to prevent indictment or to get charges dismissed or reduced. An attorney also can prepare effective strategies for seeking acquittal.