Tampa sex crimes attorneys routinely face similar questions after the large scale sting operations that have become commonplace throughout central Florida over the last ten years. This article will explain the specifics of the “traveling to meet a minor” charge, common law enforcement tactics used in these cases and potential defenses to the charges.
First and foremost, the charge is defined under Florida Statute Section 847.0135. Specifically, subsection (4) criminalizes the specific acts discussed in this article. Essentially, the charge has two elements. First, one is required to use some sort of online service to “seduce, solicit, lure, or entice or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure…” Obviously, these sorts of words and/or phrases allow a significant degree of interpretation, which is often the cause of litigation in these cases. Secondly, an individual must travel some distance, even within Florida or the same county in Florida. As we have discussed throughout our Tampa sex crimes attorney blog, Florida relies on a scoresheet to determine required sentences. Given the level of the offense, if someone is convicted of “traveling to meet a minor” they face a minimum prison sentence of twenty one (21) months in a Florida prison. Additionally, the sentencing Judge can also sentence the offender to up to fifteen (15) years in a Florida Prison, fifteen (15) years of sex offender probation and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Secondly, law enforcement tactics in these matters can be described as aggressive at best in these traveling to meet a minor sex stings. More often than not, the overwhelming majority of individuals charged with this offense are arrested as part of a sting, which is often a joint venture between a local sheriff’s office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Generally, the ruse begins with law enforcement posting a profile posing as adult, but quickly changing their tune once a conversation begins. For example, law enforcement has been known to use Craigslist, Backpage, Meetme.com, Facebook, etc. to create such profiles.
Lastly, the most common defense to traveling to meet a minor is entrapment. Many folks have heard of entrapment through true crime movies and television shows. Entrapment basically asserts that individuals cannot be successfully prosecuted because law enforcement created the situation and criminal intent resulting in the arrest. Entrapment can be raised before either a judge or jury. As you can imagine, this is somewhat difficult to prove as law enforcement continues hone their skills and tactics. Law enforcement continues to adapt their strategies based on successful motions and defenses throughout the area.
If you or someone you know has questions concerning a traveling to meet a minor, contact the Tampa sex crimes attorneys of Hackworth Law. We have handled thousands of criminal cases throughout the Central Florida area, including all of Tampa Bay. If you would like to contact one of our Tampa sex crimes attorneys immediately, please use the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website. We appreciate you taking the time to check out our Tampa sex crimes attorney blog and look forward to hearing from you.