Criminal penalties increased for cyberstalking, child porn.

New legislation signed into law today by the governor increases the penalties for people who stalk others in cyberspace. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

FORT MYERS – Taking aim at video voyeurs and those who stalk the victims through the Internet, Gov. Rick Scott today signed into law several new bills aimed at strengthening protections for the victims of sexual and domestic violence.
The new legislation increases the penalties for numerous sexual crimes, including posseession of child pornography and cyberstalking, in an effort to ensure that Florida laws don’t fall behind what advanced technology can allow a sexual predator to do to their victims.
One of the measures also imposes a severe penalty on those who know about incidents of child abuse, and fail to report it.
The governor traveled to Fort Myers today, for a bill signing ceremony where he was joined by law enforcement officers at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
While citing a drop in Florida’s crime rate in the past year, the governor said the new protections were needed to ensure that people targeted by sexual predators have the full protection of the law.
“We are fortunate that Florida has experienced a 41-year low crime rate, but we must continue to provide our law enforcement officers with the tools they need to keep our communities safe,” the governor said. “This legislation will protect the rights of individuals affected by crime, and help make Florida a safer place.”
One of the bills signed into law today was House Bill 437, known as the Protect Our Children Act of 2012, which increases the penalty for anyone with sexually graphic photographs of minors.
The bill calls for more severe sentencing for possession of child pornography. If a person knowingly has photographs that show sexual conduct by more than one child, then each child depicted in those photos would now be viewed as a separate criminal offense, allowing prosecutors to charge the person with the photos multiple times.
The bill also targets so-called “video voyeurism,” or situations where someone illegally videotapes another person without their knowledge or consent, using a hidden camera. If the individual arrested for video voyeurism already has a prior conviction, the second offense requires that the defendant would now be classified as a sexual predator.
House Bill 1099, also signed by the governor, expands current anti-stalking laws to include cyberstalking, or stalking an individual online by means of a site like Facebook. The bill eliminates from state law the need for victims to prove that the person stalking them intended to carry out a threat made online, or cause them physical harm.
It also establishes protections for stalking and cyberstalking similar to those provided for domestic violence victims, by requiring the court to prohibit contact between the defendant and the victim for up to 10 years. It also increases the penalties for violating an injunction by up to one year in a county jail and a $1,000 fine.
House Bill 1193, which also became law today, creates a special exemption from public records for the personal contact information of any crime victim who has sought an injunction for protection against domestic violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence.
This exemption, the governor said, will help protect victims of violence from their abusers.
The final piece of legislation, House Bill 1355, increases penalties for those who are aware of instances of child abuse, but choose not to report it. As an example, the governor’s office noted that schools and universities could now be fined up to $1 million for failing to report any instances of child abuse that come to their attention.
The bill also increases funding to be used by the Florida Department of Children and Families for the Florida Abuse Hotline, and provides more money to the Attorney General’s Office to expand the scope of victims eligible to receive relocation assistance. Now, victims of sexual battery would be eligible for that relocation money.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply