Stephen Saftler was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for possession of child pornography charges. Based on the nature of the charges and the fact that he is accused of possessing more than 800 images of child pornography, Stephen Seftler’s bail bond was set at $100,000.
According to an unnamed criminal defense lawyer who represented Stephen Saftler during his bond hearing, Saftler has been a resident of Broward County for more than 20 years and has never been arrested before.
Based on my experience litigating possession of child pornography cases, I can tell you most of these matters arise after a person has become a member of a file sharing network.
Sometimes, defendants do not realize they are sharing their personal collection of images and videos, simply because they lack computer savvy. This is most common with older offenders.
However, if there was intentional file sharing, this is sometimes evidence by online chats between the offender and the undercover detective.
Regardless, cases like these tend to be pretty black and white from an evidentiary perspective. Either the images and videos are child pornography or they are not.
From there, the most effective defenses come from a person’s Constitutional Right to remain silent and their freedom of privacy.
If the only way police can prove Stephen Saftler’s identity as the person who had possession of child pornography due of his own admission, that admission may be inadmissible in court if the police failed to advise him of his Miranda Rights prior to any custodial interrogation.
Also, if the police conducted any kind of illegal search and seizure, then any videos or images recovered as a result are rendered inadmissible in court. When this occurs, a criminal defense attorney is able to file a motion to suppress evidence.
If granted, a motion to suppress may have the effect of completely destroying the prosecution’s case. This has happened before, it happens every day, and will certainly continue to occur countless times into the future.
Said directly, the police do not always follow the law when trying to enforce it.
Sometimes these violations are willful, in other cases they occur when police simply fail to act intelligently or with proper diligence.
It will also be necessary to analyze any eye witness testimony to determine if it is relevant, accurate, reliable, and ultimately admissible in court.
In any event, Stephen Saftler had better hire the best criminal defense lawyer he can find. In Broward County, prosecutors begin plea negotiations at 10-15 years in prison on cases like these.
Possession of child pornography is a very serious offense because prosecutors can charge a person with one count for every image and/or video. This gives then the power to rack up prison sentences in the hundreds of years, even for a first time offender.
As a result, a criminal defense attorney needs to review every nook and cranny of Stephen Saftler’s case to uncover any viable defenses he may have.
Should a viable defense be found, a criminal defense lawyer will then have two options. On the one hand, he/she may be able to successfully challenge the case in court. On the other hand, he/she may use the defenses to negotiate a more favorable plea bargain.
Each case is unique and the best strategy will depend entirely on the specifics present in any one case.
Given my experience as a criminal defense attorney, I would bet Stephen Saftler likely suffers from a psychological problem that can be diagnosed. Should this be the case, he may be able to ask the judge for a mitigated sentence, assuming he is able to get treatment for whatever problem he may have.
Again, the best course of action for Stephen Saftler is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to specifically defend against cases like these.