Under the laws of the state of Florida anyone traveling to meet a minor for the purpose of engaging in any illegal act of sexual misconduct is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Florida statute §847.0135 states that the crime of Traveling to Meet a Minor occurs when a person: 1) uses an online service, internet service, or electronic device to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a person believed to be a minor child to engage in unlawful sexual conduct; and also 2) travels any distance within Florida, from Florida, or to Florida for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with the child. This particular type of crime was given broad media exposure with the NBC program "To Catch a Predator." With the all attention the law gained, law enforcement agencies around the country and around the state (especially in the Tampa Bay area) stepped up their efforts to catch individuals violating this law. The typical undercover investigation involves law enforcement posing as someone looking for sexual activity online. While the target of the investigation may be looking for "adult" fun, the undercover officer or "decoy" will usually portray themselves to be a minor or the parent of a minor that is seeking a sexual relationship. During the communication with the decoy the conversation will ultimately turn sexual and a meeting will be arranged. Many times photos, emails, text messages, phone calls, and chat rooms are used and exchanged during the communication. These methods of communication are almost always recorded by law enforcement. Once the suspect arrives with the intention of meeting the underage child law enforcement will make their arrest.
An arrest for traveling to meet a minor almost always involves media attention, damage to a person's reputation, damage to a person's family, and possibly loss of employment. Even if a person is not truly guilty of traveling to meet a minor, and instead was intending to meet an adult, the simple act of being arrested for that charge can result in this damage. These serious consequences are in addition to the criminal consequences of imprisonment and being labeled a Sex Offender. While things may seem bleak for someone arrested for traveling to meet a minor, there are defenses out there available to you. The attorneys here at Taracks & Associates are knowledgeable and experienced in the defenses available to you.
One of the defenses available to a charge of traveling to meet a minor is Entrapment. There are two different kinds of entrapment defenses recognized by the Florida courts, subjective and objective entrapment. When using a subjective entrapment defense the courts will look at 3 things: 1) whether law enforcement or one of their agents induced or encouraged the accused to commit the crime charged, 2) whether the accused was predisposed to commit the crime, and 3) whether the issue of entrapment should be decided by a jury. This theory of entrapment has been included in Florida Statute §777.201. Objective entrapment is when the courts look at the actions of law enforcement to determine if they acted in such an outrageous manner that they should be prevented from bringing charges against the person they arrested. In this type of entrapment defense it does not matter whether the accused was predisposed to commit the crime. What truly matters is the action of law enforcement. The attorneys here at Taracks & Associates have the experience necessary to determine which type of entrapment defense would be available to you based upon your situation.
If you have been arrested for traveling to meet a minor in the Tampa Bay Area, contact the attorneys at Taracks & Associates immediately. We have four former prosecutors here with the knowledge and experience necessary to help you fight these charges. One of our attorneys was a lead trial attorney in the Sex Offender division of the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office. Who better to assist you in fighting the charge of traveling to meet a minor than an attorney that used to prosecute that exact types of charge. We have represented many individuals charged with traveling to meet a minor and have assisted those individuals in avoided prison time as well as convictions for this serious offense.
Call us today for a free confidential consultation at 813-281-2897. Our team has the training and experience necessary to provide you with the best legal defense in what is sure to be the toughest battle of your life.