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On June 25th of 2015 the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the Second District’s opinion in Shelley v State and disapproved the First District decision in State v Murphy. That is a victory for those of us who fight the Internet sex sting cases. Basically the Court ruled that you could not be punished twice for the same conduct. The State usually charges a sex sting defendant with multiple offenses arising from the same conduct. The Court ruled that solicitation of a minor is subsumed in the greater offense of traveling to meet a minor and you cannot be punished for both. The sentence on the lesser offense of solicitation of a minor cannot stand.
Does this affect my case?
Many people may have already been sentenced on both, and if, so I urge them to contact their attorney. The double jeopardy ruling may impact your Florida Sentencing Guideline computation. In other words, a person may have received a harsher sentence is he was scored on both. There are many factors that have to be taken into account to determine if this new decision can change your sentence.
What if I am charged with both now?
Make sure your lawyer is aware of this decision. Not all criminal defense lawyers regularly handle sex crime cases. As a sex crime lawyer, I follow the opinions and check daily on any new decisions. The State is trying to get around the double jeopardy decision by charging offenses on different dates. In other words, if a person chatted for three days and traveled on the fourth, the State will charge the solicitation on the first three days, or any one of them, and then charge the travel on the fourth. Ultimately, that issue will be before the courts. Most of the chats occur over several days. Some of the chats may start one day and spill over into the next, all a part of a continuing course of conduct. That is the issue that needs to be raised if you are charged with both offenses. I have been involved in thirty sex sting cases in the last few years and can tell you that no two cases are the same. It all depends on your facts but at least now the Supreme Court of Florida has spoken. If you have yet to be sentenced be sure your criminal defense attorney raises this issue if it applies. In the meantime we will all continue the fight to educate the public on the horrible injustice these sex stings create.
If you have questions or comments, call Attorney Peter D Aiken at 941 366 3506 for a free consultation