July 21, 2014

Teen in Virginia Sexting Case Accuses Authorities of Exploitation

In our last post, we introduced the story of a Manassas County, Virginia, teen accused of child pornography after he sent an explicit video to his 15-year-old girlfriend. As this strange case continues to unfold, numerous questions remain, including:

Was the act the 17-year-old committed really a crime if his girlfriend “precipitated” it with a “sext?”

Were the police within their rights to forcibly obtain a photo of the underage suspect’s erect penis?

Whose version of events is more accurate – that of the authorities, or that of the defense?

The complex circumstances surrounding this case may seem bizarre, but they are becoming more common as internet and smartphone users increasingly exchange explicit photos and videos. Recent cases have popped up all over the world in which individuals engage in virtual behaviors they may not realize are subject to cybercrime laws, including those regarding child pornography.

When using phones and computers to communicate, the best policy is to avoid any behavior that might be construed as illegal or become widely disseminated. Although individuals may believe a consensual relationship shields them from potential charges, complex laws govern the distribution of materials depicting nudity or sex acts. Protect yourself and your potential recipients from prosecution by refraining from sharing these images.

Similar to the teen in the Virginia sexting case, if you have been unfairly accused of a child pornography offense, you may feel mistreated and dehumanized by law enforcement officials. A Florida cybercrimes attorney with extensive knowledge of state and national laws can help you understand and assert your rights.

Cybercrimes lawyer David Seltzer has spent years working with defendants in complex cases regarding child pornography and other web-related charges. He works tirelessly to help clients wage strong defenses and avoid unwarranted punishments such as prison sentences, fines, and sex offender registration.

To set up your free consultation with Seltzer Law, contact us today at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333).

July 16, 2014

Bizarre Virginia Teenage Sexting Case Raises Questions about Police Behavior

Florida residents who face unfounded child pornography charges may sympathize with the case of a Virginia teenager whose recent arrest raised significant questions about the lengths to which law enforcement officials may go to obtain a conviction.

The story involves a young couple – a 15-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy – living in Virginia. The girl sent a “sext” to her boyfriend, to which he allegedly responded with an explicit video. When the girl’s mother discovered the video, she went to the police.

Manassas County police arrested the boy and took pictures of his genitals for evidence. His lawyer, Jessica Harben Foster, says Commonwealth Prince William County assistant attorney also pressured the boy to plead guilty. If he did not do so, Foster claims, police would have issued a warrant requiring the boy to provide a photo of his erect penis.

How would authorities accomplish such a task? According to Foster, the police would take the boy to the hospital, “give him a shot” to produce an erection, and obtain the photographs. The boy refused to plead guilty, and the court issued the search warrant.

Carlos Flores Laboy, the guardian of the accused, expressed outrage at the seeming hypocrisy of the Manassas County police. In their attempt to enforce a statute that protects children from sexual exploitation, Laboy asserts, law enforcement officials are engaging in exploitative behavior themselves.

The Commonwealth’s attorney, Paul Ebert, disputes the defense’s claims regarding how the police handled the case. Ongoing investigations and an upcoming court date will likely provide additional insight.

In our next post, we will discuss the precedent that exists for cases such as these, as well as their implications for individuals in consenting relationships.

Sexting, video messages, and other seemingly innocuous activities can spell trouble, regardless of whether the recipient is willing to receive them. If you are facing cybercrime charges in Florida, call Seltzer Law today at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) to begin your legal defense.

July 7, 2014

Columbus Medical Community Shocked by Pediatric Cancer Doctor’s Child Pornography Conviction

A once-renowned Columbus pediatric cancer physician will serve one year and one day in federal prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. Christopher Pelloski, 40, had been using his personal computer, as well as an Ohio State University laptop, to access videos and photos inappropriately depicting children.

Although Pelloski had been engaging in these activities since 2007, authorities did not apprehend him until last summer. Investigators located 85 images and 2 videos as evidence against the doctor, who admitted his crimes upon his arrest.

