Is Teen Sexting a Crime in Florida?

Is Teen Sexting a Crime in Florida?

The answer is yes, sexting between two minors is considered a crime in Florida. In 2011, the Florida legislature passed a law that specifically pertained to teen sexting. Children and teenagers under the age of 18 should have some understanding of this law and the penalties for violating it.

Prior to this law, minors caught sexting would be charged according to more severe Florida child pornography laws. While this is no longer the case, the consequences for minors who violate the current law can still be harsh with long-lasting effects for the offender. If a you are a parent or guardian of a minor cited for a sexting violation, seeking the legal counsel of an experienced Miami juvenile defense attorney is recommended.

What is Sexting and Teen Sexting?

Sexting is defined as people sharing nude or sexually explicit messages, typically photos or videos, through the use of electronic communication channels and devices such cell phones, the Internet, social media, and so on. Teen sexting occurs when the above behavior happens between two minors and the messages in question depict minors.

Under Florida sexting law, sexting between two consenting adults is not a criminal activity. However, teen sexting is considered a criminal offense. Minors commit the crime of sexting when they knowingly distribute, receive, possess, or create a nude or sexually explicit image or video of another minor.

If a minor receives an image or video depicting a minor in situations of nudity or sexual conduct, but they (i) did not solicit the image, (ii) did not distribute the image to another party, and (iii) took steps to report the image to a parent, guardian, school official, or law enforcement official, they are unlikely to be charged with violating the Florida sexting law.

What are the Penalties of Teen Sexting?

The consequences minors may face because of sexting vary in severity and depend on the specific circumstances of each case. Generally, punishments get harsher the more offenses a minor is charged with. Any images or videos transmitted or received within a 24 hour period are counted as one offense.

      • First Offense — Minor charged with non-criminal violation, could face a $60 fine, 8 hours of community service, and/or mandatory classes on the dangers of sexting.
      • Second Offense — Minor charged with first degree misdemeanor, could be faced with steeper fines, probation, and/or placement in a juvenile detention center.
      • Third Offense — Minor charged with third degree felony, could face a prison sentence of up to 15 years and may be required to register as a sex offender.

To learn more about the Florida sexting law and Florida child pornography laws as they pertain to juvenile defendants, speak with a seasoned Miami juvenile defense attorney. The attorneys at Pimentel & Castillo are experienced at defending juveniles from criminal charges, including sexting violations. If you are a parent or guardian of a minor that is facing teen sexting charges, call us today for a free consultation.

Consequences of Overstaying a Student Visa

Consequences of Overstaying a Student Visa

Overstaying one’s temporary U.S. visa is something immigration officials take very seriously. According to U.S. immigration law, a person who overstays their visa is residing in the country illegally and treated similarly to someone who entered the country illegally – it is a serious matter that should be avoided. However, for some student visa holders, the expiration of their allowed stay may not be as obvious. If you have already overstayed your visa, consult with a Miami immigration attorney to learn more about your options. Below, we will review the potential consequences of overstaying a student visa.

Authorized Period of Stay

Many are unaware that the expiration date on a visa is not what determines a nonimmigrant’s authorized period of stay, the date shown on the card is actually the last day that the card can be used to enter the U.S. The expiration for the stay is specified on the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record card or downloadable online document, given by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials to those who enter the U.S. If the visa holder stays beyond that date, they are guilty of overstaying.

However, nonimmigrants who enter on an F-1 or J-1 student visa are not given a specific date on their I-94 cards and online records. Instead, the I-94 will say, “D/S” which stands for Duration of Stay. Taking into account that the duration of many academic programs is not fixed, D/S allows for F-1 and J-1 students to stay until their studies program is complete and the grace period ends, assuming that the visa holder is fully compliant with the rules of the visa. If students stay past the allowed period and make no effort to apply for a Change of Status within a reasonable time, they are likely “Out-of-Status,” and therefore overstaying.

Consequences of Overstaying

The following are possible consequences of overstaying a student visa.

    • Existing visa is automatically voided and can no longer be used to enter the U.S.
    • Restricted from applying for an Extension of Stay or Change of Status
    • Cannot obtain another visa at any U.S. consulate outside of country of nationality
    • Barred from re-entering the U.S. for three to ten years if “unlawful presence” accrued

Unlawful Presence and Time Bars

One of the harshest consequences of overstaying a student visa is a time bar. Those guilty of overstaying are only subject to time bars if they are deemed inadmissible for accruing “unlawful presence,” meaning they overstayed for more than 180 days. For M-1 students, it is easy to determine whether unlawful presence has occurred because the accrual to time starts after the specific “Out-of-Status” date in their I-94.

On the other hand, F-1 and J-1 students can only be guilty of unlawful presence if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or a related government authority formally determines they were residing in the country unlawfully. Only after that official determination is made does the counting off of days start for F-1 and J-1 students. Thus, F-1 and J-1 student visa holders are rarely subject to any of the two types of time bars.

