APPEALS COURT OVERTURNS DISMISSAL IN SEX STING CASE

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APPEALS COURT OVERTURNS DISMISSAL IN SEX STING CASE

The Fifth District Court of Appeal in December of 2013 and again in January of 2014 reversed the Circuit Court Judge and reinstated criminal charges in two sex sting cases from Orange County, Florida.  Both cases involved sex stings where the defendant was charged with attempting to solicit a minor for sex using an electronic device.  The lower Court had thrown out the charges holding that there had to actually be communication with the minor.  In the State v Wilson case, the undercover cop posed as an aunt offering her 13 year old niece for sex.

The defendant had traveled to meet the minor and had been charged under two different Statutes.  The Fifth District held that the lower Court misinterpreted the “attempt” statute and that the statute applied when a person attempted to solicit a child through an intermediary.

Basically, the Court ruled that the “attempt” statute made it a crime to solicit a child through an intermediary.  There is in fact a separate statute that makes it a crime to solicit a parent, legal guardian or custodian of a child but the State had not charged the crime under that statute.  Basically the Court held that you could be charged either under the attempt statute or the or F. S. 847.0135(3)(b).

There are two ways you can win a sex sting case.  One way is on the law.  That is getting tougher and tougher as the Courts generally rule in favor of the State.  The other way is with a jury on the facts of the case.  Thank God for the jury system.  The State still has to convince six people that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  As a sex crime lawyer I do appreciate how frustrating it is given the terrible publicity created by the local sheriff after each of the Sex Stings.  It is difficult, but not impossible.  There are still several cases working their way through the Courts on the issue of Entrapment.  Hopefully in these cases the lower Courts dismissal will be upheld.  The battle goes on……

If you feel that this ruling impacts your case and would like more information you can contact our firm For a Free Consultation call now at (941) 366-3506

Can You Get Off the Sex Offender Registration List?

 

2945345_1 PDACan You Get Off the Sex Offender Registration List?

 

 

Under some very specific conditions, you may be able to be removed from the Sex Offender registration list.  One of the ways is under Florida Statute 943.04354.  This Statute is called the Romeo and Juliette law.  It is designed to address the situations where  the “victim” is between 14 and no more than17 and the defendant is no more than four years older.  For example, if the victim was 15 years of age and the defendant was 19, the Court may enter an order directing that the defendant not become a registered sex offender.  This law is intended to rectify the situation where kids in high school engage in sex and it is a technical violation of the law. 

As a sex crime lawyer I often encounter a situation where teenagers have engaged in sexual relations and the girl is under age.  Angry parents are generally the catalyst in bringing these cases to Court.  In defending sex crimes involving teenagers, I have also been successful in convincing the Court to sentence under the Youthful offender Act and in some instances even withhold adjudication.  In the best case scenario, it is possible to keep the accused from becoming a felon and becoming a registered sex offender.  The motion has to be made 21 days before sentencing.  Having a criminal defense attorney that knows all of the options is critical.

I also get calls from men who many years ago became registered sex offenders as a result of a plea in another State where they were afraid to go to trial.  It may not be too late to get off the sex offender registration list if you meet certain criteria.  If you are on the list and there is a legal way to get off the list, you really need to do it.

In Florida, law enforcement looks for ways to charge registered sex offenders for minor technical violations like not reporting a change in address, not registering a screen name or not registering with the Department of motor vehicles.  As a sex offense attorney I run into this all the time.  If you can get off the list, do it now.

Call 941 366 3506in Sarasota or call 239 334 8890 in Ft. Myers for a free consultation or you can visit my website for further information.

Response from a Young Man Convicted Sex Sting

2945345_1 PDALiofe Changed After Sex Sting Conviction

 

Charlene Floyd
Ck_floyd@yahoo.com
99.7.212.182

I wish I had known a lawyer like you when my son was entrapped on a P2P sting in Houston Texas. The FBI came to my house 3months after my son turned 18. I got the name of a lawyer here in Texas who came highly recommended however I found out too late he knew nothing about computers and the internet. I’ve been told my son is lucky. He ended up pleading guilty to posession of child pornograghy and the judge sentenced him to 1 year and a day. But 15 years probation and of course registering for life. Talk about your life being over before it began. Keep fighting for what is right. Thank you. Charlene Floyd

Georgia Supreme Court hears Argument on Internet Sex Sting Case 2014

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Georgia Supreme Court hears Argument on Internet Sex Sting Case

After the lower Court reversed a conviction in a Caloosa County sex sting case, the County prosecutor appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.  At stake are a number of Georgia Internet sex sting cases dealing with entrapment.  The Georgia case dealt with undercover officers posing as parents offering sex with their children.  This is a very common tactic in cases here in Florida, particularly Manatee County.  The decision although not binding on the Courts here in Florida, may be persuasive argument in the many pending cases.

