August 5, 2011
Miami, FL Child Pornography Defense Attorneys Whittel & Melton :: Former Miami-Dade Co. Elementary School Teacher Asks Judge to Dismiss Charges
Child pornography cases can include fact patterns where the defendant does not knowingly possess the alleged material. Many times the material is stored in a temporary or special folder on a computer unbeknownst to them, which could result in their arrest for possession of child porn. The question is whether this unintentional “possession” can be classified as a crime, which is somewhat unclear on the state level. The passage of the “Walk in Their Shoes Act” specifies that it is unlawful for anyone to view child porn deliberately in the state of Florida. The judge’s ruling on this case will be paramount for others charged with possession of child pornography prior to the act being passed into law.
The Miami Herald is reporting that a 50-year-old former elementary school teacher charged with eight felony counts of possession of child pornography will appear in front of a Miami-Dade Circuit Judge on Aug. 10 in hopes of getting his case dismissed on account of a new law that was passed in July that forbids the “intentional” viewing of child porn.
According to authorities, the man allegedly searched and viewed child porn in a University of Miami computer lab in 2006. His alleged actions were supposedly caught on video surveillance and by a school employee monitoring the lab.
The man’s defense attorneys said the man never actually downloaded or printed any explicit images and argue that the Florida Legislature banned the “intentional” viewing of kiddie porn just this year, which should not apply to the man charged with possession of child porn five years prior to the law being changed.
Miami-Dade prosecutors seem to have a different opinion on the matter arguing that the man did partake in illegal behavior by exercising control over the images when he supposedly perused child pornography web sites and associated links.
According to a police report, the man was working as a substitute teacher for Miami-Dade at the time of his arrest and evidently requested to only be stationed at elementary schools.
The man is a former Harvard-educated corporate lawyer who earned his master’s degree in elementary education from UM in 2004.
The man allegedly started using the computer lab more than a year after he graduated, which supposedly caught the attention of a lab technician who claims the man used a private room within the lab. The technician apparently used a computer program to see what the man was viewing on the computer and allegedly found the man conducting Google searches for underage topless females.
The Coral Gables police were notified after the technician supposedly captured screen shots of the man’s computer screen and reported the findings to his supervisor.
Hidden video surveillance was set up in the room by detectives and allegedly caught the man on camera visiting child porn web sites.
The man supposedly told police during questioning that he was only a fan of erotic art and clicked on the photos out of curiosity. Searches of the man’s personal computer and home revealed no child pornography.
Florida Legislature passed the “Walk in Their Shoes Act” earlier this year to change the current language of the state’s 1983 child porn law to specify it is illegal to “intentionally” view compromising photos of children.
Despite the nature of the child porn charges, those accused should always consult with an aggressive Florida Sex Crimes Defense Attorney right away. This man’s lawyers may have found a loophole in the State’s case that could result in all charges being dropped. It is important to note that the Fourth District Court of Appeals has observed that passively viewing child porn does not constitute criminal activity. However, deleting files that are stored in a temporary folder could be challenged as knowingly and intentionally viewing child pornography. The burden of proof lies in the hands of the prosecution.
If you have been charged with child pornography in Miami, Miami-Dade County or throughout the state of Florida, contact the Florida Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton online or dial us toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).