Florida Sexting Laws and Legal Defense for Adults & Minors

With the explosion of Social Media, Florida has tried to keep up with technology in the protection of minors. It has long been a criminal offense to provide obscene (harmful) material to minors, whether by providing pornographic magazine, videos or anything handed or delivered via mail.

With the advent of technology, not only is it a crime to sext with minors, but this also includes the transmission of harmful material via any medium that contains any auditory, visual or sensual representation. Fla. Stat. §847.0133. A violation of this statute is a 3º Felony that is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and a fine not to exceed $5000.00. Once convicted, even though not considered a sex offender, nonetheless, a conviction will require continued monitoring and checking in with the Sheriff of the County in which you live.

Harmful or obscene material has long been any material that offensively depicts sexual conduct that appeals that an average person would feels applies to a prurient interest that lacks literary, artistic or scientific value. Fla. Stat. §847.011.

While these criminal definitions can seem archaic and not easily described, it is common for investigating police officers, and the prosecutors that handle these types of cases to review the transmitted material in a more simplistic common sense way. Would a parent want their child to receive this type of text, tweet, instant message, or snap chat message, particularly if this message was sent by an adult, caregiver, teacher, church member or some other person in a position of authority? If the authorities are reviewing this type of charge, and the answer is yes, then, they are likely to pursue the prosecution against the sender.

If you have either been arrested or even contacted by a police officer about something that you sent to a minor (under 18), then you should meet with a Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney before the authorities complete building a case against you.

The Tampa Criminal Defense Attorneys at Taracks & Associates have handled all types of cases involving allegations of providing harmful materials to minors. So call today for your Free Consultation at 813-281-2897, to discuss the allegations that you are currently facing.

Although psychologists, sociologists, and others who study maturity of generations believe that minors today are more mature than previous generations, a minor is still considered someone under the age of 18. Prosecutors will not consider the fact that the minor initiated the harmful conversation, that the minor has willing exchanged this type of materials with others previously, or that the minor isn’t the one who is complaining. Often it is the parent of the minor who is driving the desire to prosecute what their child has received.

While the above may not be formal defenses to these charges, when presented in the proper and with discretion, these factors can have a beneficial impact in the resolution of these sensitive cases. Often when we meet with the prosecutor who is investigating these types of charges, when we can present facts that will reduce the alarm that these allegations naturally bring, if a dismissal cannot be agreed to there are some lesser charges that can avoid the harsh penalties, as well as reduce the emotional toll that come with these situations.

Some of the options may include:

  1. A diversion program that can result in the dismissal of charges if certain conditions are met including:
    1. An evaluation by an approved psychologist,
    2. Community Service,
    3. Restriction of internet and Smartphone use,
    4. And other conditions that allow for the protection of those under 18.
  2. A lesser charge of:
    1. Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. Fla. Stat. §827.04(1), or even,
    2. Disorderly conduct. Fla. Stat. §877.03

If such a plea agreement is negotiated, and we are able to secure a withhold of adjudication, you will may be eligible to have your record of this circumstance be sealed.

These allegations can also be referred to as “sexting”, and can be particularly troublesome when the person who sends a photo or video depicting nudity is also a minor. Florida has now enacted a non-criminal offense for minors that send such an image or video.

A first offense of a minor for Sexting carries a mandatory juvenile court appearance, an $80 fine, and 8 hours of community service for a first offense. Since a second offense is a 1º Misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in the county jail, and the third or subsequent offense is a 3º Felony that carries up to 5 years in prison: it can be crucial to a minor’s future to retain an attorney for a first Sexting offense to protect the minor from subsequent Sexting potential charges.

So, if you or anyone you know is facing allegations of sending harmful material or of Sexting, your future depends on these allegations being handled properly. Please contact one of the Tampa Computer Transmission Attorneys at Taracks & Associates for your Free Consultation today at 813-281-2897.

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