Sexual extortion, or “sextortion” for short, is a form of blackmail that involves the coerced exchange of explicit photos or videos for financial gain or other reasons. The crime has been more and more vigorously investigated and prosecuted in Florida. As sextortion cases surge, defense attorneys are playing an important role in protecting people from unfounded and ill-motivated charges.

In Florida, sextortion can violate multiple statutes. Florida Statutes 784.09 establish the crime of sexual cyberharassment, which means using electronic communication to transmit or distribute explicit photos or videos of another person without their consent. This is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. If the victim is a minor, the sentence escalates to a maximum of 15 years. Sextortion can also be prosecuted as a second-degree felony under Florida Statutes 836.05, the general extortion statute, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years.

Sextortion has gained traction in recent years due to the pervasiveness of online communication and the ease with which digital content can be manipulated and disseminated. It is easy to engage with other users through social media platforms or messaging apps and to lure people into sharing intimate material. Once compromising images or videos are obtained, they may be used for blackmail purposes by demanding hefty sums of money or under the threat of public exposure.

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has undoubtedly played a role in the proliferation of sextortion crimes. AI-powered tools have made it somewhat easy to create sophisticated fake profiles, identify potential victims and automate communication patterns. Additionally, AI can be employed to generate or manipulate explicit images.

When confronted with a sextortion case, a seasoned defense attorney will adopt a multi-faceted approach, considering several aspects. Carefully analyzing the digital evidence is important in identifying potential defenses, such as mistaken identity, entrapment and coercion. Additionally, exploring the alleged victims’ motives and background can shed light on their intentions and potential vulnerabilities. Forensic analysis of digital evidence can reveal telling details, such as the origin of the explicit material, the IP addresses involved and the timing of communications.

At The Law Offices of Tad A. Yates, P.A in Orlando, attorney Yates defends clients against sex crimes allegations, including sexual extortion. Attorney Yates is knowledgeable about the law and experienced in handling these cases. To schedule a consultation, call 407-608-7777 or contact the firm online.

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