The case has caused significant turmoil within Pelloski’s family and within the Columbus medical community, in which Pelloski worked for years treating children with cancer. Although no evidence indicated he harmed any of his patients, he acknowledged the fear and pain his actions caused to these children and their families.

Pelloski has lost his license to practice medicine, but he hopes to work in clinical research and advocate against child pornography in the future. He must also pay $10,000 in fines, register as a sex offender, and remain under federal supervision for five years after leaving prison. His internet use will also be restricted.

In both Florida and Ohio, accessing or viewing online pornographic images of children represents a serious crime that can change lives forever. In addition to legal consequences, such as prison sentences and fines, convicted individuals often lose their jobs, families, and reputations.

If you have been falsely accused of cybercrimes related to child pornography, contact a Florida cybercrimes attorney as soon as possible to preserve your freedom and character. Cybercrime lawyer David Seltzer thoroughly understands the laws related to your case, and he can help you form a strong defense to get your life back.

Seltzer Law, P.A. is here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us today at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for your free legal consultation.

July 2, 2014

Catholic Priest Pleads Guilty to Possessing over 1500 Child Pornographic Images

If you face Florida cybercrime charges, like possession of child pornography or solicitation, you may feel pretty trapped and scared about your future.

Odds are, however, that your case will get far less media attention than the case of Father Stanislaus Hogan, a Jesuit priest over in the UK, who collected 1,555 child pornographic images in his room at Saint Ignatius' College in Adelaide.

All told, the children in these publications ranged in age from 16-years-old to 3-months-old, and the 69-year-old allegedly compiled this trove over decades. Some of videos and magazines dated all the way back to the 1970s.

At a sentencing hearing, Hogan “made clear his intention to apply to be released from his vows.” One case observer said that Hogan had struggled all his life to try to reconcile his sexual proclivities with his line of work. He also confessed to having problems with alcohol – which his psychologist said stemmed from his inability to process his sexual impulses.

Approximately 70% of the images in his collection did not involve sexual activity, although they did involve nudity. Some images and videos, however, were highly explicit. He’s due to be sentenced in August.

Hogan’s tragic story is, tragically, a common one. People who want to watch child pornography often don’t understand where their impulses come from and don’t know how to control them. With proper counseling and intervention, people can get a handle on these impulses and stop them from wrecking their lives or at least from doing more damage than they’ve already done.

If you or someone you love stands accused of these kinds of charges, a Florida cybercrime attorney with Seltzer Law, PA, can help you put together an effective defense. Call us now at 1 888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for a free consultation.

June 23, 2014

New Law Criminalizes Child Pornography in Japan: Part 2

In our last post, we detailed the new legislation passed in Japan, making the possession of child pornography illegal. The most recent in a series of gradual changes noted by cybercrime defense attorneys, the law illustrates a gradual and welcome transformation to a culture that has been historically permissive of child exploitation.

However, no law can change the behavior of an entire nation overnight, and many stakeholders remain who continue to advocate for sexual depictions of children in various forms. In addition, many potentially exploitative practices remain legal and leave the door open for potential predators to find gratification.

The Loopholes

For instance, animated child pornography sources such as anime, manga, and computer-simulated video games are not covered under the new law. Although regulations prohibiting the sale of such materials to minors have been more heavily enforced in recent years, adults may still produce and possess them.

According to publishers, illustrations of underage children engaging in sexual acts don’t exploit real children. Artists, they claim, have a right to “freedom of expression,” and banning animated child porn would infringe on those rights. However, proponents of these items fail to account for the possible consequences of keeping them on the market.

Another remaining source of child exploitation in Japan is “borderline child pornography,” which pictures young girls in skimpy outfits and striking suggestive poses. Referred to as “junior idol,” these books and DVDs are still legal and sold at bookstores and convenience stores nationwide.

