January 28, 2015

Psychologist, Lisa Damour, on Talking About Pornography with Teenagers

Teens who aren’t taught about the ramifications of viewing certain kinds of pornography can get themselves in serious trouble that even an experienced Florida sex crime defense attorney can’t easily untangle. As a parent, you can take preemptive action to avert catastrophy. The simple act of talking to your teen can prevent him or her from committing an actionable online offense.

Psychologist Lisa Damour helps parents manage the complex and often embarrassing task of discussing pornography with their teens. She points that that while pornography fulfills fantasies, the pornographic community can be exploitative and dark.

Pornography has been at the center of sexual health debates for some time now. Some therapists warn that future generations may have a difficult time reconciling sexuality and emotional connections because of the vicarious nature of pornography. However, since the onset of widespread image and video pornography, teenage pregnancy has plummeted. The number of sexual partners reported by the average teenager has also fallen. Finally, the number of virgins graduating from high school has increased. Is it a cause and effect relationship or merely a correlation?

Every parent must make important decisions to safeguard a child’s wellbeing, including informing him about sexual health, boundaries, and appropriate online behavior.

How can we, as parents, do a better job of discussing pornography with teens?

Talking openly about what content is normal and what is considered too graphic encourages positive decision making and lowers the chance of extreme content exposure. A parent can offer guidance, but should avoid imposing strict measures regarding a teen’s sexuality.

It is not wise to ignore the need for communication because of awkwardness. Admitting the fact that the discussion is awkward for both child and parent may provide common ground for the conversation. Remember that an awkward conversation today could prevent detrimental consequences in the future.

Call a Miami cybercrime defense attorney with Seltzer Law, P.A. at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) to get effective, compassionate assistance with your challenging and scary charges. We’re available for consultations 24/7.

January 19, 2015

Prince Andrew Faces Sex Offender Allegations: Tied to Disgraced Financier, Jeffrey Epstein

Allegations of sexual abuse involving minors can torch careers, destroy reputations and lead to jail time and other horrendous punishments… even if you’re a privileged Prince.

To wit, consider that the Duke of York, Prince Andrew of England, faces a public relations nightmare (and potential legal morass) thanks to his affiliation with Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy but disgraced financier from New York. Epstein palled around with notables like President Bill Clinton and Donald Trump prior to his arrest in 2006 on sex crime charges and other offenses.

Reports suggest that Prince Andrew had frequented Epstein’s home during the last decade and potentially received massages and sexual favors from women who had frequented Epstein’s estate. A lawsuit filed in Southern District of Florida in 2008 for $15 million alleged that the financier had developed “a sexual preference and obsession for underage minor girls… [he] gained access to primarily economically disadvantaged minor girls in his home and sexually assaulted these girls.”

One girl in particular – known to the world now as ‘Jane Doe #3’ – allegedly had been sexually involved with the Duke of York on a Caribbean Island orgy. Per a court document: “Epstein instructed Jane Doe #3 that she was to give the Prince whatever he demanded and required Jane Doe #3 to report back to him on the details of the sexual abuse.” This so-called “sex slave” allegedly spent time with the Duke of York between 1999 and 2002.

In 2011, Epstein spent 13 months in prison for procuring prostitutes. After being released in 2011, Epstein spent time with Prince Andrew in New York’s Central Park. Paparazzi clipped pictures of the two of them together, leading the Daily Telegraph (one of England’s biggest newspapers) to write “What Was the Duke of York Thinking?”

Whether or not the allegations against Prince Andrews stand up to scrutiny, the story has a powerful moral: accusations (true or not or somewhere in between) of sexual misconduct with minors can ruin lives, lead to widespread disgrace and create years of persistent legal trouble.

If you or someone you know needs help defending against Florida sex crime charges, call the team here at Seltzer Law, PA, at 1-888-THE DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) for a free consultation.

