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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27076
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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A male friend of mine thats 45 yrs old has been arrested on

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A male friend of mine that's 45 yrs old has been arrested on the following counts in Indian River County Florida. He claims the person he was communicating with stated she was 19 yrs. old. Upon his arrest he was informed he was communicating with a 14 yr. old female.
The charges are as follows: ct.1 Lewd Computer Solicitation of a child; cts. 2 & 3 Transmission of material harmful to minor by electronic equipment. I do not understand the law.
Please help me with what he might be facing as far as time. There was no contact. He does not have a criminal record either.

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.

Please use the reply tab below if you need further clarification or to follow up.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So if I am understanding correctly, if he thought he was communicating with a nineteen year old but he was informed at his arrest that he was in fact communicating with a fourteen year old. The court would have to prove he in fact was aware she was only fourteen. Don't misunderstand, in my book what he did is not right, but at the same time I don't believe he should be convicted of the charges if he wasn't made aware she was a minor. Sincere thanks.

Hi Sandra,

Yes, you've got it right. If he thought he was communicating with a 19 year old and never knew that he was not until he was arrested, the DA would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that at the time he was communicating with the 14 year old, he knew that she wasn't an adult in order to convict him of the charges.

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