The junior idol genre is part of a larger culture that sexualizes underage girls, including celebrities such as pop group AKB48. Members as young as 13 often engage in suggestive behavior in their videos and commercial appearances, and their song lyrics contain some sexually provocative content.

Will Change Occur?

Considering the remaining cultural challenges and limitations of the new law, implementation may take a long time. For the next year, those in possession of incriminating materials will receive a “grace period” to allow time for disposal. After that, tough evidence requirements to obtain a search warrant may continue to hinder enforcement.

However, any progress in the war against child pornography is good news, and we applaud Japan’s latest step towards eradicating the exploitation of their most vulnerable individuals.

If you are facing false accusations of child pornography related offenses, a Florida cybercrime defense attorney can help you clear your name. Contact us today at (888) 843-3333.

June 18, 2014

New Law Criminalizes Child Pornography in Japan: Part 1

On June 4, the House of Representatives in Tokyo passed much-awaited legislation making the possession of child pornography illegal. It may come as a shock to many readers that it took so long for the country to pass such a law, though cybercrime defense attorneys have been in the know on this fact for years. Japan has long held the dubious distinction of being the only developed country that hadn’t yet banned child porn.

Japan: A Different Attitude

To understand this phenomenon, one must account for cultural considerations. Japan has been historically tolerant towards recreational sexual exploitation of children, even more so than that of adults. A July 2012 arrest of four Kyoto men for purchasing kiddie porn was the first such occasion since World War II.

Creating anti-child pornography legislature presented many challenges and strong resistance from various parties. Because Japan produces and consumes more child pornography than any other country, it represents a significant part of the economy and culture for its creators and users. An estimated 10 percent of men own or watch child pornography, and 80 percent of internet child porn originates in Japan.

The fight against child pornography began in 1999, when creation and distribution were criminalized. It continued in Kyoto in October 2011, when a new ordinance created fines and possible jail time for offenders. Finally, the Liberal Democratic Party introduced the current bill, which will impose a million-yen fine or a year in prison for those caught possessing such materials.

Opposition to Needed Change

Opponents of the law included the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, as well as the anime and publishing industries – and, of course, the consumers themselves, who may not have been as willing to identify themselves. Although the new law does not eliminate materials such as manga, anime, and computer-generated images depicting children engaging in sexual acts, creators of such materials fear the legislation will lead to future restrictions on their activities.

The Future of Child Porn in Japan

The recently passed law is a significant step towards the complete eradication of child pornography in Japan. However, resistant populations and an entrenched culture of exploitation will likely present difficulties during its implementation. Our next post will discuss the remaining challenges facing Japanese anti-child pornography initiatives.

If you are facing false accusations of child pornography related offenses, a Florida cybercrime defense attorney can help you clear your name. Contact Seltzer Law today at (888) 843-3333.

June 9, 2014

Returning to “Life As Usual” After Fighting Back Against Florida Child Pornography or Solicitation Charges -- Part 2

As someone who stands falsely accused of a serious crime, like Florida child pornography or solicitation, you are desperate for help and also hungry for answers about what you can do to protect your rights.

In our last post, we discussed why so many defendants in desperate need often resist getting legal assistance (and other help) and how you can overcome that psychological resistance.

Once you have started the legal defense process, you may need to confront other painful realities. For instance, let’s say that your lawyer manages to get you acquitted of charges or allows you to plea to a lesser offense. In other words: you get your freedom back.

That should be considered a huge victory. But then you face huge obstacles in terms of rebooting your career, normalizing your relationships and rebuilding your future.

Let’s focus today on how to reestablish your career. First things first, if your employer won’t let you come back to work, you may not have much recourse. Even if you can return to work in some capacity, brace yourself for a challenging time with coworkers, bosses and even clients. Talk to your attorney about how to discuss your case with colleagues, so that you can provide the needed information about your legal background without having to cite line and verse about what happened to you in court.

You might even want to prepare and memorize a script to recite, whenever someone asks you about your arrest or your history… or perhaps about your time behind bars. This way, you can alleviate discomfort others may have around you and minimize the chances of people talking behind your back.

