Computer Crimes for Lewd Exhibition

Over the years, prosecutions for computer sex crimes against children have increased dramatically. Prosecutions have increased because law enforcement officers are using elaborate sting operations to catch predators.

The fact that an undercover operative or law enforcement officer was involved in the detection and investigation of an offense is not typically a defense to this type of criminal charge.

Additionally, § 800.04(2), Fla. Stat. provides that neither victim’s lack of chastity nor the victim’s consent is a defense to the crime charged.

Under § 800.04(3), Fla. Stat., the defendant’s ignorance of the victim’s age or the victim’s misrepresentation of his or her age, or the defendant’s bona fide belief of the victim’s age is not a defense to using a computer for a lewd or lascivious exhibition.

Recent Case Results

On December 5, 2018, the jury returned a “not guilty” in a case pending before the Honorable Susan L. Barthle in Dade City, FL. The crime of Lewd and Lascivious Molestation is a first degree felony, punishable by life in prison (with a 25 year minimum mandatory prison sentence).

Instead of facing those penalties, our client was exonerated and walked out of the courthouse with us after the jury returned the “not guilty” verdict. Leslie M. Sammis was the lead attorney in the case.

Disclaimer: The facts of your case may differ from the facts discussed here. Not all case results are listed here. The case results discussed here are not necessarily representative of the results obtained in all cases. Each case is different and must be evaluated and handled on its own merit.

Attorney for Computer Sex Crimes in Tampa, FL

If you were arrested for the felony offense of Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition over a Computer Online Service, under Section 847.0135(5), Fla. Stat., then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

With offices in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County and New Port Richey in Pasco County, we fight cases throughout the greater Tampa Bay area.

We fight allegations of sexually motivated acts, including lewd and lascivious exhibition in the greater Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, and Polk County, FL.

Call 813-250-0500 today.

Elements of Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition over the Computer

Under § 847.0135(5), Fla. Stat., to prove the crime of Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition over a Computer Online Service, the prosecution must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant did one of the following acts:
    • intentionally masturbated;
    • intentionally exposed his or her genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner; or
    • committed a sexual act, sadomasochistic abuse, sexual bestiality, or simulation of any act involving sexual activity that did not involve actual physical or sexual contact with the victim;
  • The act was committed live over a computer on-line service, internet service, or local bulletin board service;
  • At the time of the offense, the victim was under the age of 16 years; or
  • The Defendant knew or should have known or had reason to believe that the transmission was viewed on a computer or television monitor by a victim in this state who was under the age of 16 years at the time of the offense.

Enhanced penalties apply if the defendant was 18 years of age or older at the time of the offense.

The standard jury instructions for LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS EXHIBITION OVER COMPUTER SERVICE can be found at 11.10(f) which are published online at the Florida Supreme Court website. The standard jury instruction for Computer Crimes of Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition were adopted in 2008 [998 So. 2d 1138] and amended in 2015.

Penalties for Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition Using a Computer

In Florida, the penalties for lewd and lascivious exhibition using a computer depend on whether the defendant was 18 years old or older at the time of the offense:

  • If the defendant was 18 years of age or older at the time of the offense, then the crime of lewd or lascivious exhibition using a computer is a felony of the second degree.
  • If the defendant was younger than 18 years of age at the time of the offense, then the crime is charged as a felony of the third degree.

Florida statutory scheme prohibiting computer crimes against children also holds the owner or operator of a computer service liable.

Misdemeanors Charges for the Owner of a Computer Services

Under Section 847.0135(6), it is unlawful for any owner or operator of a computer online service, Internet service, or local bulletin board service to knowingly to permit a subscriber to use the service to commit a violation of this section.

Any owner or operator of a computer service who violates this section can be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree which is punishable by a fine not exceeding $2,000.

Definitions under the Computer Crimes for Lewd Conduct Statute

The words “lewd” and “lascivious” mean the same thing – a wicked, lustful, unchaste, licentious, or sensual intent on the part of the person doing an act.

The term “sexual activity” means the oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; however, sexual activity does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose. See Lakey v. State, 113 So. 3d 90 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013). The definition of “an object” includes a finger.

“Sadomasochistic abuse” means flagellation or torture by or upon a person or animal, or the condition of being fettered, bound, or otherwise physically restrained, for the purpose of deriving sexual satisfaction, or satisfaction brought about as a result of sadistic violence, from inflicting harm on another or receiving such harm oneself.

“Sexual bestiality” means any sexual act, actual or simulated, between a person and an animal involving the sex organ of the one and the mouth, anus, or vagina of the other.

Jurisdiction for Computer Sex Crimes against Children

If you are charged with a computer sex crime, under Section 847.0135, keep in mind that you can be prosecuted in Florida for the crime even if you have never traveled to Florida if the child is located in Florida when the crime was committed.

In other words, using the computer to communicate with a child in Florida can subject you to prosecution for these types of computer crimes even if you have never physically been in the state.

Your home state might also be able to prosecute you for the crime. In fact, the prosecution of any person for an offense under Section 847.0135, does not prohibit prosecution of that person in this state or another jurisdiction for a violation of any law of this state, including a law providing for greater penalties than prescribed in this section or any other crime punishing the sexual performance or the sexual exploitation of children.

Sting Operations for Computer Sex Crimes in Florida

Many of Florida’s sex crime statutes plainly punish the defendant both if the victim is a child or is believed to be a child. For instance, § 847.0135(3)(a), Fla. Stat., the “Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Act” expressly criminalizes the use of a computer to solicit, or attempt to solicit, not only a child, but a person believed to be a child.

Likewise, § 847.0135(4), Fla. Stat., makes it a crime to travel to meet a child or a person believed to be a child for the illicit purposes outlined in the statute.

If you were charged with any type of sex crime involving lewd or lascivious behavior, child molestation, or exhibition over a computer service, then contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL. Our attorneys are experienced in representing both adults and juveniles charged with sexually motivated offenses.

We can begin your defense today. Call 813-250-0500.

This article was last updated on Friday, May 1, 2020.