Sexual cyber-harassment occurs when someone publishes sexually explicit pictures or videos of another person, lacking that person's agreement, in order to trigger that person to suffer significant emotional distress. If you are accused of sexual cyber-harassment, it is important to take the charges and the risk of a conviction seriously. You should retain a knowledgeable sex crime attorney to develop a strong strategy to fight the charges. At Hanlon Law, Tampa sexual cyber-harassment lawyer Will Hanlon is committed to advocating vigorously for his clients.Sexual Cyber-Harassment Under Section 784.049
Under Florida Statute section 784.049, someone who is shown in a sexually explicit photograph, video, or other image taken with their agreement reasonably expects that the picture will remain private. When a sexually graphic picture or video is published online, it can be easily duplicated and shared, which results in a permanent record of that person's private naked form or sexually explicit behavior.
To obtain a conviction for sexual cyber-harassment, the prosecution must show that there was willful and malicious sexual cyber-harassment in the form of publishing a sexually explicit image that includes or shows the depicted person's personal identification information without the depicted person's agreement for no legitimate purpose, and the defendant intended to cause substantial emotional distress to the person depicted. Each of these elements must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high standard.
Sexual cyber-harassment is a misdemeanor in the first degree. If convicted, you can be punished with one year in jail, one year of probation, and a fine of $1,000. In some cases, a judge can be persuaded to sentence someone convicted of sexual cyber-harassment to probation. However, you may also face one year in jail, so consulting a sexual cyber-harassment attorney in the Tampa area is a critical step to take to minimize the consequences.
If you have one earlier conviction for this crime, and the prosecution proves a second or subsequent charge of sexual cyber-harassment, the charge is a felony of the third degree. For this, you can be sentenced to a maximum of five years’ imprisonment, five years’ probation, as well as significant fines and a period of your car being impounded. If there is no basis for a downward departure, the court must sentence you to a minimum of 10 days in jail, although it can also sentence you to up to five years in prison.
Of importance, a law enforcement officer can arrest you for sexual cyber-harassment without a warrant, as long as they have probable cause to believe that you sexually cyber-harassed someone. However, a search warrant can be obtained for further investigations, such as investigations of your home or computer. In addition to criminal penalties, the alleged victim of the sexual cyber-harassment can sue in civil court to obtain an injunction and monetary damages.
Each case warrants a close examination to see which defenses may be available. For example, the statute makes it unlawful to publish a sexually explicit image that identifies the person who is depicted within the image. Therefore, if you did not identify the person who was depicted, you might have a solid defense of anonymity. Sometimes there is a legitimate purpose in publishing a sexually explicit image, such as art or investigation. Again, this would negate an element of the charge and may make it possible to defeat the charge. In some cases, the image may have been transmitted by text or through email, and it does not count as sexual cyber-harassment because it was not posted by you directly onto the Internet. In still other cases, it may be possible to defeat the charge by showing that the actions were not willful or malicious.Consult an Experienced Sexual Cyber-Harassment Lawyer in the Tampa Area
Charges of sexual cyber-harassment are serious. A criminal record can make it harder to get a job, find housing, or obtain a professional license. Generally, a criminal record is stigmatizing and can damage your social reputation. Will Hanlon is committed to protecting the rights of the accused and has represented criminal defendants since 1994. Call Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or use our online form to arrange an appointment to discuss your case with a Tampa sexual cyber-harassment attorney. Will Hanlon also can help people who need a domestic violence lawyer or assistance in fighting other types of criminal charges.