There are many prosecutions here in Florida where the police and the FDLE agents who are members of ICAC task forces pose are parents promoting sex with their children.  They generally post in adult social media sites like Craigslist with suggestive posts in adult only sections.  The then move the texts and emails to discussions about sex with children.  Usually they mention a fourteen old daughter or in some cases a fourteen year old sister suggesting that the child needs to learn about sex.  These are totally bogus ads and entrapment at the highest level.  Some of the courts and some of the juries are now catching on to this police entrapment technique.  The officers will pretend to be concerned and cautious using phrases like “you are not a cop are you”.  This phrase is designed to put the person on the other end at ease.  As a sex sting lawyer I have reviewed thousands of texts and emails and there is a pattern to the police entrapment cases.  The police generally post in adult only sites like Craigslist or Dating.com.  They will imply or suggest that there is a young girl who in “inexperienced” and needs to learn about sex.  The girl will generally be 13 or 14 years old.  They will use phrases like “Spring Break” or “parents are away for the weekend”.  They will use smiley faces and the typical “lol’ in their texts.  They will tell the person responding that “you are hot”.  All of this is part of a bait and switch to lure an adult seeking sex with an adult into chat or texting with a minor. 

The police will send photos of a minor, usually a photograph of another officer when they were in their teens.  Sending photographs is against the rules and procedures but they do in anyway.

If you or a loved one have fallen victim to this police entrapment do not give up.  Many of the people arrested are simply lonely men who were texting out a fantasy on the Internet.  These cases can be successfully defended if the facts support entrapment.

As a sex crime lawyer I follow and track the cases being decided in Florida and there is a trend towards the public becoming more and more aware of what the police are really doing.

Call 941 366 3506 for a free consultation

 

Arrested for Child Pornography?

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Arrested for Child Pornography?

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2945345_1-PDA.jpgIf you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with possession or transmission of Child Pornography also known as “Kiddie Porn” you may find yourself in a legal nightmare.  The situation is not totally hopeless.  Your friends and employer may have abandoned you but there may be legal defenses to the Federal or State Charges against you.

The first issue that has to be dealt with is bail bond.  In Federal Court, the judges may initially deny bond claiming you are a threat to the community.  In State Court, the judges routinely set high bonds.  You start off with the deck stacked against you.  In most instances we have been able to get a reasonable bond set.  Once you are out you need to find an attorney who really understands the ins and outs of sex crime defense.

If you are charged with possession of child pornography and the crime involves a computer there may be legal issues dealing with your knowledge of what was on the computer.  Sometimes something may end up on your computer without your knowledge and knowledge is an essential element of the offense.  Someone may have sent you illegal images without your knowledge.  The police or the Federal authorities may have illegally seized your computer or tricked you into surrendering it.  As a former Federal prosecutor and experienced sex crime lawyer, over the years I have handled many child porn cases in both Federal and State Court.  An attorney needs to really understand cyber crimes and computers to mount a good defense.

Your attorney also needs to have a real grasp of the Sentencing Guidelines in both State and Federal Court.  In Federal cases where images were transmitted you could be facing eight or nine years in Federal prison under the guidelines.  Do not take a sex crime charge lightly.  You could end up being a registered sex offender for life or under supervision for many many years.

We offer free consultations in sex crime casesCall me at my Sarasota office at 941 366 3506

Does the Jury System Work in Sex Crime Trials?

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Does the Jury System Work in Sex Crime Trials?

