Florida Court Discusses Double Jeopardy in a Child Pornography Case

The United States Constitution affords criminal defendants numerous rights that are staunchly upheld. For example, under the Double Jeopardy clause, people can only be tried for a crime once; if the government cannot convict a defendant of an offense the first time, it does not get another shot. This does not mean that a person cannot be charged with multiple crimes related to the same incident, though, as demonstrated in a recent child pornography case in which a Florida court denied a defendant’s motion to dismiss his indictment on double jeopardy grounds. If you are faced with accusations that you committed a child pornography offense, it is advisable to contact a Sarasota sex crime defense attorney as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with soliciting for child pornography. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury found him guilty, based on the standard established by the controlling precedent in the Circuit. The court later overturned the ruling establishing the standard, and the defendant successfully moved for a judgment of acquittal. Concurrently, the government charged the defendant with attempting to produce child pornography. The second charge arose out of the same conduct as the first charge. Thus, the defendant moved to dismiss the new charge against him, arguing that he could not be tried for the same conduct twice under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution. The trial court denied his motion, and he appealed.

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution

If the same behavior violates two statutory provisions, the court conducting a double jeopardy analysis must first determine whether the legislature intended each violation to be charged as a separate offense. If the court cannot ascertain the congressional intent, it will apply the Blockburger test established by the Supreme Court.

In the subject case, as neither party identified anything that spoke to Congress’ intent to authorize separate punishments, the court conducted a Blockburger analysis. Under this test, where the same act constitutes a violation of two distinct laws, the government cannot impose cumulative punishments unless each provision requires proof of a fact not required for the other. In the subject case, after analyzing the statutory elements of each crime, the appellate court ultimately concluded that they both required proof of a fact that the other did not. As such, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Dedicated Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyer

Sex crimes carry significant penalties, and it is critical that anyone charged with such an offense retain an attorney that will help them understand and protect their rights. If you are accused of committing a sex crime, it is wise to speak to an attorney to evaluate what defenses you may be able to assert. The dedicated Sarasota criminal defense lawyers of Hanlon Law are well-versed in what it takes to obtain a favorable outcome in a sex crime case, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Hanlon Law via the online form or by calling 941-462-1789 to set up a meeting.

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