January 14, 2015

Victims Sue Lottery-Winning Florida Sex Offender, After He Wins $3 Million

Timothy Poole, a convicted Florida sex offender, made international headlines in December after he won a $3 million prize in the Florida scratch-off lottery. Now the two victims of Poole’s abuse – who were 9-years-old and 5-years-old back in 1996, when the abuse occurred – are suing the lottery winner for a share of the $2.2 million that he’ll be taking home as part of his lump-sum payment arrangement.

The Florida lottery immediately took Poole’s picture off their website when the agency discovered his criminal history (he pled guilty in 2001, served 3 years in jail, and now works at a taxi cab company), saying, “we chose not to draw additional attention to this particular winner.” Even though Poole accepted a plea deal, he has maintained his innocence in the case.

Florida has no statute of limitations barring actions victims of sexual assault and battery (under the age of 16) from suing their assailants for damages. Per Jason Recksiedler and Mark NeJame’s attorney: “we are not attempting to get [Poole] any additional prison time… he has served his time to society, but he has not served his dues for the alleged massive damage caused to these children.”

Poole had been forced to register as a sex offender, but WKMG reports that he skipped out of several sessions of his mandatory counseling program. The two young men hope to freeze Poole’s fortune before he can “squander, hide, or otherwise dispose of assets.”

The story has gained incredible amounts of attention, not just here in Florida but also across the country, because so many people hold sex offenders in low esteem. It galls their conscience to learn that someone accused of sex crimes might actually come into good fortune. This sentiment -- at the heart of the story -- illustrates that offenders need to do a tremendous amount of work just to obtain fair treatment.

Fortunately, you can get excellent counsel here at Seltzer Law, PA. Call us for adept, insightful and compassionate legal help now at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) for a free consultation with a cybercrime defense lawyer.

January 5, 2015

Viewing Child Pornography on the Internet Is Now Legal in New York [For Real]

As someone who stands accused of violating federal or Florida sex crime laws for viewing or possessing child pornography – or as a friend or family member of someone who stands accused – you may be appalled and terrified by the potential punishments for the alleged offense. Penalties can include massive amounts of jail time as well as destruction of your personal reputation, fines and fees, and inclusion in sex offender registries.

A new ruling out of the New York Court of Appeals offers those accused (at least in New York state) a legal mechanism to avoid these awful punishments. Senior Judge, Carmen Ciparick, writing for majority, declared that: “The purposeful viewing of child pornography on the Internet is now legal in New York.” Judge Ciparick had been weighing in on the case of James D. Kent, a teacher at Marist College arrested in 2009 for possessing 100+ child pornographic images on his computer in the cache of his browser.

Professor Kent denied having intentionally downloaded those images; he brought his computer into a store when it began running slowly, due to what he believed had been “viruses.” Judge Ciparick and her colleagues in majority tried to determine whether the pornographic images downloaded to the browser’s cache indicated intent to “possess” said images. She wrote, “Merely viewing web images of child pornography does not, absent other proof, constitute either possession or procurement within the meaning of our penal law.”

Federal law doesn’t explicitly discuss browser caches. In the past, prosecutors have generally been unable to use just that browser cache evidence to procure convictions. Although it is illegal in New York (and in Florida) to “create, possess, distribute, or promote or facilitate child pornography,” Ciparick noted that “some affirmative act is required (printing, saving, downloading, etc.) to show that defendant in fact exercised dominion and control over the images that were on his screen… to hold otherwise, would extend the reach of [New York law] to areas that our legislature has not deemed criminal."

The general point is this: defendants who are innocent of serious computer crimes may be able to develop stiff and robust defenses. To facilitate your defense, contact the experienced federal sex crime defense attorneys here at Seltzer, PA at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) for a free consultation.

December 31, 2014

The Perils of an Undercover Sex Sting – Inside Florida’s “Operation Wrong Destination”

Fifteen men are headed to state prison in Raiford after being convicted of various Florida sex crimes thanks to Operation Wrong Destination, according to JacksonvilleNews.com. Operation Wrong Destination, a five-day undercover sting, took place in Green Grove Springs and allegedly uncovered that these men had been “traveling to meet a minor to do unlawful acts.” Prosecutors convicted the men of soliciting a child for sex acts and “unlawful use of a two-way communications device.”