Anytime a person goes to trial in a sex crime trial they face the reality that jurors generally come into the Courtroom with prejudices created my years of misinformation.  This is true whether you are charged in an Internet Sex Sting or some other sex crime like sexual battery on a minor.  As a sex crime lawyer I deal with this prejudice on a regular basis.  In my last trial, out of the first 35 jurors questioned, over one third had to be dismissed for “cause”, their inability to sit fairly and impartially.  If you are facing a criminal trial for any type of sex offense your lawyer need to be aware of just how tough it is to get a fair trial.  When you get charged with a sex offense, everyone presumes you are guilty.  Your employer, your relatives, your spouse and your friends generally walk away.  What people need to understand is that false accusations are made all the time.  I have seen cases where women, days weeks or months after a sexual encounter claim that it was nonconsensual.  Being falsely accused of a sex crime is a terrible thing.  Being found guilty is even worse.  You face lifetime registration as a sex offender or worse yet a sex predator.  You face doing time in prison where the possibility of jail rape is very real.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going and you really need to exhaust every possibility before making a decision to plead guilty.  Sex cases can be won and not all cases are hopeless.  Thorough investigation, an understanding of the law and good trial skills can make a difference.  The very sad truth is that in America, many times you get as much justice as you can afford.  The Public Defender is appointed when you cannot afford a private criminal defense lawyer.  Unfortunately, the public defenders carry an enormous case load and simply do not have the time and resources to tackle time intensive cases.  If you or a loved one are charged with a sex crime you need to find a way to hire a really good sex crime lawyer.  It can make a huge difference.  If you have questions, call for a free consultation at 941 366 3506

Craigslist….Open Season on Sex Offenders

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Every day innocent lonely men are tricked into committing sex crimes that will land them in State prison.  Many times this starts with an innocent visit to Craigslist Casual Encounters.

The best way to avoid a sex crime arrest is to not commit a sex crime like Internet Solicitation

Here are some dead giveaway lines the undercover cops regularly use:

“I am only 14, is that ok? Lol”             If you see this, terminate all contact and flag it.

“my parents are away”                        If you see this, terminate all contact and flag it

“I don’t have much experience”        If you see this, terminate all contact and flag it

“are you a cop?”                                   If you see this, they are a cop.

“I am here for spring break”              If you see this, terminate all contact and flag it

“I am a single mom with a daughter”     Terminate all contact and flag it.

“some taboo family fun”                    If you see this, terminate all contact and flag it.

“I want my daughter to learn”          If you see this, terminate all contact and flag it.

Here is a reality check….Underage girls are not on Craigslist looking for sex…Cops are!

Thousands of men are arrested each year in Internet Sex Stings….Do not be one of them!

As a Florida sex crime lawyer I have handled sex cases all over Floirda for many years.  There is an explosion of false arrests and entrapment cases all over Florida.  The State gets money from the Feds with ICAC grants.  Don’t become a statistic or a lifetime registered sex offender.

 

For a free consultation call today….. (941)366-3506

Two More Sex Stings in Florida over Thanksgivings

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Two More Sex Stings in Florida over Thanksgivings

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Law Enforcement still at it running Sex Stings in Walton and Osceola County in the last week of November. The latest ploys involve cops posing as parents offering their kids for hookups on the Social Media sites and Chat rooms.  The ads they post usually say something like “Single mom wants help with her attractive daughter” or “Open minded single dad wants daughter to learn”.  If you see an ad like this or anything close, it is absolutely an undercover sex sting operation.  Never respond to any advertisement or text or chat that suggests offering an underage person for sex.  Do not get entrapped by this type of police conduct.  The best way to avoid an arrest is to not commit a crime no matter how tempting the police make it appear.

The simple fact is, parents do not offer their children for sex and single moms do not need your help teaching their daughters about sex.  The police in Polk and Osceola County and the officers involved in the ICAC operations run these sex stings over and over and the arrests still keep coming.  They have an incentive.  The various Counties get massive Federal funding and need to produce statistics and results to justify the money they get.  They get to forfeit the cars they seize and find it much easier to create a crime by entrapping innocent people on the Internet.

