Kurt J. Castaldo will walk out of court with a clean record so long as he follows the guidelines of his three-year probation. This after the former sheriff’s deputy was caught with child pornography on his phone. As part of his plea agreement, he will not be placed in a sex offender registry but, he will never be allowed to work in law enforcement or security again.
On August 21st, Castaldo pleaded guilty to reduced charges of possession of obscene material involving a minor. These are third-degree felonies that carry potential maximum sentences of five years each. Prosecutors dropped charges of directing or promoting sexual performance by a child. That charge alone could have sent Castaldo to prison for 15 years. The also dropped a charge related to the transmission of sexually explicit images involving children.
How it Happened
In June of 2018, the sheriff’s office received a tip after a user uploaded five images involving minors performing sexual acts. Investigators researched the IP address which led back to Castaldo. According to prosecutors, these images were quite graphic showing children aged 6 to 16 who had been forced into performing sexual acts. Castaldo later admitted that he had an interest in child pornography.
The Plea Deal
The plea deal requires that Castaldo spend the first year of his arrest under community control. This will include some form of house arrest and an ankle monitor. Castaldo will have to perform some kind of community service.
In addition to the child pornography, Castaldo was found in possession of six grams of marijuana and baggies that led investigators to believe he might have been distributing it. However, his wife took the fall for the marijuana charges after telling investigators it belonged to her. Castaldo was placed on paid administrative leave and was later exonerated. The state’s attorney never pursued charges against his wife.
Possession of Child Pornography as a Crime
Anyone found guilty of possession of four or more images of child pornography is required, by statute to be sent to prison. That is, unless the judge finds grounds for a downward departure sentence. Possession of child pornography and transmission of child pornography are both grounds to be placed in Florida’s sex offender registry and legally designated sex offenders. In this case, Castaldo, being a former police officer, was given a much more lenient sentence than would have been likely in this situation.
If a judge wishes to “depart” from the mandatory statutory sentence, the court must decide whether or not there are enough mitigating circumstances to warrant the departure. Even in cases where the judge finds substantial mitigating circumstances, they still have broad discretion to impose the statutory minimum. One mitigating factor would be complete cooperation with the investigation.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you’ve been charged with a crime in West Palm Beach, talk to a lawyer before taking a deal. Some deals are indeed deals, while others only look like deals on the surface. The West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. can help show you the difference.