Sexual Cyber Harassment
Sexual cyber harassment has risen dramatically over the past decade. Also known as revenge porn, it has led to the creation of several websites that have cropped up solely for the purpose of posting sexually explicit photographs. Some have required the people depicted to pay to have the pictures taken down. In response to this, Florida and other states have enacted laws criminalizing the posting of these photos. Sexual cyber harassment is taken seriously in St. Petersburg. If you are charged with sexual cyber harassment or a related crime like child pornography, you should contact St. Petersburg sex crime attorney Will Hanlon.Sexual Cyber Harassment
Generally, when somebody hands over a sexually explicit image, they expect that this image will stay private. Often, the exchange occurs between people in an intimate relationship. After a relationship sours, one person may decide to post the image in order to embarrass and upset the former partner. Although this may seem relatively trivial, it is a crime for which you can be arrested and harshly punished.
Under Florida Statute section 784.049, a prosecutor hoping to secure a conviction for sexual cyber harassment needs to establish that:
- The defendant published a sexually explicit photo or other image of another person that includes or displays personal identification information about the person who is shown in the image;
- This was done without consent and without a legitimate purpose; and
- This was done for the purpose of causing substantial emotional distress to the depicted person.
A sexually explicit image is defined as one that shows nudity or engagement in sexual actions. If the sexually explicit image is of somebody who is under the age of 18, there may be child pornography or other charges. These can make the charges substantially more serious because with those charges may come a requirement that you register as a sex offender.
An initial conviction is a misdemeanor. The conviction carries a potential sentence of one year in jail, one year of probation, and $1,000 in fines. The penalties are harsher if you are convicted again. A second offense is charged as a third-degree felony. This means that you could be sentenced to five years of imprisonment, five years on probation, $5,000 in fines, and a 60-day vehicle impoundment. The judge must sentence you to a minimum of 10 days in jail, although you could face the full five years in prison. An exception is if there are mitigating factors that provide a reason to depart downward.
Mitigating circumstances could include an un-coerced plea bargain, being an accomplice rather than the primary participant, having an impaired capacity to comprehend the criminal nature of the conduct, having a mental disorder for which you are amenable to treatment, duress, cooperation, and youthfulness . An experienced attorney can raise any of these issues when defending you.
It is important to have a skillful criminal defense attorney on board not only to present mitigating factors but also to provide a strong defense. In many cases, the elements are not present with a sufficient degree of evidence to secure a conviction. For example, the statute requires that the publication identify the person depicted. If you did not identify the person in the picture, or there is not proper evidence that you did, you may be able to defeat a charge of sexual cyber harassment. In other cases, there are procedural defenses. For example, if the search warrant of your home was not properly obtained, or there was not probable cause to arrest you for sexual cyber harassment, your attorney may be able to raise these as strong defenses in seeking a dismissal or acquittal.Consult a Sex Crime Attorney in St. Petersburg or Surrounding Areas
In 2013, the Tampa Bay Times reported that the number of sex offenders in the area around St. Petersburg was steadily rising. If you are charged with sexual cyber harassment, you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as early as possible in the process, or even before charges are filed. Our founder, Attorney Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation since 1994. Call Hanlon Law at 727.289.0222 or submit our online form.