        1. Three-Year Time Bar — Unlawful presence of more than 180 days but less than one year.
        2. Ten-Year Time Bar — Unlawful presence of more than one year.

The best course of action for nonimmigrants should be to avoid overstaying a student visa. However, if you or a loved one has overstayed a temporary U.S. visa, consult with a knowledgeable Miami immigration attorney.

Out team of U.S. immigration law professionals is experienced at defending our clients from deportation as well as having grounds of inadmissibility waived. Call Pimentel & Castillo today for a free consultation.

Medical Marijuana in Florida is Legally Available

Medical Marijuana in Florida is Legally Available

On Election Day, Floridians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Amendment 2 which legalized access to medical marijuana for people with certain conditions. The constitutional amendment was put into effect on January 2017. Now, certain people can obtain medical marijuana in Florida, but the requirements are strict and the process is not simple. People interested in legally purchasing marijuana should consult with a Miami criminal defense attorney knowledgable with Florida marijuana laws which are briefly explained below.

Qualifying for Medical Marijuana in Florida

Under Amendment 2, patients can legally possess and use medical marijuana to treat one of the following “debilitating medical conditions.”

      • cancer
      • epilepsy
      • glaucoma
      • positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
      • acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
      • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
      • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
      • Crohn’s disease
      • Parkinson’s disease
      • multiple sclerosis (MS)
      • other debilitating medical conditions similar to those above and that a qualified physician recommends being treated with medical marijuana

There are other requirements patients must fulfill to be eligible for treatment using medical marijuana in Florida, including the following.

      • Must be a Florida resident.
      • Diagnosed by their qualified ordering physician with a qualifying condition.
      • Treated by said physician for at least 3 months immediately prior to an order of medical marijuana being placed.
      • Registered with the Compassionate Use Registry by the ordering physician.
      • Must have valid Compassionate Use Registry identification card.
      • If under 18, must have an additional recommendation from a second physician.
      • Tried other treatments without success.
      • Risk of using marijuana was determined to be reasonable by the ordering physician.

It is the responsibility of a qualified physician authorized to order marijuana (either low-THC cannabis or medical cannabis) to follow Florida marijuana laws, diagnose patients properly, and decide whether to recommend medical marijuana as the most suitable treatment.

Ordering physicians can order up to a 45-day supply of medical marijuana and one cannabis delivery device for their qualifying patients. With a valid Compassionate Use Registry identification card (which needs to be renewed annually), a patient or their legal representative can then contact a licensed dispensing organization to have the order filled.

Once the patient has the medical marijuana, they must follow certain rules and restrictions concerning use, including where it can be used or administered.

If you are considering legally obtaining medical marijuana to treat your debilitating ailments, consult with a Miami criminal defense attorney to become more familiar with Florida marijuana laws. A legal professional can help you avoid to criminal liability and strongly defend your rights in the event that you are charged with a drug offense.

Call Pimentel & Castillo to request a free consultation with an experienced Miami criminal defense attorney today.

What the Law Says About Boating & Drinking

What the Law Says About Boating & Drinking

South Florida is one of the best locations to take a boat out on the water, and because of that, it is all the more important that Floridians be knowledgeable about the state’s laws related to boating. Considering boats are often a venue in which people consume alcoholic beverages, being informed about the laws concerning boating while intoxicated is of the utmost importance.

What happens when a boater is pulled over?

First and foremost, it is important to understand that the police force that oversees the waters is different from the one that patrols the land. These officers abide by different rules, but should not be taken any less seriously. When an officer signals for a boater to stop, the boater is required to do so. They may ask that the engine simply be cut or an anchor be dropped. Once stopped, the officer will board the boat, at which point those on board will need to keep their hands visible, provide all necessary documentation, permit to a safety inspection, and obey the officer’s commands. The vessel will be searched if given probable cause to.

If there has been drinking, the officer may request that the captain take a breathalyzer test. While this request can be denied, doing so may result in a fine of $500 for the operator, or even a criminal misdemeanor if the boater has refused in the past. If the aforementioned fine is not paid, the vessel may later be taken by the Coast Guard. Assuming the boater does take the breathalyzer and is determined to be intoxicated (above 0.8% in Florida), legal actions will be taken.

BUI in Florida

A charge for boating while intoxicated (commonly referred to as a BUI) will require the help of a proven Miami criminal defense attorney. Otherwise, the boater is likely to face unfavorable judgments, ranging from a $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail for a first-time conviction and a third-degree felony for a fourth offense. While a first offense will not typically affect one’s driving privileges, it is possible that this information may be shared with the authorities responsible for suspending drivers licenses, who may elect to do just that. In order to protect one’s rights and secure the most favorable outcome in this situation, the guidance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer will be essential.

Are you facing a BUI charge? Contact a Miami criminal defense attorney experienced in handling cases concerning BUI in Florida. Our lawyers are always available to answer any questions you may have.