The latest sex sting in Gainesville netted 15 arrests.
It tied up 46 officers from seven agencies for a week.
The average sex sting costs about $80,000 in police time, money and resources, not to mention what is spent after that in Court appearances, depositions and trials. The police spokesman claimed that it was “vital for the community” to protect our children. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Sex stings actually create crime, not prevent it. Skillful police go on the Internet posing as adults and then do a classic bait and switch and claim to be a child, usually 13 or 14 years old. They lure and entice unsuspecting men and try and convince them to come and meet. They often send suggestive pictures of girls that look like adults.
Most of the men apprehended are not pedophiles but rather shy, introverted and often mentally challenged or intellectually disabled semi-adults.
I have defended over forty of these cases in Counties around Florida and in my opinion it is a colossal waste of manpower and money.
Think how many real crimes could have been prevented or how many actual violent criminals could have been apprehended by the 46 officers tied up in the sting.
Why does law enforcement run sex stings like this?
For the local Sheriff, an elected official, most of the time it is about getting publicity. After all, they can run again, claiming they have made the streets safe for kids. That is simply not true. For the other agencies it is a way to justify getting Federal funds. The departments have to justify Federal ICAC grants and funding. It is an easy way to create feel good statistics, and keep the money flowing. There are defenses to these types of cases. The man arrested may have been illegally entrapped. He may have been lied to and fallen for a bait and switch. He may be intellectually challenged. I am representing two Autistic men now in a similar sting. They appear to be functioning adults but in reality function at the level of a twelve year old. Do not abandon a relative arrested in a case like this. You cannot believe what you see on television. There is a world of difference between what the Sheriff says on the TV and what really happened.
In the latest Gainesville Internet sting operation, only five men were arrested.
Either the men are getting wiser and more savvy to the police undercover operations, or the police are down to the bottom of the bucket on suspects. The truth is that many times, in the operations that are supposed to target predators, the police really arrest mentally challenged young men or socially inept shy men who fall for police entrapment. I have now handled about forty of these cases across the State. In the last sting in Manatee County, two of the young men arrested were Autistic. One had suffered major traumatic brain injury and another was intellectually challenged. Many, if not most of the people arrested in the sex stings are not really pedophiles. Many are shy and introverted and are on the Internet seeking a date. I have one case where the 28 year old man had never had a date or sex in his life, much less sex with a child.
The truth is that these sex sting operations create crimes and destroy lives forever.
It is true that occasionally they will arrest someone who was truly looking for a child but most of the time it is the police undercover detectives that are doing the seducing. It is the police that go on the social media sites posing as adults. They post seductive photographs with suggestive comments as an adult, usually 19 or 20, and then when unsuspecting adult men respond, they claim to be underage. In reality, nothing on the Internet is true. The police are lying about who they are, their age, and their intentions. When men respond, most of the time, they are also lying. Most of these cases involve two men lying to each other. The police then take the position that what the suspect is saying is true when most of the time it is just Internet lying and role playing. The public and the juries need to be educated as to how these cases are really being created by the cops to pump up arrest statistics.
If you have a son or relative arrested in one of these sex stings, do not abandon them.
Many times, they are not really guilty and are in fact the victim themselves of police entrapment.
You cannot believe the medial reports. The media is often misled by the local sheriff. For an elected official, sex stings are a press bonanza. It gives the sheriff a chance to stand before the cameras and tell his citizens he is protecting their children. Just look at the Grady Judd dog and pony show they run every other month. The truth is that in a lot of the cases, the police are the ones doing the luring, seducing and enticing. It makes great press but it does nothing to protect and serve the community. Imagine if that same police resource was used to identify potential terrorists or dangerous mentally ill people hell bent on death and destruction. Imagine if those same officers were on the Internet targeting terrorists instead of shy men.
The Internet is a dangerous place.
Social media like “Plentyofish.com” is a favorite used by police. If you ever are on a social media site and someone claims to be underage, flag them and report them to the police immediately. Do your part to keep real children off these sites. As a sex crime lawyer, I see the other side of these cases. The true harm done to the shy young men is heartbreaking.
If you or a loved one was arrested in the recent Gainesville Florida internet sting or arrested in Alachua County for a sex sting Crime talk to a Sex Crime Lawyer
In light of the fact that Polk County just ran a sting with forty two arrests you can expect that the Sheriff in Manatee and the Sheriff in Sarasota will soon follow suit. We usually see sex sting cases right around Valentine’s day so we are a week overdue for another sting here. In the Polk sting, the Sheriff’s office focused on child pornography with great success.
