May 26 2018
For the past week the sheriff here in Sarasota has been running an Internet Sex Sting targeting gay men. There have been 18 arrests that have mostly been not reported on the official records. When the stings are running and people are being arrested, the sheriff and the clerk of Court do not allow the information to get out. This makes it really tough for the guys that get arrested to contact relatives or bondsmen. You have a right to an attorney, but if you are sitting in the Sarasota jail, they dont make contacting an attorney very easy. That is why initially, most of the men have the public defender appointed. As the men are bonded out, those that can afford it seek private defense attorneys.
So far, only one out of eighteen men has been able to hire their own personal attorney.
The right to an attorney is an important constitutional right. For that right to mean anything at all, it is important for the attorney to know what he is doing and important the he be able to effectively represent his client. In that regard, experience is a big deal. Not all lawyers handle a lot of sex crime cases. Not all lawyers really understand how these sex stings are run by the police. I have done over 40 of the sex sting cases all over FloridaIt is critical for the lawyer to understand the law when it comes to entrapment. It is critical for the attorney to understand the State Attorneys policy when it comes to sex stings. It is critical for the attorney to understand the Internet, the computer programs and the methods the police use to lure unsuspecting men into compromising situations.
Sadly, many of the men arrested sometimes are mentally challenged. Sometimes it may rise to the level of legal incompetence (if they have autism) and sometimes it is a mitigating factor, depending on the degree of the intellectual disability. The lawyer absolutely has to understand the law and the procedure when it comes to raising legal issues with respect to incompetency.
It is critical that family and friends not abandon those charged in internet sex stings. You cannot believe what you see and hear on television when the press release is finally made. The Sheriff will always say that we are keeping the children of Sarasota safe. What they do not report is the fact that most of the time, they are creating a crime, not detecting or preventing one. There were 16 men arrested in Lee County (Ft. Myers) and once again, it was a gay sting. This has to be a bad week for the gay community with 34 men being arrested