Undercover detectives posed as children and advertised on Craigslist, asking to arrange meetings for sex acts. The fifteen men involved, one of whom was sentenced as a “youthful offender,” now face sentences ranging from “community control” to ten years in prison.

Many people charged with sex crimes stand falsely accused; these people may still have time to fight their charges. While our Miami cybercrime lawyers in no way condone the illegal use of pornography or solicitation, we want to protect people from false accusations, which can often occur in cases where the majority of evidence comes from undercover stings. Consider these facts about the dangers of undercover stings.

Stings May Not Provide Concrete Evidence

Evidence found in a sting may not be concrete enough to rightfully convict someone. This is particularly true in cybercrime cases, which hinge on deciphering and proving essential data regarding the downloading, watching, storing and sharing of electronic media.

By Their Nature, Stings are Setups

Undercover stings are set up to prove suspects are guilty. In many cases, the individuals caught in the dragnet are guilty of breaking the law, but sometimes a sting can backfire on an innocent person. Investigators can ask questions in ways that lead suspects to accidentally self-incriminate; they can also violate ethical rules (and even the law itself) to net arrests to meet quotas.

Stings Can Be Overly (and Even Illegally) Invasive

An innocent person can often defend against undercover sting related charges by citing privacy violations. If detectives violated search rules, unlawfully seized property or acted in a way that strayed from department protocol, you can challenge the case and get the charges dropped.

To protect your name, your freedom and your reputation, get in touch with a qualified Florida cybercrime defense attorney at Seltzer Law, P.A. immediately at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) for a free and confidential consultation.

December 22, 2014

A Different Illness: Why Cybercrime Defendants Often Don’t Get the Help They Need

Our Miami cybercrime attorneys want to spotlight a problem that's often ignored by the medical and criminal justice communities - the problem of how to help people who have compulsive and intrusive thoughts that could stimulate them to violate federal cybercrime laws.

Most people know how to prevent common illnesses - get vaccinations, go to the doctor, take medication, and rest. However, the majority of people don't know or believe mental illness is a sickness, as well. Mentally ill people are often unwilling or unable to get the help they need;; as a tragic result, some of these people commit crimes or wind up in situations where they're accused of crimes.

A Tragic Stabbing

Maria Garcia Pellon, ex-wife of former basketball star Matthew White, allegedly stabbed her husband after she caught him "watching porn." The alleged crime occurred on February 10, 2013, after Pellon discovered her husband watching pornography, "particularly child pornography."

Pellon's family and friends testified that the accused had a long history of mental illness. Beginning in 2001, Pellon received several psychiatric diagnoses including bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and paranoia. She also regularly claimed terrorists were after her, the government was spying on her, and the Chinese had hacked her phone. Pellon was hospitalized after a suicide attempt in 2007. Her attorney, Tom Bergstrom, took jurors "on a journey through mental illness" during her trial and questioned whether she knew what she did was wrong.

The judge in Maria Pellon's case did rule that she has "a mental disorder," causing many to wonder why she didn't obtain the help she needed. In fact, Maria Pellon did attend counseling and take medications, yet she continued exhibiting mentally unhealthy behaviors. Some of the reasons people like Pellon do not get the help they need include the following:

Stigma

Mentally ill people often don't get help because they don't want to be seen as "crazy." Accepting a diagnosis is particularly difficult for older people who grew up in eras that did not easily accept mental illness as illness, and instead brushed it off as "hysteria." Mentally ill people also often fear that their friends and family will hate them if they admit their struggles.

The Chemical Straitjacket

Dr. Phil McGraw of the Dr. Phil Show often refers to constant medicating as a "chemical straitjacket" in which pills are used to solve every conceivable problem. Medication has its place, but many mentally ill people wind up overmedicated, or they use medication absent any other modality, such as talk therapy. The side effects of certain medications can be unpleasant and can include metabolic problems as well as ancillary psychological issues.

