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Sebastian Computer & Sex Crimes

Criminal Defense Lawyer in St Lucie, Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee

In recent years, the media in Sebastian has created hysteria associated with respect to computer sex crimes involving minors. The most notorious of these media outlets is NBC, with the Dateline series "To Catch a Predator" catching the eyes and ears of millions of viewers.

Unfortunately, the government has responded to the political pressure that comes along with this kind of media coverage and public outrage. Instead of enacting penalties that are reasonable, the punishment for these offenses has been dramatically and irrationally increased.

The most common computer sex offenses that are being investigated and prosecuted today are internet solicitation of a minor and possession of child pornography. There exists an array of different charging decisions that the government can make in these kinds of cases.

CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

Under Florida state law, possession of child pornography is a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison for each photo in possession of the accused, and often times the prosecution will file a new count for each image that they find.

In Federal court, possession of child pornography carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years in prison. The way the legislature has set up the sentencing guidelines, the average child pornography possession case always carries an "advisory" prison sentence. This means that Federal judges are told to consider the guidelines and use them as "advice" from the United States Sentencing Commission. Although these sentencing guidelines are not mandatory, it can be an uphill battle to persuade a Federal judge to sentence someone below these guidelines.

The potential penalties only get worse if the State or Federal government file charges involving transmission of child pornography or distribution of child pornography.

These Sebastian cases are not impossible to defend. The government has to get through a number of hurdles before they can prove a child pornography case beyond a reasonable doubt. First and foremost, they have to be able show that the search and seizure of the computer, disks, magazines, or images was legal and did not violate the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The truth is that many law enforcement officers have no respect for the 4th Amendment and believe it only exists to protect the guilty. Sometimes law enforcement will use coercion to gain entry into someone's home or office. Sometimes law enforcement won't have enough evidence to get a lawful search warrant. There are a myriad of 4th Amendment issues that need to be researched and evaluated in every child pornography case. As a board certified criminal trial specialist, Brian Mallonee tirelessly reviews every 4th Amendment issue with a fine tooth comb on every case he defends.

The government also has to prove that the person they are accusing of possessing child pornography is also the person who was sitting at the keyboard when the images were downloaded and viewed. Hiring a criminal defense attorney who has successfully argued this defense in front of a jury can mean the difference between your freedom and two decades in prison.

The government must prove that the person accused of child pornography possession knew what was being downloaded. A number of questions have to be addressed, such as:

Is there any evidence of remote access? Did the images pop up accidentally? Were they pop up images? Was the computer hacked into? Was the computer used as a part of zombie network? Was there any IP spoofing? Is there any evidence of internet hijacking? Data carving? What keyword searches were employed? Is the date/time stamp accurate? Are the images really minors or could they be 18 years old?

These are just some of the many questions that the government is forced to answer in order to prove it's case beyond a reasonable doubt. As you can tell, there are numerous avenues that can be explored to successfully defend a child pornography case.

Mr. Mallonee defends child pornography cases out of his office in Fort Pierce, Florida. He represents people (Federal and State court) accused of crimes in all of the following counties: Sebastian (Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie), Indian River (Vero Beach, Sebastian), Martin (Sebastian, Palm City), Okeechobee, and Highlands (Sebring). If you or someone you care about wants to talk to a criminal attorney who has successfully defended these cases, don't hesitate to call Brian Mallonee at (772) 464-1991.

INTERNET SOLICITATION OF A MINOR

Under Florida state law internet solicitation of a minor is a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison for each count that is charged. Sometimes the government will charge someone with multiple counts even though the person accused of the crimes was speaking to the same law enforcement officer during a series of chat room conversations.

Florida state law has also recently changed with respect to cases where the government alleges that the accused actually traveled any distance to meet a minor. It is now a 2nd degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison in these kind of cases.

The legislature has also made it clear that law enforcement officers can pretend to be minors online or on the phone and all the state has to prove is that the accused believed the other person was a minor.

