Intent is an element of several criminal offenses. In other words, in order to achieve a conviction, the prosecution must show that the defendant possessed a certain mental state at the time the alleged acts were committed. It may be difficult for the prosecution to prove intent in cases involving the use of file sharing technology, though. A Florida court recently outlined what evidence is adequate to show that a defendant charged with distributing child pornography via a file sharing application had actual or constructive knowledge that he was committing a crime. If you’ve been charged with a sex crime against children, you should speak with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney about your options.
The Alleged offense
It is reported that an undercover agent who was investigating people suspected of distributing child pornography, communicated with the defendant’s computer via a computer at a remote location. He subsequently installed an application on the defendant’s computer, which granted them access to share files. The agent was able to obtain multiple videos containing child pornography from the defendant’s computer on two occasions.
Allegedly, the state charged the defendant with using an electronic device to transmit child pornography. During the trial, he argued that he should be acquitted, on the basis that the prosecution had failed to prove that he had deliberately disseminated pornography. He was convicted and sentenced to eleven months in prison and three years on probation. He filed an appeal, claiming the trial court erred in refusing his petition for acquittal.
Proving Criminal Intent
A court considering the sufficiency of the proof offered by the State at trial, will evaluate the evidence in the favor of the State and determine whether a logical trier of fact could have found each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. To support a verdict, the State must offer significant and competent evidence, with evidentiary conflicts and reasonable inferences drawn from that evidence resolved in the verdict’s favor.
Under the applicable statute, anyone that knew or should have known that they sent or received child pornography to another party commits a felony of the third degree. The act of sending and receiving data, information, or images from one person or location to another is known as transmission. The State can establish transmission by demonstrating that the defendant created a folder and explicitly granted others access to its contents, as it is fairly foreseeable that the photos in the folder will be accessed and downloaded.
The software employed by the defendant in this instance did not require him to provide access to each individual who wanted to use the folder, but the evidence showed that everything transferred into the folder would be shared with others as long as the computer was turned on. As a result, the court determined that the evidence was adequate to establish that the defendant knew or should have known he was disseminating child pornography, and his conviction was upheld.
Speak to a Knowledgeable Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
A conviction for distributing child pornography can have long-term consequences, and anyone facing such allegations should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The trusted Sarasota criminal defense lawyers of Hanlon Law can advise you of your rights and help you to seek a favorable result. You can contact Hanlon Law via the online form or by calling at 941-462-1789 to set up a meeting.