Giving Up

Many mentally ill people might say something like, "I've tried to get help and it doesn't work." They then give up on treatment, and their illness worsens. However, if the person has the appropriate support, he or she can continue seeking effective treatment to get well and manage.

What can you do to respond to cybercrime charges? Call Seltzer Law, P.A. at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) to speak with an experienced Miami cybercrime defense lawyer about your options.

December 17, 2014

The Rest of the Story: What Most People Don’t Know about Pornography Investigations

Pornography cases are often seen in the media as “open and shut” propositions: if a person stands accused of a cybercrime, then he or she should be punished. Those accused of cybercrimes involving children are often maligned more than those accused of other crimes, because many people find such acts highly disturbing. However, the information made public in such cases may not be fully accurate or complete.

Even if a suspect did engage in wrongdoing, the charges may suggest a more serious crime than what actually occurred. Our Miami cybercrime law team has seen this happen frequently and would like to educate our readers about the complexities and nuances of these cases. To that end, let’s examine two recent news items.

North New Jersey Man Accused

According to the North Jersey News website, thirty-year-old Thomas Bachalis of Newark was arrested on December 4, 2014, and charged with distributing child pornography using his computer. Officers of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office searched Bachalis’ home in September 2013 and found “digital evidence depicting child sexual abuse, including material [involving] prepubescent minors.” Earlier searches conducted in August 2013 resulted in an officer downloading thirty-two pornographic images from an IP address connected to Bachalis’ residence. If convicted, Bachalis could face a minimum five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Northwest Georgia Man Accused

Pornography accusations also abound in northwest Georgia. Stephen Michael Hipple was recently sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for “aggravated sodomy,” possessing and distributing child pornography, and using a child younger than twelve to take pornographic photographs. Hipple sent and received at least one pornographic picture with his cell phone circa July 1, 2014.

What the Media Doesn’t Say

Unfortunately, news stories like these are often summarized as quickly as possible by the media, sometimes missing or omitting important details that could partially or completely exonerate the accused. Cybercrime investigations are often complicated for one or more of the following reasons:

• Lack of evidence. One or two pictures are generally not enough to convict someone of severe pornography charges, but a few pictures are often all that are cited on a complaint.

• Misinterpretation of evidence. This can occur when the suspect did in fact download pornography, but not as much as the charges suggest. It can also occur if the police enter more than one type of evidence – for example, if a search warrant specified only data from a computer but officers entered data from a phone into the case.

• Definition disagreements. What exactly constitutes child pornography and violations of Florida and federal cybercrime law? Arguments over these definitions can have profound ramifications for defendants.

Do you need help responding to federal cybercrime or solicitation charges? Call an experienced Miami cybercrimes attorney with Seltzer Law P.A. Today to schedule a free consultation. Call anytime at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333)

December 8, 2014

Federal Cybercrime Lawyer Reports on Two Divergent (But Equally Disturbing) Cases

Whether you stand accused of charges of soliciting a minor or violating federal cybercrimes law, you probably feel nervous about your future, scared about the legal implications and confused about how to protect your rights and reputation. You are not alone.

Every week, many men and women in the United States and beyond find themselves facing severe legal penalties for violating these laws. Today, we’re going to talk about two big stories along those lines in the news. The first concerns 58-year-old Phuc Kieu, a Vietnamese immigrant in Florida who allegedly tried to rob, assault and rape a 20-year-old male after Kieu viewed pornography in his vehicle. According to reports from the New York Daily News, Kieu had been hanging out in his Honda Civic, watching homosexual pornography on a portable DVD player, when he grabbed a 21-year-old male off the street, stole his backpack (which contained $220 in cash), and tried to sexually assault him. The young man eventually escaped and shouted “rapist!” and led police to arrest Kieu.

Meanwhile, in another disturbing case here in Florida, a man accused of “Nationwide Sextortion” faces a 105 year prison sentence. According to news reports, 31-year-old Lucas Chansler had been found with 80,000+ pornographic images on his computer. He allegedly targeted 350+ girls between 2007 and 2010. The St. John’s County man later pled guilty to nine counts of producing pornography -- each count came with a penalty of a $250,000 fine and 15 to 30 years in prison.

