Tampa Internet Sex Crimes Lawyer
With the rise of the internet, sex crimes have moved online and represent an area of intense law enforcement focus. Child pornography stings, for example, regularly make the news with images of defendants escorted to police vans in handcuffs. Sex crimes are prosecuted by both the state and federal governments, and penalties for a conviction are among the most severe in the law.
It is very easy for someone to accidentally click on a link and pull up an inappropriate image on their computer. At O’Mara Law Group, we understand that not everyone charged with online sex crimes is a hardened predator who poses an imminent risk to children. If investigators show up on your doorstep, please contact our firm. One of our Tampa internet sex crimes lawyers will meet with you.
Serious Consequences for Internet Sex Crimes
The internet is awash with pornography. However, any sexual conduct or communication involving minors is among the most serious charges that a defendant can face:
- Possession of child pornography. It is illegal to download or even view sexually-suggestive images of children or images of children engaged in sexual activity. Investigators can find out if you downloaded images even if you delete them or try to wipe your hard drive.
- Distribution of child pornography. Sharing pornographic images of minors is an even worse offense and typically garners the most severe penalties imaginable.
- Soliciting a minor. Sending any online communications to those under 18 might lead to a solicitation charge. Examples of solicitation include arranging to meet a minor for sexual activity or sending a sexually explicit image to a minor. Even receiving sexually explicit images can run afoul of the law. A key point that is often overlooked: ignorance of the child’s age is not a defense.
The punishments are serious. Years in prison and huge fines are only some of the penalties that await. Convicted defendants will also need to register as sex offenders in most cases and can suffer public embarrassment.
How to Defend Against These Cases
Cases involving inappropriate sexual communications raise many sensitive legal issues. For example, some people are caught up in government stings. Agents will pose as minors and actively seek out people in chat rooms, often introducing the idea of meeting up for sex themselves. Sometimes, this conduct crosses the line when agents induce or entrap defendants.
Another key issue is whether the defendant actually took steps to go through with a meeting. It is one thing to chat with a minor in a sexual manner and quite another to actually put into practice a plan to meet.
Overly zealous investigators can also violate a suspect’s right to privacy by illegally searching computers and cellphones or a person’s home without probable cause. Any violation of a client’s constitutional rights should result in the suppression of evidence.
Finally, there is always the issue of mistaken identity. Many people can access a phone or computer. To obtain a conviction, prosecutors must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant engaged in criminal conduct.
Speak with a Tampa Internet Sex Crimes Attorney Today
This is a difficult time. At O’Mara Law Group, we can review the evidence and listen to your side of events. We can also carefully analyze the best defense to bring. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.