I cannot impress upon you too much how terrible the penalties are, particularly here in Sarasota County.
The State is enhancing all the third degree felonies to second degree charges and running the guidelines through the roof when it comes to State prison time.
The best way to not get arrested is to stay away from the peer to peer sharing programs and more importantly, never, no never download or view kiddie porn. You can end up doing more time for looking at a video of a thirteen year old than actually having sex with a 13 year old. The State attorney in Manatee and Sarasota has a scorched earth policy and files dozens of charges running the Florida sentencing guidelines up to thirty to fifty years, for just viewing a video. If you are on the Internet and anyone ever asks you to send child pornography to them, do not do it. In thesex stings, the cops will engage a person in chat and then suggest an exchange ofchild pornography. Never do that. Nothing good comes of ever viewing an underage person engaged in sex. Most of the time, you will end up in prison for letting curiosity get the best of you.
There is a scam running now on the Internet.
If you are on PlentyOfish.com or Craigslist.com a woman claiming at first to be an adult will get you to exchange dirty pics. She will send you a sexually explicit vagina pic and ask you to send her a dick pic. When you do fall for this, you will get a later text, email or call from someone pretending to be a detective. The “detective” will tell you that you have been communicating with a minor and offer you a “diversion” program for a fee. This is a money hustle and a scam. As a sex crime criminal defense lawyer I get calls almost every week from men who have been contacted by someone pretending to be a cop. Real cops do not do that so if you get a call like that, terminate the call and block future texts emails and calls from that person
Valentines is only days away and in the past, this has been the time of year the police run their Internet sex stings.
They are doing things a little different now. In the past, they stalked Craigslist casual encounters. Since the arrests have been falling off, they now are actually contacting people on the phone applications and dating sites. PlentOfish.com is one of the prime targets. Even if a person posts as an adult looking for an adult, the police try and pull the bait and switch. My advice is to totally avoid the Internet dating sites. Nothing on the Internet is true. Everyone lies about who they are, what they want and in particular, their age. Men pretend to be women. Women pretend to be something other than what they are. Cops pretend to be a legit date.
If anyone even ever remotely suggests they are underage, flag their ad or post and walk away. Everyone should to their part to keep kids off the Internet and flagging someone that claims they are a minor is a good start. Never, no never chat or text with anyone claiming to be 13 or 14 years old. Never, no never send a penis pic to anyone. Your penis isn’t that pretty and you run the risk of getting scammed or arrested. Nothing good comes of seeing your penis on the Internet, ever. If you are straight, chances are you are actually texting or emailing with a gay guy, not some woman or girl. If you are gay, you are likely being targeted by the cops and they will try and trick you into traveling to meet a minor. The best way to not get arrested for Internet solicitation is to simply not chat with anyone absent proof of age. Everyone lies about age. Demand to see a photo ID before meeting with anyone. The Internet is a dangerous place and men are getting robbed, shot and killed showing up to meet what they think are prostitutes.
Nothing is real on the Internet….Nothing.
When the cops lie on the Internet, there is no consequence.
If you lie, your lie can get you arrested.
If you chat with a minor, even if you are lying, you put yourself at risk.
OBSCENE COMMUNICATION USE COMPUTER SOLICIT PARENT GUARDIAN CONSENT
TRAVEL TO MEET AFTER USING COMPUTER
LEWD LASCIVIOUS BEHAVIOR – VICTIM AGE 12 TO 16
OBSCENE COMMUNICATION USE COMPUTER TO SEDUCE, SOLICIT, LURE CHILD
ABUSE OF A CHILD WITHOUT GREAT BODILY HARM
USE OF A COMPUTER TO SOLICIT A PARENT TO COMMIT SEX ACTS WITH A CHILD
TRAVELING TO SEDUCE/SOLICIT/ENTICE A CHILD TO COMMIT A SEX ACT.
TRANSMISSION OF MATERIAL HARMFUL TO MINORS (SENDER AND RECIPIENT IN STATE).
ATTEMPTED LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS BATTERY (VICTIM 12 OR OLDER LESS THAN 16).
