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Polk County Criminal Defense Blog

Strong criminal defense important in fighting charges of sexting, child pornography

One of the unfortunate realities of easy access to Internet and electronic communications is that there is more opportunity for young people to get in trouble. This is particularly true when it comes to “sexting,” which has become a rather common occurrence among teens in Florida and across the country.

Under Florida law, it is illegal for minors to knowingly using a computer or other mobile device to send photographs or videos depicting nudity to another minor, or to possess such material sent by another minor. The law provides that a minor cannot be charged with sexting if he or she did not solicit the images, took reasonable steps to report the material to a guardian, school or to the police, and did not send the material to another party. 

Work with experienced attorney to defend against cyberstalking charges, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the topic of revenge porn and the expectation of privacy revenge porn laws seek to protect with respect to sexually explicit images. As we noted, revenge porn laws are not universally supported because, in the view of some critics, they codify an unreasonable expectation of privacy in the digital age and encourage people to relinquish discretion in sharing explicit images with others.

For those who have been charged in connection with revenge porn, it is important to understand that certain elements have to be proven before the state can obtain a conviction. For one thing, it isn’t revenge porn—or “cyberstalking”—if the individual depicted in the image or video provided consent to the publishing of the image. The exact limits of consent in the context of Florida’s cyberstalking law—such as when consent is provided but revoked—have yet to be defined, but it is conceivable that this could become a disputed issue in cyberstalking cases.

Work with experienced attorney to defend against cyberstalking charges, P.1

The ubiquity of mobile phones and other portable electronic devices, not to mention the Internet, have opened up a whole world of possibilities in terms of communication and sharing of information. This is certain good in many respects, but there are also potential dangers with respect to privacy.

One of the dark results of this ease of communication is revenge porn, which is becoming increasingly common. Revenge porn can be particularly harmful to those who are targeted by it, and it is not hard to find sympathetic stories of victims targeted by this behavior. Many states have illegalized revenge porn in an effort to curb the behavior. 

Why it is important to work with an experienced attorney in federal drug sentencing, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the basic structure of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and why it is important to work with an experienced attorney to navigate the sentencing process when the guidelines are at play. As we noted, the guidelines are not mandatory, but federal judges do generally take them seriously.

In addition to determining the seriousness level of an offense and making any appropriate adjustments to that number, federal judges must also take into account the criminal history of the offender before imposing a sentence. In the current scheme there are six criminal history categories based on the offender’s previous record. In making the appropriate determining here, the court has to carefully consider the offender’s criminal record, and this may involve detailed consideration of the way previous cases were resolved. 

Why it is important to work with an experienced attorney in federal drug sentencing, P.1

Sentencing is an important aspect of any criminal case, as it is the stage of the process where the court determines the penalties a defendant will face. Decisions made in the sentencing phase can mean the difference between hope and despair. In federal drug cases, it is particularly important for criminal defendants to work with an attorney who understands how the Federal Sentencing Guidelines work, so that they have the strongest possible advocacy at this stage.

The first thing to understand about the Federal Sentencing Guidelines is that they are not mandatory upon federal judges, but rather advisory. Federal judges to strongly consider the guidelines when making decisions. They guidelines work by prescribing a sentencing range based on the seriousness of the offense for which the defendant was convicted and the defendant’s criminal history. 

Jeff Sessions announces new prosecutorial policy for federal drug crimes

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo to federal prosecutors nationwide in which he laid out the Justice Department’s policy with regard to the prosecution of drug crimes. The memo is a significant change from the department’s policy under former attorney general Eric Holder, who told prosecutors to avoid criminal charges involving mandatory minimum sentences, particularly for nonviolent drug offenders.

Sessions’ approach to prosecutorial policy is, instead, to have federal prosecutors pursue the most serious crimes applicable and to ask for the strictest penalties. Prosecutors have been instructed not to ignore drug quantities to avoid trigger strict sentences, as was common under Holder. Critics of the new policy have called it a return to the War on Drugs, which put a heavy focus on incarceration. 

Reports highlight increases in domestic violence in FL, nationwide

According to a report recently released by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, there has been a significant increase in domestic violence calls nationwide involving immigration-related concerns. Specifically, the report found that since the rise of Donald Trump, there has been an increase in the number of domestic violence calls in which abusers have been threatening to call federal immigration authorities.  

The increase reportedly began to be seen last year, as Donald Trump secured his place as the GOP nominee, and that trend continued through 2016, making for a nearly 30 percent increase from 2015. One of the concerns with the trend is that immigrants who are experiencing abuse are going to increasingly choose not to report to authorities. 

FBI monitoring a rise in email fraud

When it comes to internet crimes, email is one of the most monitored areas for fraud. Whether it’s local law enforcement or the FBI, authorities are on the lookout for online schemes looking to defraud the unsuspecting.

Email fraud cases can have wide-ranging implications, and the penalties for committing this type of crime can be severe.

Emerging trend stretches limits of state sexual assault laws

Sexual assault, as readers are aware, can take various forms and can follow certain trends depending on the state of popular culture. One emerging trend that has been gaining increasing attention in certain circles is the practice of “stealthing.”

For those unfamiliar, the term refers to the practice of removing a condom in the middle of a sex act without the other partner’s consent. The practice is not limited to heterosexual men, and is promoted by some as a man’s right. On the other hand, stealthing could also be looked at as just the newest trend in sexual assault. 

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