Avvo Rating badge
NACDL badge
Expertise badge
Avvo Rating badge
Expertise Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in St. Petersburg
The National Trial Lawyers Top 100

Federal Sex Crimes

Criminal Defense Lawyers for St. Petersburg Area Residents

In Florida, both federal prosecutors and state prosecutors can bring sex crimes charges. However, sex crimes are often charged as federal crimes. The FBI and federal marshals may work in tandem to gather the evidence against you. The penalties are particularly harsh for federal sex crimes. This makes it wise to hire an experienced St. Petersburg sex crimes attorney to help you understand and defend your rights if you are being investigated for or charged with an offense of this nature.

Federal Sex Crimes

Federal sex crimes can occur in person and online. Sometimes they involve physical violence and bodily injury, while in other cases, they involve online communications. These types of charges are pursued tenaciously by federal prosecutors, usually under Title 18 of the United States Code (U.S.C.). The federal government takes federal sex crimes seriously, and seeks harsh punishments for them.

A commonly charged federal sex crime is child pornography, which is penalized under 18 U.S.C. section 2251. You can be convicted under section 2251 if a prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you: (1) knowingly, (2) printed, published, or distributed a notice or ad, (3) that requests the exchange, display, purchase, sale, or distribution of child pornography. If a prosecutor cannot show you “knowingly” did this, you should not be convicted.

Child pornography is not the only federal sex crime. Another federal sex crime is found under section 2425, which prohibits the sending of information about a minor with the intent to offer, encourage or entice the minor to be engaged in sex that’s subject to criminal charges.


If you are convicted of a federal sex crime, you may be required to register as a sex offender. If you again perpetrate a felony involving a minor under certain code sections and are convicted, you will be sentenced to ten years in prison in addition to any imprisonment imposed for the underlying sex crime.

It’s a federal offense for sex offenders that need to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) to knowingly not update or not register as required. You can also be prosecuted if you don’t register and you engage in foreign or interstate travel, or leave an Indian reservation. Failure to properly register can result in ten years in prison, and if you don’t register or update after being required to do so and perpetrate a violent federal crime, you may be sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment.


Although “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a tough standard for prosecutors to meet, most prosecutors will not bring federal sex crime charges without enough evidence to believe they might win. Being charged with a sex crime does more than present the possibility of a criminal record; often people believe sex crime allegations. It is important to hire a criminal defense attorney with the experience and knowledge to push the prosecutor to his or her limits in establishing a case. Experienced defense counsel will look at all possible strategies and use the ones most suited to defend you.

Sometimes there is evidence that you are guilty, but it could be interpreted more than one way, or it’s insufficient to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. In such cases, it can be appropriate to raise reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors. Often, it’s especially challenging for prosecutors to establish that actions were “knowing” or “intended” to accomplish a particular end. It can also be a good strategy to raise Constitutional or procedural defenses.

Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys Serving St. Petersburg

Prosecutors pursue federal sex crime cases aggressively, and convictions can result in substantial penalties. If you are concerned about accusations that you committed a sex crime in St. Petersburg, experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you protect your rights and your future. At Hanlon Law, our founder Will Hanlon has provided strong strategic defenses to the accused since 1994. Please contact Hanlon Law at 727.289.0222 or via our online form.

Client Reviews
As a practicing attorney, I was shocked to hear that a family member of mine was alleged to have committed a sex crime. Knowing full well the consequences this type of allegation can have on anyone and their future, I immediately reached out to William Hanlon for help. I had every confidence that Mr. Hanlon had the knowledge, expertise, and experience to handle this problem. Approximately 4 weeks from an initial conference with Mr. Hanlon, we received a call with the news that a letter of release was being issued and the case was being dropped. Now my family member can finally exhale, take a deep breath, and go on with his life. Thank you, William! Jerry
Was on the ball. Remembered names, events, places, situations. Never need to re explain the situation. Keeps in touch through out the entire experience and keeps you feeling safe, comforted and protected. Fights hard. Worth every single penny. Would never settle for anything less than Will. Carrie
I was facing a charge that if convicted would carry two years in prison minimally. Not only was he empathetic and listening to what I had to say but he arranged with the prosecutor for my charges not to be filed under terms of a pre trial investigation. Would highly recommend. Alec
I am very happy for what he did for me. Always there when I needed him. Explained everything well. He Fights for his clients. He got me what I needed. Hes an excellent lawyer. Mutaz
Mr. Hanlon did what no other lawyer could do. Not only did he turn my criminal history into a thing of the past so I could move on, he was a loyal associate. No matter how bad the situation is, he has miraculously cleared me on every charge since he became my lawyer 5 years ago. I have the best lawyer that the legal system has to offer. I have had other really good lawyers try to get my business, but I know that no one can do a better job than William Hanlon. Jesse