Since the invention and dissemination of the Internet, the world has changed dramatically—in both positive and negative ways. On one hand, the internet has facilitated the rapid spread of information and communication which has undoubtedly benefited many people throughout the world. The collective knowledge of the human race is accessible at our fingertips. The internet facilitates instantaneous communication from one end of the Earth to the other with the push of a button. We can reach out to distant loved ones, collaborate with colleagues in other countries, and instantly access research and entertainment. There is no question that the internet as a whole has had a net positive effect on the world.
With the good must also come the bad. As positive an addition the internet is, people have obviously found ways to exploit the web for nefarious and illegal uses. Child pornography is among the most problematic issues present on the internet. Additionally, just as people can reach out to loved ones and friends easily across the internet, they can almost as easily contact people that don’t invite their contact. Unwanted contact, stalking, and the use of “revenge porn” can land people in front of the criminal justice system here in Florida. If you have been investigated for or charged with an internet based crime, you should contact a dedicated St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer immediately.Elements of Sexual Cyberharrasment
Unique among criminal statutes, the law criminalizing cyberharrassment first lays out the research done by the legislature and a mission statement laying out the importance of prosecuting such offenses. The cyberharrassment statute was enacted in response to the increased epidemic of “revenge porn” wherein people would post sexually explicit photos of those that they had a falling out with in order to inflict emotional distress. The statute explains that a person who shares a sexually explicit image with an intimate partner has a reasonable expectation that the image will remain private and will not be disseminated to unauthorized persons or be posted online. The statute also recognizes that once an image makes it onto the internet, it is unlikely that it will ever make it off. Whether you are the victim of this type of cyberharassment or have been charged with the commission of it, you should contact a dedicated St. Petersburg criminal lawyer to understand your next steps.
In order to prove a defendant guilty of the offense of sexual cyberharrassment, the prosecution must prove several elements beyond and to the exclusion of any reasonable doubt. First, the state must prove that the defendant acted with willful and malicious intent, and in doing so, published a sexually explicit image to a website or otherwise disseminated the image to another person. The state must prove that the victim had a reasonable expectation that the image would have remained private. A potential defense can be raised if the victim on the case originally disseminated the image to multiple people, negating the argument of expectation of privacy.
The prosecution must also prove that the images disseminated contained personal identification information. This information can include a name, email address, phone number, date of birth, or a unique physical characteristic. This element essentially means that if the person’s face is clearly visible in the image, that the image will meet the statutory threshold. A first conviction of this offense is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. However, subsequent conviction can be upgraded to more serious offenses. A person with a prior conviction can be charged with the third degree felony offense which can result in a sentence of up to five years imprisonment.Speak to our Lawyers Today
The attorneys at Hanlon Law have years of experience that we want to apply to your case. Don’t go it alone, contact us for a consultation today at 727-897-5413.