Bill would add civil liability to penalties for child porn

Associated Press
Published February 20, 2008

TALLAHASSEE - People who distribute or download child pornography could soon face civil action on top of criminal charges.

Florida's attorney general announced a bill on Tuesday that would allow victims of child pornography in the state to sue the people who download and transmit their images for no less than $150,000 per photograph. That amount could be higher for people convicted of distribution.

"It's needed because many times we are getting minimal sentences in the child pornography area, dealing with the photographs," Attorney General Bill McCollum said. "And parents and children who are the victims of these kinds of crimes in these kinds of settings ought to be able to get civil relief from those who can afford it."

Similar legislation already exists at the federal level, but the proposed bill (SB 1442, HB 605) would make Florida the first state to allow victims of child pornography to sue when charges go through state courts. The legislation also would allow the attorney general's office to pursue the cases on behalf of the victims at their request.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, and Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami. It will be considered during the legislative session, which begins next month.