Sex is Bait and these cops are masters at manipulating otherwise law abiding citizens into traveling to meet a minor.  It is a crime to solicit a minor or a person posing as a parent of a minor so do not under any circumstances reply to any chat or text that even remotely suggests such a sexual encounter.  As a Florida sex crime lawyer I have handled dozens of these cases in Counties throughout South and Central Florida.  They are tough battles but not impossible to win.  You start off with public opinion against you.  Read the comments on the Media articles and you will see how terribly misplaced public opinion really is.  If you or a loved one have been  charged in a sex sting and want to discuss your options, call me at 941 366 3506 or for more information, visit my website at  www.sexstinglawyer.com

Should I Take a Deal or Go to Trial

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If you have been arrested as a result of an Internet Sex Sting in Polk, Manatee, Sarasota, Hillsborough or Orange County and you are facing a trial date, you are facing one of the most difficult decisions of your life.  In most cases, the State Attorney will make a plea offer.  Those offers vary dramatically from County to County.  In some areas, the State attorney will make a reasonable offer.  In others, they take a hard line.

If you are charged with traveling to meet a minor, Internet solicitation of a minor or Internet solicitation of a parent of a minor, the Florida sentencing guidelines are harsh and you are facing at least 42 months in State prison.  In many instances, if you have a good attorney, you may get an offer to allow you to plead to a lesser offense like attempted child abuse or some other non sex offense.  These offers to lesser charges come with strings.  The State may want you to agree to sex offender probation even if you are not required to become a sex offender.
You have to make a tough decisions setting certain priorities.  If your number on priority is to stay out of State prison, you should seriously consider that offer.  State prison for a young man is a dangerous place and jail rape is a real problem you might encounter.  Doing time in the County jail sometimes is an alternative and the situation in terms of personal safety is much better there.

The big thing you need to consider is whether or not you get an offer to plea to a non sex offense.  Many of the sex offenses make you a registered sex offender for at least twenty years and that means major problems in your life in terms of where you live, what you can do, how the world treats you and your entire future.  In my opinion, the number one goal should be avoiding being designated a registered sex offender even if that means a short stint in the County jail.  You need to think long term in sex sting cases.

As a sex sting lawyer I have handled dozens of these cases and can honestly tell you, no two cases are the same.  The age of the defendant is a major factor the State considers in making an offer.  The email and text exchanges are other factors to be considered.   Whether or not the police engaged in entrapment is another factor that may influence the decision as to whether or not to go to trial.  Most importantly is the history of the judge when it comes to sentencing.  Some Courts impose harsher sentences if you go to trial and reward defendants who take the first step towards rehabilitation and enter a plea.

Talk to you lawyer.  If you have a public defender, make an appointment and go in and discuss the details of your case.  Many people regret their decision and have second thoughts later in life.  You need to make an informed decision considering all the factors.  If you have already made the tough decision and regret it, there may be alternatives.

 Call today for a free consultation at 941 366 3506 or you can visit

What Were You Thinking? She Said She was 14 Years Old

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What Were You Thinking?  She Said She was 14 Years Old

If you are reading this blog, chances are it is not too late to save yourself.  When men are arrested in Internet Sex Stings, SUCH AS OPERATION e-GUARDIAN, as a condition of bail bond they are usually prohibited from going on the Internet and will never see this blog.  There are however some of you that may have chatted with an undercover cop and have not yet been arrested.  You may or may not have a problem.   Have you ever texted or chatted with a girl that says she is 14 or 15 years old?  It was probably and undercover police officer.  Did the person you chatted with suggest traveling to her house?  Did she say her parents were away?

These are all clues that that the person you are chatting with is an undercover police officer.  Never have sex with a minor.  Ever hear the term “jail bait”.  You are signing up for a stiff prison sentence. (No pun intended)  The best way to not get arrested is to never, no never interact on the Internet with anyone that says they are underage.  The best way to not get caught is to not commit a crime in the first place.  There are more police on the Internet than there are real people looking to hookup.

As a sex crime lawyer I can pick out a cop ad from a mile away.  Young girls do not have to advertise on the Internet to have sex.  There are tons of boys as school dying to get into their pants.  Do you really think that any sweet young thing wants an old guy like you?  Get wise and get off the Internet.  IF you are reading this too late, call for a free consultation at my office in Sarasota  941 366 3506 or visit my web site at thesexoffenderdefender.com

Media Links:

 

http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_hillsborough/Operation-E-Guardian-busts-men-trying-to-meeting-kids-for-sex-in-Hillsborough-County-location-

http://www.wfla.com/story/23746773/operation-e-guardian-nabs-15-child-predators-in-5-counties

http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/FloridaLaws.jsp