Tampa sex crimes attorneys are often asked why so many online sex stings happen in the Tampa area, the simple answer is that the keep netting so many arrests. Frankly, the simple fact is that each online sex sting nets so many arrests depending on whether it occurs in Plant City, Tampa, Clearwater or Polk County. Over the weekend, local media reported another online sex sting which netted 15 men, who traveled from Pasco, Sarasota, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties. Interestingly enough, law enforcement involved in the sting are reporting that they still plan on making additional arrests for individuals that didn’t actually travel to meet the minor for sex, but simply engaged in a chat with the decoy. The Sheriff of Polk County, Grady Judd, has been especially aggressive with online sex stings. His stings are noteworthy because they often are accompanied by publicized press conferences, including larger than life blowup of the mugshots of the folks arrested in the stings. Additionally given Polk County’s close proximity to Disney World, these stings often involve individuals from across the country and economic backgrounds.
The online sex stings administered by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (“FDLE”) and/or the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and/or the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office are similar to those produced by Dateline NBC on “To Catch a Predator”. The most significant difference between those stings and those being done in the greater Tampa area are that the online sex stings performed by FDLE and local law enforcement often involve “baiting” individuals out by the decoy posing as an adult initially, then introducing the thought or proposition of sex with a minor. This obviously raises major issues with entrapment and the introduction of criminal intent by law enforcement.
Unfortunately, these types of cases often involve the arrest of individuals with little to no criminal history, yet they face significant criminal sanctions, including lengthy prison sentences and/or sex offender probation. For example, the sting discussed above, which occurred this weekend, did not include anyone with prior sex related convictions. We have posted another blog article about sex offender probation on our Tampa criminal defense blog. It is worth repeating though that sex offender probation is incredibly difficult to complete without violating.
If you or someone you know has been involved in an online sex sting in the Tampa area, contact the Tampa sex crimes attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation. We have handled these difficult cases before and gotten positive results for our clients. We appreciate your time in checking out our blog.