UNLAWFUL USE OF A TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION DEVICE
TRAVEL TO MEET A CHILD FOR SEX
INCLUDING CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY
USING A COMPUTER TO SEDUCE, ENTICE OR SOLICIT A CHILD AND TRAVELING TO MEET A MINOR TO ENGAGE IN UNLAWFUL SEXUAL CONDUCT
Hundreds of men are arrested and accused of being potential pedophiles for supposedly soliciting children over the Internet or with smartphones. They are often charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex or transmission of indecent images. Most of these so called crimes are actually created by the police running sophisticated Internet sex stings. The police regularly entrap unsuspecting men who had no intention of having contact with a minor. The consequences of a conviction are horrible and State prison is called for under the Florida Sentencing Guidelines
Read these blogs and learn the truth about how these stings are conducted. He has been representing victims of these stings as far back as the TV show “To catch a predator”. Not all criminal defense lawyers have experience with these types of cases. If you are speaking with a defense attorney, demand a list of the sex sting clients he has actually represented. Demand to see the lawyer’s actual results. Many lawyers claim to have sex sting experience. Few actually do.
There are defenses to Sex Sting cases
There may be a good defense to your case. Every case is unique and underlying circumstances vary. Police entrapment is one of the most common. The police may have violated the law or ICAC standards and procedures. The police may have searched your home, your computer or your telephone without a search warrant. The police may have illegally accessed your computer with a secret program. The police may have tricked you into a confession. The police may have lied about the age of the chatter or sent a photograph of an adult to lure and seduce you. When your life is at stake…..Experience, Knowledge and Dedication Counts
Call an experienced sex sting defense lawyer and an attorney who is prepared to take sex sting cases to trial if necessary. Explore all your options.
In the latest Osceola County sex sting, ten men were arrested. Fortunately, the State Attorney’s office and the Judges in Osceola seem to treat men arrested in these stings more fairly than other jurisdictions. As a sex sting lawyer, I track the sentences men receive throughout Florida. The sentences vary greatly. Judges are becoming more and more aware of the tactics the police use in baiting men into these compromising situations.
In the latest sting, undercover police detectives posted ads on adult sites pretending to be a father with a 14 year old daughter. The undercover chatters pose as a father who wants someone to have sex with his daughter. It amazes me that men are still falling for this bait. There are no real fathers or mothers that want some man to come and teach their daughter about sex. Such ads are always the police. I have seen the police run other ads where they pose as a adult woman who wants a man to have sex with her minor sister. These types of ads are also deceptive. No real sister wants anyone to have sex with her little sister.
On a positive note, the judges in Osceola, realizing what the police are doing are in most cases not imposing prison on the men who fall for this type of entrapment. In Osceola, as opposed to places like Manatee County or Duval County, often the judges sentence people to community control (house arrest) or probation. Sadly if they plead to a sex charge, they still become a registered sex offender. In these types of cases, in the past, I have been successful in negotiating a plea to a non sex offense like attempted child abuse or unlawful use of a two way communication device. In Osceola, at least the prosecutors and the Courts take a common sense approach. For that I commend them. I have handled a lot of sex sting cases in Florida and wish more of the judges would recognize what the police are really doing.
Just as I predicted, the State (Bill Eddins ,State Attorney for Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton County in Florida) announced the arrest of 22 men in the latest Okaloosa sex Sting operation.
This one was captioned Operation Undertow and targeted men in the Pensacola area.
It is more of the same tactics where the police post ads on Craigslist looking for unsuspecting men they can bait and switch and talk into meeting with fictional children. They again used the classic bait words like “taboo” and pretended to be women looking for some man to “mentor their daughter”. They also used the classic bait phrase “I am very inexperienced” and suggested group sex scenes. I never cease to be amazed that men, year after year, fall for the same bait.
It has been about a year since the last Okaloosa sex sting. I would be willing to bet they run one in the near future. Sadly, in the last few stings I looked at, the undercover operations seemed to ensnare young men with mental disabilities. If you are a parent and have a son with a learning deficit, even if he is an adult, you need to monitor his Internet access. Young men with mental disabilities are the low hanging fruit for the police entrapment techniques.
The police also frequently run ads on Craigslist, pretending to be mothers who want someone to teach their daughters about sex.
That is ridiculous. There are no real mothers that would ever do that. No real mother would ever want her child to hook up with an adult. It is a crime for a mother to do that.
It is a crime to hook up with a child. Do not commit a crime. Do not participate in a crime.
It should be everyone’s goal to protect children and although the police have good intentions, their tactics leave a lot to be desired.
The real predators know better than to go on Craigslist Casual Encounters, and they know that any ad that even hints or pretends to be a young girl looking for experience, or sex, is really a police sting ad.
The best way to not get arrested is to not commit a crime.
Never, no never, interact with anyone on the Internet that pretends to be 13 or 14 years old. Do not let temptation or curiosity get the best of you. Many lonely men drinking and sitting at home alone get sucked into saying stupid stuff on the Internet.
It is a second degree felony to travel to meet a minor for sex.