Under Federal law, the government must essentially prove the same elements as they do in state court. The penalties, however, are much different. If someone is convicted of attempting to solicit, lure, or entice a minor to commit a sexual act in Federal court a 10 year minimum mandatory sentence applies. This means that a judge has no discretion to sentence a person convicted of internet solicitation of a minor to anything less than 10 years in Federal prison, and that is just the minimum. Often times, the Federal prosecutor will try to use various "enhancements" to try and get the judge to sentence people to even more prison time. On top of that, a period of supervised release (probation) is always imposed with a slew of restrictions. Finally, being labeled a sex offender is something the legislature has now mandated for people convicted in these kinds of cases.

Clearly the stakes are high in these kinds of cases. That's why a criminal lawyer who has experience successfully defending internet sex crimes is critical. There are a number of viable defenses to internet sex crime allegations.

It goes without saying that in order to convict someone of using a computer to lure, entice, or solicit a minor for sex the government has to prove that the person accused of the crime was the same person who was actually sitting in front of the keyboard. Raising doubts about the identity of the person can be a viable defense in these situations.

One of the most common occurrences in Sebastian is government entrapment. Law enforcement will often times cross the line during the chat room conversation by using trickery to get innocent citizens to type things they normally wouldn't have even considered typing.

Another situation that arises sometimes is fantasy chat. It is not illegal to have fantasies. Often times folks will engage in internet chat where one party pretends to be under the age of 18 to fulfill a particular fantasy. Law enforcement will often times rush to judgment in these kinds of scenarios and dismiss the reasonable possibility that this was the case.

Hiring a criminal lawyer who has vigorously and successfully employed these defenses is of utmost importance. You also want to hire a criminal attorney who practices in the jurisdiction where the person is being charged. The Law Office of Brian H. Mallonee is located near the State and Federal courthouses in downtown Fort Pierce which is in St. Lucie County, Florida. He also defends internet sex crimes in state and federal court that are charged out of the counties of Indian River (Vero Beach, Sebastian), Martin (Sebastian, Palm City), Okeechobee, and Highlands (Sebring).

If you or someone you care about wants to talk to a board certified criminal trial lawyer about an internet sex crime allegation, contact Brian Mallonee at (772) 464-1991.

SEX CRIMES

An allegation of a sex crime can be very traumatic. The consequences of a conviction are severe, and the label that society places upon someone convicted of a sex crime is permanent.

False allegations of a sex crime are all too common. Some typical motivations for this include:

  • Revenge

  • leverage during child custody fights

  • jealousy

  • improper coaching of a child

  • manipulation of a child by an angry parent

  • misinterpreted hug/touch

There are some important steps that need to be taken when defending an allegation of any sex crime. Depending upon individual facts and circumstances it could be helpful to secure a private and confidential polygraph examination. If the results turn out well, submitting the results to the authorities may help raise doubts about the alleged victim's version of the events.

Investigating the accuser is usually a focus of any sex crime allegation. Finding a way to discredit and cast reasonable doubts about the accusation are paramount to a successful defense strategy.

Having a board certified criminal trial specialist who is smart, creative, and aggressive on your side could make the difference. Brian Mallonee defends folks accused of sex offenses in Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Sebastian, and Okeechobee, Florida. If you or someone you care about is looking for a criminal defense lawyer to speak to about an allegation of a sex-related crime, call Brian Mallonee at (772) 464-1991.

Criminal Defense Specialties in Sebastian Florida
Federal Crimes | State Crimes | Computer & Sex Crimes | DUI & DWLS | Drug & Narcotic Crimes
Violent & Gun Crimes | Theft & Property Crimes | Juvenile Crimes
Probation Violations | Record Sealing


Brian Mallonee is a Criminal Defense Lawyer Serving
St Lucie, Indian River, Martin, and Okeechobee Counties

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