Alternatively, you might need to retool and/or find a new place to work, where people might be more respectful or at least understanding. Depending on what happened, you may or may not have to disclose your criminal history to any new employer.

In either case, appreciate that your journey might be long, arduous and filled with unpleasant surprises. To that end, try to find support not just at work but also in your personal life. Ask yourself:

• "Who in my life might offer empathy and good guidance?"
• "Can I find support groups in the area to discuss my feelings in a compassionate environment?"
• "Can I find a trustworthy therapist to assist me?"

Be discerning in your relationships. Some people may not have supported you, when you needed their help the most. Consider spending less time with those people and recruiting new and healthier relationships. It can be quite painful to see great relationships destroyed by lies for no reason. But sometimes relationships cannot be salvaged. Sometimes, it takes a long time for the healing process to begin.

No matter what tactics you try, the first step should be to connect with an experienced Florida cybercrime defense lawyer at Seltzer Law, PA. Call us immediately at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation with our team.

June 4, 2014

Returning to “Life As Usual” After Fighting Back Against Florida Child Pornography or Solicitation Charges -- Part 1

For the past several weeks and months, this blog has focused intensely on child pornography and solicitation defense. Why? We believe that these defendants are vastly underserved. There are almost no resources online (or elsewhere) to help them understand their problems.

Other criminal defendants enjoy a wealth of compassion from many sources. Even people charged with committing violent crimes, such as assault, rape and murder enjoy some degree of compassion from society. But people charged with certain computer pornography charges find themselves persona non grata. This almost universal lack of compassion is shameful.

Sure, many people find these charges viscerally offensive and disgusting. But why can't we have a more accurate, mindful conversation about what causes people to commit these crimes and what can be done for offenders, other than just punishing them brutally?

The situation can be brutal for people falsely accused of child pornography or cybercrime charges. Such accusations can torpedo careers, end relationships and lead to suicidal depression in the accused.

Bearing all that in mind, in today’s post and at least one that will follow, we are going to talk in depth about what someone falsely accused can do to repair damage to relationships, career and self-esteem. Today, we will address a fundamental issue – an issue that, if not solved, may make it difficult, if not impossible, for you to address the other more “downstream” problems. And that issue is this: if you wait too long to address your cybercrime charges -- to get legal assistance -- your defense can become much harder, maybe even impossible. Reasons people delay getting help can include:

• Fear of confronting the scary reality of potentially spending decades behind bars;
• Confusion about whom to trust and how to find an attorney who has a track record to assist and who will be willing to take the case;
• A lack of self-esteem and self-confidence precipitated (or in some cases even preceded) by the arrest that leads to a general sense of torpor;
• A lack of time and energy to pick up the phone caused by all the legal commotion.

Breaking out of this inertia is actually quite hard and requires no small amount of willpower. In some ways, it’s like melting ice. Before you can even raise the temperature of ice one degree, you first must overcome what is known as the “heat of enthalpy” -- this is the energy it takes to transform ice from solid state to liquid state. Likewise, before you can make progress on your case, you first need to overcome your resistance to getting legal assistance. We are here to help. Whenever you are ready, pick up the phone and call Seltzer Law, PA at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) to speak with us about your Florida cybercrime defense.

May 26, 2014

Has Someone You Love Been Arrested on Horrific Charges, Like Florida Child Pornography Or Solicitation? [What Can You Do?]

Maybe investigators just knocked at your door and arrested your husband on charges of internet pornography crime or solicitation. Or maybe you just received news that a close friend from high school or a family member has come under investigation for similarly disturbing cybercrimes.

Even though you love the person and care about him or her, you are also deeply disturbed by the allegations and confused about how to relate to the situation. Unfortunately, there are no simple answers. Right now, you may be riding conflicting emotions. On the one hand, you care about the person and want to believe the best. On the other hand, you may be so outraged or sickened by what has been alleged that you cannot access your more compassionate emotions.

