May 18 2017
The sheriff and other participating law enforcement officers announced the arrest of 21 men in the latest Jacksonville sex sting.
The men were as young as 21 and as old as 61.
The police claim that two of the men resisted and tried to get away.
They paid the price and their booking photos reflect it. Most of the men got charged with traveling to meet a minor or use of a computer to solicit a minor. Some got charged with unlawful use of a two way communication device.
The latest sting is called Operation Watchdog.
I could not help but notice that in the booking photos it looked like a couple of the suspects got roughed up a bit. For whatever reason, in a lot of the stings, the police slam them to the ground and twist their arms.
Sadly excessive force is something everyone seems to ignore.
They did another big media presentation with the usual suspects displayed on poster board. What the public does not realize, is that in many of the cases, it is the police that seek out people with ads on Internet dating sites. Although the person may have posted looking for an adult female, the police will respond and then pretend to be a minor. The truth is that on the Internet you can believe nothing. People lie all the time about their age, their gender and their looks. Just because someone says they are 13 or 14 does not mean it is true.
Just because they say they are a woman, does not mean it is true.
I have now defended sting cases all over Florida and in my experience, most of the time, it is the police doing the luring, seducing and enticing. In making an arrest, the police ignore the fact that they are lying about age or intentions but on the same hand claim that the person responding is telling the truth.
I had a case thrown out once where the Judge correctly concluded that it was nothing more than two people lying to each other.
There are defenses to these types of cases. There are technical and factual defenses and many defense lawyers simply lack real experience in sex stings and lack knowledge about the Internet. I have been handling stings going all the way back to the Chris Hansen TV show “To catch a predator”.
Do not abandon a relative or coworker.
Do not believe what you see on television in the media reports.
The stations are fed a bunch or distorted facts and often what you see on television is later turned out not to be true. Young men can have their lives ruined and end up being a registered sex offender for life, not to mention serving time in State prison.
These cases are tough and if charged, a person needs a tough lawyer that knows his stuff.