It is also a crime to send a penis pic to a minor.
Do not do it. Do not commit a crime.
Some of the recent sex stings also target child pornography.
I recently learned that the FBI actually took over a child porn site and ran it for a while allowing people to get kiddie porn from the site. Federal Courts are now looking into that.
If you are talking to someone on the Internet and they even hint that they are underage, break off contact immediately.
Do not try and be a vigilante. Let the police do their job. Hopefully the police monitor Craigslist and if they see a child there they will do something like contacting her parents. If there is any real mother out there trying to get someone to mentor or teach her child about sex, hopefully, the police will arrest her. The Internet is a dangerous place. We should all do our part to protect children. Parental controls on the computer is a huge first step. As a sex sting lawyer, my goal is to help people prevent crime. Crime prevention is the answer, not the creation of sex predators out of innocent men. Never, no never, email, text, skype or instant message a minor. There are plenty of adult women who want sex. Stick to adults and leave the kids alone. They don’t call it jail bait for nothing.
What ICAC and the various police agencies are doing in entrapping innocent men is just plain wrong. Everyone is being misled into believing that these types of stings are making the Internet safe for kids. This is absolutely not true. The police are destroying lives, and making innocent gullible men sex offenders forever with their undercover operations.
In just this past month, over eighty men have been arrested in Florida in these sex sting operations. In every case the police publicly took credit for getting sex predators off the streets. It is a lie. As a sex sting lawyer, I see the actual evidence. I see the emails, the texts, the pictures and I hear the recorded phone calls. In almost every case, the men were not looking for kids. Sadly, most of the men have insecurities, mental deficits, disabilities or other conditions affecting their ability to make sound decisions. It is not fair for undercover police chatters to tempt men with enticing ads, sexy innuendo and invitations to travel. There is a world of difference between being weak and being a sex predator.
The Internet is a dangerous place. It is parent’s responsibility to keep kids off of it. In maybe one is a thousand cases is a real predator caught. Most of the time it is a man who was on an adult Internet dating site like Meetme.com or Craigslist Casual Encounters looking for adult companionship that gets sucked into chatting with an undercover cop. The truth is that it is the police that are the real sex predators. I have represented mentally challenged men, men who have never dated, men who are inexperienced and gullible, and men who have fallen for the police temptation. Weakness should not be a crime. The public has bought into a bill of goods when it comes to the propaganda put out by the various Sheriff’s departments on this issue. What we need is for the Media to expose the truth. Noah Pransky, a Tampa reporter did a good job of investigative reporting on this issue but nothing has been done lately by other news agencies. What the police say in their press releases, most of the time is one sided, and leaves out key details. They leave out the fact that they were on adult sites. They leave out the fact that they posed first as an adult. The leave out the fact they invited travel. They leave out the fact that they said, bring a condom. They make it sound like men are stalking kids when in truth, it is the police stalking weak men. This is just plain wrong.
Early this month the Manatee Florida Sheriff announced the arrest of 14 men. Just this week another Sting in the Daytona Deltona area claimed another thirteen victims and in the last two days, two more stings were announced in the Jacksonville area as well as South Georgia in Effingham and Chatham Counties. The Effingham sting ran for weeks and was called operation “summer heat”. In that one sixteen men in their twenties succumbed to the police entrapment techniques. That sting also roped in another thirteen men in their thirties and amazingly another seven in their forties. That is a total of four stings in less than two weeks. Law enforcement has found a way to create crimes, run up arrests and destroy lives. I would be willing to be out the eighty six men arrested, there were only a handful that ever had any intention of hooking up with anyone underage.Sex is the ultimate bait….Bait and Switch…That is why they call it jail bait
The police are scraping the bottom of the barrel now and arresting men with learning disabilities, developmental impairments and other mental deficits. The propaganda that they are “protecting the public from predators” is simply false. What amazes me is that eighty six men got talked into traveling to arrest locations. I have blogged on this issue over and over. As a sex crime lawyer I see how these arrests destroy families and lives.
The best way to not get arrested is to never communicate with anyone underage, period.
There are no young girls on the Internet that are looking for sex…Ever
If you hear the age 12, 13, 14 or 15 terminate all contact immediately
Nothing good will ever come of talking to a minor on the Internet.
If you have a friend or relative or son that spends time on the Internet, warn them to never communicate with a minor. In my opinion the police should focus on educating teenagers to the dangers. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
It is always a trap….There are no real underage girls….Do not even think about it…do not do it.
Everyone’s goal is the protection of children…My goal is to protect people from police abuse