Chansler admitted to contacting girls in 26 states through various types of social media, including Facebook. He then pretended to be a younger male and enticed the women to share pornographic videos of themselves. He frequently sent images of a younger male masturbating to convince the girls that he was also young. Once in possession of these videos, he then extorted the girls (who typically ranged from 13 to 18 years old) and said that he would release the videos unless they provided more sexual images or videos for him. All told, authorities said Chansler took advantage of 103 victims who were under the age of legal consent.

The allegations against Chansler obviously are disturbing, but most people arrested and charged with sex crimes do not go to the length of extorting their victims. If you or someone you love faces similar or serious charges, please contact a Florida cybercrime defense lawyer with Seltzer Law, PA at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) for a confidential and free consultation.


December 3, 2014

UK Bans a Laundry List of Sexual Acts from Online Movies – Implications for Miami Cybercrime Defense

As any respectable federal cybercrime attorney can tell you, the line between what’s legal and illegal with respect to viewing online materials can be blurrier than many people realize.

In fact, both leading ethicists and attorneys frequently (and often hotly) debate where to draw the line between what people should be permitted to watch (with appropriate warnings) and what should be banned from the airways (and/or from the Internet). They also argue over when watchers (and intermediaries) should be punished for participating in the pornography production/viewing process.

In light of that, let’s a look at a peculiar government action that has stirred a vocal public debate over free speech. The UK’s Department of Culture, Media & Sports, (DCMS) just introduced new and stringent restrictions on what types of sexual acts can be included in online videos. Under the aegis of banning materials as “harmful to minors,” the DCMS banned the inclusion of 10 different sexual acts, including strangulation, aggressive whipping, and other acts to make the rules for online pornography identical to the rules currently in place that the UK has for hard copy DVD movies.

DCMS said the legislation "provides the same level of protection to the online world that exists on the high street in relation to the sale of physical DVDs… In a converging media world, these provisions must be coherent, and the BBFC classification regime is a tried and tested system of what content is regarded as harmful for minors.”

However, the DCMS move is not without its critics.

For instance, per the Independent (a UK newspaper), erotic film producer, Erika Lust, said “with this legislation, the UK is in danger of flinging itself back to an age where porn is simply the boring, unrealistic, male fantasy of bimbos eagerly pleasing men as if it’s their duty, where women are submissive and lack ownership of their sexuality. Women in the industry will now fear the loss of their livelihoods as well as their sexual independence.”

The point of bringing up this kerfuffle in the UK is that both the law and social mores regarding what constitutes cybercriminal activity can be rather grey. If you’ve found yourself on the wrong side of that law, you may need the assistance of an experienced Miami cybercrime lawyer to protect your freedom and ensure your rights. Call the team here at Seltzer, PA at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) right now. We are available 24/7 for a free and confidential consultation.

November 24, 2014

A More Humane Approach to Handling the Problem of Florida Sex Crime Recidivism

As we discussed in our last blog post, commissioners in the State of Florida have asked the Florida legislature to pass a law that would require all Florida sex criminals, past and present, to wear GPS devices indefinitely, so that law enforcement agencies could track their whereabouts.

The ultimate purpose of this proposal is noble. Who doesn’t want to prevent recidivists from harming children and other vulnerable individuals? However, the proposed legal ideas would not only obviously threaten the civil rights of people, but it could also create major costs for them and for the legal system.

Perhaps it would be better and more productive to have a discussion about the core issue: how can we prevent recidivism? The idea that handing out more penalties -- and more intense penalties -- will somehow prevent the problem of recidivism is probably pretty naive. After all, there are already tremendous disincentives for people to violate Florida cyber crime and sex crime laws, including incredible prison sentences.

As the inimitable Will Rogers once said, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

The fact is that punishing people with ever more draconian penalties is probably unlikely to move the needle in terms of what we all really want – to reduce recidivism. It makes a lot more sense to deal with the source of the problem – to better understand what exactly drives people to commit sex crimes again and again. With better science, we can formulate better therapies and legal tools to keep our society safe.