First off, appreciate that you're taking time to think through and work through these feelings. Also, know that you are not the first person blindsided by these problems.

Before you have critical conversations with the person who stands accused, consider going through the following exercise, so that you can speak coherently and compassionately.

Rather than impulsively discussing the accusations with the friend or loved one, take time to collect your thoughts and think through how you want any conversation to proceed. Prepare for the conversation, almost like you might prepare for a job interview or for a pivotal conversation with a new client. Really think through:

• What could go wrong;
• What you could say that could cause hurt feelings;
• How you might react to revelations that the person tells you;
• How you need to be during the conversation. (For instance, you might want to make sure that you're rested, well fed and safe during the conversation.)
• After you talk with the person, schedule time with a therapist or close friend to discuss what happened, so you don’t have to process the events yourself.
• You might also want to record your thoughts in a journal – before, during, and after any key conversations.
• Think through the logistics of your household. For instance, if your husband might stay in jail indefinitely, while the accusations get sorted out, you may need to make alternative arrangements regarding child care, your work, etc.

Withhold judgment, and make sure that all the facts get heard. People accused of cybercrimes – particularly pornographic crimes – often wind up isolated, even from friends or family members. The allegations may be false, or the truth may be much less alarming than authorities have suggested. Withhold judgments for now, seek to understand and support your own needs (and the needs of your family), and get support.

Turn to the team here at Seltzer Law, PA, at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for 24 hour assistance with Florida cybercrime defense. Our team has the resources, experience and sensitivity to help you and your family get through this troubling time.

May 21, 2014

3 Lessons about Your Florida Pornography Case You Can Learn from the Movie “Don Jon”

Authorities recently arrested you on serious Florida child pornography charges or charges of solicitation. You're scrambling to figure out:

• What you can do to build your defense;
• How you can communicate your needs and concerns to friends and loved ones;
• How you can understand and control the root problem driving you to engage in compulsive, destructive behavior, so that, once you fix your legal problems, you can stay out of trouble.

In this post, we're going to take a look at these challenges through the lens of a recent indie movie, Jason Gordon Levitt’s “Don Jon.”

In the movie, Gordon, who wrote, acted and directed the script, plays a young “player” who struggles with a crippling addiction to internet pornography. His pornography habits tend towards the mainstream, but nevertheless they prove very problematic. For instance, they wreak major havoc on his budding relationship with a beautiful young woman, played by Scarlett Johansson. (Spoiler alert: at some point in the movie, Jon’s pornographic habit devastates the relationship.)

So what can this movie teach you about how to think about your situation?

Lesson No. 1: Compulsive internet pornographic habits are far more common than many people realize.

Not everyone uses pornography as compulsively as Gordon’s character in the movie does. But many people spend a lot of time and money online, using pornography, and these compulsive habits can lead to destruction of relationships, lost productivity, depression and sometimes even financial problems.

Lesson No. 2: You can’t expect other people to understand.

People arrested on Florida cybercrime or pornography charges often yearn for other people to understand that they are not “monsters” -- that they are struggling to control impulses that they don’t truly understand. They would appreciate some modicum of empathy from coworkers, family members and society. But they often don’t get that. This rejection leads them to feel more isolated. Here's the cold reality: many people in society just don’t understand the compulsion to use pornography and won’t even try to understand.

Lesson No. 3: Without help, you might never overcome your obstacles.

Another spoiler alert: when Gordon’s character finally has an epiphany about how to manage his pornography addiction, it doesn’t come from within -- he gets insight from another person who has deep understanding of his issues, and that insight helps him normalize his behavior.

To that end, rather than trying to struggle through your defense by yourself, get in touch with an experienced Florida cybercrime defense lawyer here at Seltzer Law, PA, at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) to understand your rights, obligations, and possible avenues to clear your name. Call or email now for a free consultation.

May 12, 2014

Two Disturbing Child Pornography Arrests: What Will Happen to These Men?

