Jury Finds Airman Not Guilty in Sarasota Sex Sting
North Port man freed in child sex case
On September 11, 2013, ironically, Patriots Day, a Sarasota jury found a young Airman from Tampa not guilty in an Internet Sex Sting case. The young man had visited a sex site called Craigslist Casual Encounters just hours after returning from a one year post in Korea. He was lured and enticed by an ad posted by an undercover officer, a “chatter” used by the police to entice young men into compromising situations. He responded believing she was an adult and then got baited and switched when the officer said of by the way, I am only 14. The young man responded and agreed to simply “hang out” with no agreement to have sex. When he showed up at Walgreens to meet the young lady, he was arrested.
This was a case of classic bait and switch and entrapment and the jury agreed finding him not guilty in short order. The jury was right. I tried that case with another local attorney Darrin Finebloom who brought me in because of my experience in trying sex crime offenses.
The jury panel at first was very prejudiced because of the nature of the charges but ultimately came around and understood that just because you are accused of a sex offense, it does not mean you are guilty. The undercover officer was a Federal Agent who in this case sent the young man pictures of a woman it would be legal to have sex with. This was outrageous deception and the jury agreed. Sex Sting cases can be won with jury verdicts. Some of the judges are now throwing out the more blatant cases of entrapment but others leave it up to the jury. I handle many Internet Solicitation cases and do a lot of sex crime defense. It is great to see this type of illegal conduct by the police exposed. It confirms my faith in our great jury system. You are indeed innocent until proven guilty.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that statement in reviewing the emails, texts and calls in Internet Sting cases. As a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer I have handled sex sting cases in Sarasota, Manatee, Polk, Seminole and Lee Counties. For some reason, people have the mistaken belief that if they ask someone if they are a cop, the undercover cop has to tell the truth. Nothing could be further from the truth. The police acting in an undercover capacity absolutely can lie. I see this in drug trafficking cases, traveling to meet a minor cases and Internet solicitation cases. In almost every sex sting case I handle, I see over and over the same thing in the chat strings. Why do people believe they have to tell the truth? Who knows?
The police regularly do all kinds of things to trick people into solicitation cases and traveling cases. They send suggestive pictures. They invite people over with sexy chats and emails. They tell them to bring condoms. They tell them to bring drugs. This is how they catch people. In many of the cases, it absolutely in entrapment but it takes a skilled experienced attorney to develop the evidence and get the case dismissed on win it in a jury trial. The big problem is most people do not have the money to hire a good experienced criminal lawyer. In most of the traveling cases, the State as a part of a plea offer wants at least 42 months in prison followed by sex offender registration and sex offender probation. A sentence like that will ruin your life forever. If a loved one has been busted in one of the operations like Green Shepherd in Bradenton or Operation Intercept in Sarasota and their case is still pending be sure they have real adequate representation. Unfortunately the public defender has an enormous caseload. They are good lawyers but terribly overworked. Call today for a free consultation. (941) 366-3506
All across Florida they are continuing to run Internet Sex Stings. In Polk County this month, June of 2013, it was the ninth sting and it resulted in 41 arrests. True, they may catch a real predator now and then but in the process they arrest dozens of innocent people destroying their lives forever. There are valid defenses to these sex crime arrests and having an experienced sex crime lawyer can make a difference. Under the Florida sentencing guidelines if you are convicted of traveling to meet a minor you are looking at a State prison sentence. If you get convicted of solicitation of a minor, you are looking at jail.
The truth is that many people simply get drawn into chatting, texting and emailing with no intent to ever have sex with a minor. Remember years ago when they had phone sex operators where women kept people on theline talking at three dollars a minute. The Internet has replaced this business. People sit for hours at a computer simply chatting and engaging in a pure fantasy with no real intent of ever acting out on it. The Internet has become a trap for the lonely and many men who are simply lonely find themselves being lured by the police into compromising situations.
Entrapment is a defense in some cases. Were the police in and adult site? Did the police bring up sex? Did the police send a photograph? Did the police invite you over? Did the police suggest travel? Did the police ask for a “pic”
These are all issues that may give rise to an entrapment defense. I have defended Internet sex crimes going as far back as the “To catch a predator” TV series by Chris Hansen. As a sex crime lawyer, I understand how ordinary people get drawn into these situation with no real intent to ever interact with a minor. I have handled cases in Sarasota, Lee, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Charlotte, Polk and Manatee County and in every County the police seem to be engaging in entrapment. A judge in Manatee just this month threw out two cases. The State is appealing but in my opinion will not win. If you or a loved one have been arrested in a sex sting, do not give up hope. Prison is not a certainty and having a public defender may not be a good choice. I am not here to judge you, I am here to defend you. Call my Sarasota office at 941 366 3506 or you can visit my site at thesexoffenderdefender.com