For instance, unfortunately, right now, people who commit sex crimes are considered persona non-grata by almost all of society. Many people tend to think of such offenders as innately “bad.” But if we understood what drives people to engage in these kinds of behaviors -- and had more honest conversations about the psychology of these crimes – perhaps we could make better strides.

Call the team here at Seltzer Law, P.A. 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for a free and confidential consultation about your potential Florida cyber crime defense options now.

November 19, 2014

Florida Legislature Urged to Vote on Bill That Would Require Lifetime GPS Monitoring For Florida Sex Crime Offenders

Florida county representatives have asked the Florida State Legislature to mandate that people convicted of sex offenses in Florida be forced to wear GPS monitors for life.

Even if you committed an offense years or decades ago – and you’ve been a model citizen ever since – the Miami-Dade Legislative Item File Number 142535 would still force you to wear a device. The motion was passed by a vote of 10 to 1, with two commissioners absent, and the official title says it all: “Resolution urging the Florida legislature to require sexual predators and sexual offenders to wear electronic monitoring devices for the remainder for the natural lives.”

The Board of County Commissioners worries about the high “recidivism rate” for people who’ve been convicted of sex crimes; they also cited the fact that a Florida Legislature-Office of Program Policy Analysis and Governmental Accountability report written in 2012 said that many sheriff’s offices struggled to find “sexual predators and sexual offenders… listed at transient residences.”

The members of the commission believe that better monitoring of these convicts could let police know instantly if someone violated the law and entered a park, school, nursery facility or other place where children congregate. They noted that similar types of laws have been passed in nearly dozen states, including California, Missouri, Maryland and Rhode Island.

The passion that the Board has for protecting the well-being of children is obviously understandable. We have strong needs to protect people who are young and vulnerable from those who would cause harm. On the other hand, this draconian proposal would create an incredible burden for people whose lives have already been thrown into chaos and whose movements are already under severe restriction.

Are such restrictions morally fair or even Constitutional?

What about the civil liberties of the men or women who would spend the rest of their lives monitored in this fashion? Rather than more punitive laws, why don’t we try to reduce recidivism by using more humane approaches, like providing better, more compassionate psychological care for people drawn to committing sex offences?

If you or someone you love is worried about your legal rights as a convicted (or accused) Florida cyber crime or sex offender, call Seltzer Law, P.A. at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) today for a confidential consultation.

November 10, 2014

Can Authorities Really Prove That You Engaged in Florida Cybercrime Activity?

Perhaps police arrested you on charges of possessing or distributing pornography in Florida after conducting a thorough investigation into your computer use. Or maybe police recently busted someone you love for allegedly soliciting a minor for sexual relations.

In either case, you understand the dire legal consequences of a conviction.

However, a key element of the American judicial system is that, in criminal cases, prosecutors must prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants in pornography cases can sow reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors by challenging evidence that the prosecution submits. In certain types of criminal cases, evidence presented is straight-forward and easy to understand. “This is the gun the suspect had.”

But when you’re dealing with evidence that’s less tangible -- such as electronic media, digital files, software, and computer code -- it can be a lot harder to establish what exactly happened, who did what, when, and how. For instance:

• Did you really illegally obtain an explicit digital photograph of an underage person?
• How can you be sure that authorities did not doctor images?
• What if you “accidentally” downloaded pornographic files to your computer without intending to… or without even knowing that pictures ended up on your hard drive?

Whether you’re computer savvy and you did commit a crime (or believe that you did)… or you’re the opposite of computer savvy and insist that you’re completely innocent of any criminal wrongdoing, you deserve intelligent counsel to help you navigate your next steps and make smart decisions. Call a qualified and experienced Florida cybercrime defense lawyer at Seltzer Law, PA, to speak with an attorney today about your defense options. We are available any time of day, 24/7, at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) to provide a free, completely confidential consultation about your rights.