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What Happens After Paroline? Implications for Florida Cybercrime Law in the Wake of Paroline V. United States

This Florida cybercrime blog recently reported on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the case of Paroline v. United States.

SCOTUS nixed a lower court’s decision to award a victim of child pornography $3.4 million in restitution from a man who used that pornography. The Court said, in effect, that Paroline should be compelled to pay some restitution but that the restitution should be in line with his role in the crime. It affirmed elements of the Violence Against Women Act by saying that victims of child pornography should be entitled to restitution, but it will help redefine how to set those limits.

Here's how Justice Anthony Kennedy reasoned: “it makes sense to spread the payment among a larger number of offenders in amounts more closely in proportion to their respective causal roles in their own circumstance… This should serve the twin goals of helping the victim achieve eventual restitution of all her child pornography losses and impressing offenders with the fact that child pornography crimes, even simple possession, affect real victims."

Victims’ rights advocates reacted with disappointment to the Court’s ruling. Writing in The Hill, Grier Weeks, the Executive Director the National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT), suggested several fixes to the law to ensure more equitable solutions. Weeks agrees with other advocates that what needs to be fixed is Section 2259, saying “this is certainly the place to start. If anyone deserves the right to go into a courtroom and demand restitution… victims of child pornography [do]… [this is] a human rights crime that is inflicted every hour every day… [and we] need a law that works.”

According to Weeks, “Congress simply going back and rewriting the existing statute is… not a viable route for the vast majority of victims. Plaintiff’s attorneys report that fewer than a dozen victims have attempted to seek restitution under the law in recent years, despite the fact that tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of Americans have been victimized by child pornographers and their 'customers.'"

He suggests creating a special child pornography compensation fund by levying fines on all people convicted of child pornography crimes. Justice Sonia Sotomayor tossed out the idea of a “statutorily imposed $150,000 minimum civil remedy,” the proceeds of which would go to a fund like this.

Weeks also wants stronger asset forfeiture, suggesting that prosecutors already think about asset forfeiture when dealing with drug crimes, but not with child pornography.

Obviously, Weeks is to be admired for his passion and admirable goal of ensuring the fair compensation of victims. However, it’s important not simply to approach prevention and restitution from a punitive mindset.

WHY do people commit such crimes in the first place? What can be done to make these people into better citizens? How can we ensure a fair defense process and that authorities don’t rush to judgment? There have to be better solutions.

If you or someone you love was recently arrested on Florida cybercrime charges, like child pornography or solicitation, call Seltzer Mayberg, LLC team today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for a clear and thorough evaluation of your defense options.

Categories: Cyber Crimes
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