My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am an experienced criminal lawyer.
The Florida statue for Lewd Computer Solicitation of a Child
in Florida and for Transmission of Material harmful to a child
requries that the defendant know that he was communicating with and sending sexually explicit material to a child. I have linked you to the law.
If he was communicating with a minor for sexual purposes, the state of Florida can arrest him and it will be a matter for the trier of the facts -- judge or jury -- to decide based on the evidence whether your friend knew that he was communicating with a minor. As part of its case, the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your friend knew she was underaged. If it couldn't do this, your friend could not be convicted of these charges.
No actual in person contact is needed for these particular offenses and the fact that he and the complainant never met would not be helpful. The charges are serious and would require lifetime registration as a sex offender upon conviction, even upon a first arrest. He could face anything up to 5 years of prison and a $5,000 fine for these charges, which are both felonies of the third degree in Florida.
An offer of felony probation is possible on such a charge, though whether it's likely is a matter I cannot possibly say without knowing all that the prosecutor and your friend's lawyer knows. He may also have a case he might want to try. However, his maximum risk will be the 5 years mentioned above.
I hope he has a lawyer, as this is nothing that he should try to handle by himself. If he cannot afford one he should be able to get a public defender appointed.
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