June 10 2020
The social distancing and job losses resulting from the Coronavirus shutdown has caused a spike in sex crime investigations and prosecutions here in Sarasota. As more and more people avoided in person social contact, computer crimes have gone up. With the various public assistance programs handing out billions in aid, there is going to be an explosion of fraud cases dealing with false claims for disaster aid and unemployment, including food stamps. In the meantime the Sarasota County Sheriff’s office continues to very aggressively arrest and prosecute anyone who even looks at a single image of what they deem child pornography on a computer or cell phone application.
Parents, if you have a teenage son, you have to impress upon him, how very dangerous even looking at a single video can be. There is an old saying that “curiosity killed the cat” and when it comes to child pornography prosecutions here in Sarasota,that is absolutely true. The State attorney here in Sarasota has implemented a policy of charging 40 second degree felonies in most child porn cases. Even if a person downloaded a single file with a single click of a mouse, the State Attorney here chooses to charge each single image as a second degree felony, running the Florida sentencing guidelines up to life in prison. They are even prosecuting teenagers for kiddie porn here in Sarasota. If a teenage girl, sends a pic of her breasts or her vagina to another teenage boy (sexting), the young man can find himself facing prison as well as becoming a registered sex offender.
Detectives do not have to leave their office to do child pornography investigations. Instead of doing the regular Internet sex stings, involving dozens of officers, take down houses and the expenditure of vast resources, the detectives in the privacy of their offices can run up arrest statistics in child porn prosecutions simply sitting at their computer. As a sex crime lawyer I have seen some terribly unfair arrests and prosecutions. Image, looking at a single image sent on Snapchat or KIK can land your son, your husband, your grandfather or some other loved on in jail and making them a registered sex offender for life.
Why does anyone look at child pornography? It is a treatable illness and many times just morbid curiosity. The prosecutors here in Sarasota actually believe that if a person even looks at a single video they are dangerous and a likely child predator. Nothing could be more incorrect.
Many young men, and even older men, were victims of sexual abuse at a very tender age. They are reliving things that were done to them. Only 3% of child pornography viewers have any history of committing real contact sex crimes. Most are introverts (particularly the young men) with zero history of committing any crime, much less a sex crime. Child pornography can be prevented. Prevention is always better than prosecution. With modern technology, the transmission of child pornography can be blocked. Most of the videos and images of child pornography are known to law enforcement, and can easily be blocked by the Internet providers. In the meantime, the arrests continue.
Sadly, the State attorney’s policy here in Sarasota makes some child victims of sexual abuse a victim again later in life when they relive the events looking at child pornography. I welcome your views on this subject.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for possession of child pornography or are under investigation for child pornography, please call and talk to me about your situation and let me, Peter D Aiken criminal defense attorney specializing in sex crimes, give you some suggested options.