Is It Illegal to Accidentally Download Child Pornography Due to Misrepresentation on Websites?

Popular pornographic websites have recently made headlines because of allegations of illegal content, including child pornography. The allegations resulted in credit card companies pulling their contracts and increased fear over content from unverified users. Visitors to the websites in question may also face charges for viewing or downloading illicit imagery of minors — but is it illegal if it was misrepresented, and can those who thought they were downloading legal videos be accused of a crime? A child pornography attorney in Tampa shares what you need to know if you are concerned about accusations of child pornography. 

Related: What To Do If You are Accused of Having Child Pornography

What Is Child Pornography?

Child pornography is both a state and federal crime and is one of the most serious crimes a person can face. As defined by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), child pornography means “any image depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct,” including photographs, videos, and computer files, among other forms of content involving a person under the age of 18 engaged in any form of sexual conduct. 

Florida Statute 827.071 defines sexual conduct as “actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, or sadomasochistic abuse; actual lewd exhibition of the genitals; actual physical contact with a person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if such person is a female, breast, with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of either party; or any act or conduct which constitutes sexual battery or simulates that sexual battery is being or will be committed.” Children photographed either nude or partially nude in a manner that doesn’t fit the definition of “sexual conduct” is not illegal. This type of content is referred to as “child erotica.” 

Related: Child Pornography Definitions and Prevention

Can You Face Trouble for the Accidental Download of Child Pornography?

Having only one photo on your computer that is deemed child pornography is a violation of the law. Photos, images, or videos that have been deleted from your computer may be recovered and used against you in a criminal case. But what if you thought you were downloading legal depictions of a consenting adult over the age of 18 only to later discover that it was a minor? 

This is more of a legal grey area. You must be able to prove that you were in pursuit of legal pornography. Further, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa to discuss the best strategy for defense, even if you feel you are innocent. 

Possession, distribution, transmission, or manufacturing of child pornography is a serious felony offense in Florida and possibly in our Federal Court System. Convictions on charges of possession of child pornography when you are in possession of fewer than 10 images is a third-degree felony, which is punishable up to 5 years in prison as well as fines not exceeding $5,000. If you are convicted of having more than 10 images, you could be charged with a second-degree felony with a possible sentence of up to 15 years in prison with fines of up to $10,000. Any person convicted of child pornography or related sex crimes charge like child molestation or statutory rape must also register in the Florida Sex Offender Database.

What to Do If Accused of Possessing Child Pornography

There are several defenses that a child pornography attorney in Tampa can mount to fight your case. A defense attorney can attempt to prove that:


  • You came into possession of child pornography while engaging in the legal pursuit of adult pornography.
  • Your computer was hacked, or another person came into possession of your computer.
  • The content found on your computer was not sexually explicit. Even if the minor was nude, he or she may not have been engaged in a sexual act.


If you have been accused of downloading or possessing child pornography, contact The Rickman Law Firm to discuss the best defense for your specific case. A free consultation with Anthony Rickman is just a phone call away.

For a free consultation with a criminal defense law firm in Tampa,please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.


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