The TV series “To Catch a Predator” highlighted the steps that law enforcement will go to not only build cases against adults who travel to meet minors for illegal purposes, but also highlighted how easy it is for adults to communicate with minors without the parents knowing. The advent of social media becoming so prevalent has only increased the ability to contact minors, as well as the ease of law enforcement to track, arrest and prosecute those who are accused with these offenses.
Fla. Stat. §847.0135(4), makes it a 2º Felony, punishable by up to 15 years is prison to use a computer online serve, internet service, or other electronic data service to arrange for anyone to travel to a minor for purposes of sexual activity. It is not a defense if the parent or guardian agrees to the meeting, nor is it a defense if the adult thought the minor was of age – even if the minor lied about being under 18.
If you have either been arrested or even contacted by a police officer to speak to you about any meeting with a minor and the use of internet media, then you should meet with a Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney before the authorities complete building a case against you.
The Tampa Criminal Defense Attorneys at Taracks & Associates have handled all types of cases involving allegations of meeting with minors with the use of the internet and social medial. So call today for your Free Consultation at 813-281-2897, to discuss the allegations that you are currently facing.
If you are the target of a suspected attempt to meet with a minor for sexual purposed, law enforcement has a vast array of techniques that they will pursue without letting you know that they are doing so. Law enforcement officers can get a search warrant for your phone/text messages, internet records, instagram accounts, and even your email accounts, without notifying you that you are a target of their investigation.
Once these cases are presented to a prosecutor, that prosecutor will use all available resources to aggressively prosecute the case knowing that these allegations are tough to defend, are difficult to get a jury to fairly look at all of the facts without being swayed about the emotions of protecting a minor, and that there is likely a parent of a minor that is pushing for long prison sentence.
In addition to the stringent punishment that is sought in cases of using a computer to meet a minor, anyone who is convicted of such a crime will also have to register as a sex offender pursuant to Fla.Stat.§943.0435. This is required even if the police make an arrest before the minor is ever met in person and in cases where a police office is posing online as a minor.
Despite these underlying factors, the Hillsborough Criminal Defense Attorneys at Taracks & Associates know and understand how to navigate these charges and present the best possible defense to protect your freedom, livelihood and reputation.
For example, was a law enforcement officer posing as a minor and the communication started by the officer amount to entrapment? Did the prosecuting authorities retain the text messages that were incriminating, but discard the messages that benefit the defense of the case where second thoughts of the meeting cancelled the idea, even before plans were made? Was there no intent to travel, and the internet was used only for purposes of a fantasy that would lead to no meeting and nothing harmful to a minor? Was there some kind of other overreaching by authorities that would concern a judge and lead to a dismissal of the case?
Even if none of the above may appear to apply, are there other “subtle” reasons that when presented to a prosecutor that may allow for some type of plea negotiation to a lesser charge that could keep a major felony off of your record, or even to convince the prosecutor not to bring the charges to court? These are the type of situations that an experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney knows how to handle for the benefit of an accused.
So, if you or anyone you know is facing allegations of using a computer to meet with a minor for sexual purposes, these charges must be handled properly as soon as possible since the authorities will use all of their available resources to not only convict, but to secure a long prison sentence. Please contact one of the Tampa Sex Offender Attorneys at Taracks & Associates for your Free Consultation today at 813-281-2897.