Operation Green Shepherd III Suspects Denied Counsel
“You have the right to an attorney”, I am sure you have seen it on TV. But if you are arrested in an Internet sex sting in Manatee County, the Sheriff will do everything he can to prevent you from calling one. In order to keep the latest Green Shepherd operation secret, when suspects were arrested, they were held in the “Booking” area for days with no real access to an attorney.
The law requires that you be brought before a judge within 24 hours. First appearance before a judge is a big deal. That is when your bond is set. The suspects were not allowed to make key calls to relatives or friends to hire attorneys. They were allowed one call to a bondsman (if they even knew one). When you are arrested on a sex sting, your phone is taken from you as evidence. Most people do not remember phone numbers and once you are deprived of your phone have no way to contact friends or relative. The Sheriff is manatee made sure these men would not get private lawyers.
To further prevent people from hiring lawyers, information about their arrests was intentionally kept off the Sheriff’s web page until the public announcement of the “sting”.
Many of the men arrested were not seeking minors like the Sheriff said in the release. Most were men seeking adults on the Internet that were tricked into communicating with undercover cops posing as minors. It was the police offering sex and the police requesting travel, not the suspects.
The right to an attorney is a super important right. As a sex crime lawyer I know how important the first few hours are. If you have a pet and are held for days without a call, the pet will die. If you can’t reach relatives or friends, how can you hire a lawyer? If you can’t hire a lawyer, how can you get a fair bond hearing? If you cannot communicate with the outside world you will lose your job. If you have a medical issue, you are out of luck.
There was a deliberate attempt by the Sheriff to deny the men the right to an attorney at a critical stage of the proceedings. I will be addressing this issue with each of the Manatee Judges immediately. If arrested, Call 941 366 3506 for a free consultation or visit my site at