If you or someone you love has been arrested for Florida child pornography or solicitation charges, you may feel incredibly isolated and scared, not only because of the potential jail time and other punishments but also because of the humiliation and uncertainty.

It's useful not only to understand the law and your defense options but also to ground yourself in the realities of being a defendant. What will happen to you? What will happen to your job and your family? Etc.

To that end, let’s take a quick review of two big child pornography cases in the news recently. The first happened in Summerville, Massachusetts, where 5th grade teacher, Josh Wairi, was arrested on some very serious child pornography charges. The 27-year-old taught in public schools in Summerville as well as in nearby Cambridge. Per investigators, Wairi uploaded many videos and images of children being sexually exploited and then shared those videos with people via the web. He also allegedly admitted to investigators that he had videotaped children changing clothes in school locker rooms. He allegedly also had “hundreds” of images and videos on his computer.

Investigators' suspicions were aroused last July, when American Online (AOL) alerted investigators about suspected child pornography and his computer, and investigators linked to his IP address. After searching his apartment, they found “many photographs of children” as well as multiple computers, cameras, and a Disney themed shower curtain. He had also been advertising babysitting services on Craigslist.

Meanwhile, 29-year-old Robert Lamar Starling was arrested for producing and uploading child pornography on the web, according to U.S. attorney, A Lee Bentley, III. This Florida child pornography case is one of the biggest such busts of the year – Startling allegedly told authorities that he had made multiple pornographic videos with prepubescent children and that he had collected 7,000 such videos and 5,000 still images. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Columbia Sheriff’s Office, Suwannee County Sheriff’s office and the FBI all worked together on the investigation.

Both Wairi and Starling could face many years behind bars. Starling, for instance, could be locked away for over 30 years. The team here at Seltzer Law, PA is dedicated to providing a fair and ethical defense for people facing Florida cybercrime charges. Call us now at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE or (888-843-3333) for a confidential and free assessment of your case.

May 7, 2014

29-Year-Old Arrested for Florida Child Pornography Charges in St. Augustine – Hit with 20 Counts of Possession

Authorities recently arrested Joseph David Richardson on Florida child pornography charges, including 20 counts of possession of child pornography.

According to reports, the man has been linked with other crimes -- he also allegedly exposed himself to an 11-year-old girl in his neighborhood. Cybercrime detectives have been investigating and surveying Richardson for months.

According to ActionNews – a local Florida station – Richardson was convicted of criminal behavior in the past in his home state of Louisiana. In 2002, for instance, authorities arrested him and charged him with indecent behavior with a juvenile.

In January, an 11-year-old who missed the bus got a ride with a man in a silver SUV -- the car matches the description Richardson’s car. The girl alleges that the man committed a lewd act in front of her, before dropping her off in front of on at elementary school. Sgt. Catherine Payne told authorities: “we need help from the public to determine his location and state of mind at that time. Any clear information to help guide us on this investigation, we are looking for… we haven’t determined if this is a child abduction or kidnapping or anything. We need more information: this information could be information that ties him to the incident or clears his name."

In addition, police in Jacksonville Beach say that Richardson was implicated in a separate January 2013 incident, in which he allegedly exposed himself on First Street while riding a bike. At the time, there was not enough evidence to charge him, and his case was dismissed.

It’s easy to assume from the news report that Richardson is guilty and that he should be locked up. However, it’s vitally important to let due process play itself out.

Stories about cybercrimes and lewd conduct affect us vividly, so people often make snap judgments about who should be to blame and what the punishment should be. However, if you end up having to defend against such charges, you may struggle mightily against this inertia and prejudgment. It's hard not only to get a fair hearing in the media but also to get fair treatment even among friends, relatives and associates.

To begin to construct an effective, smart defense of your Florida cybercrime charges -- be they possession of pornography, fraud, hacking or other complex charges -- call the team here at Seltzer Law, PA today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333). We can provide a compassionate and fair assessment of your defense possibilities.