Here we go again. Sheriff Keith McKeithen of Bay County in Panama City, Florida, just announced the arrest of 16 men calling them “dirtbags” and talking about how law enforcement was preventing deaths and bodies being found. This is not even remotely true and once again just grandstanding.
This latest operation, “Operation Mirage”, an ICAC dog and pony show, was the result of the combined efforts of a number of law enforcement agencies. Sadly, these operations rarely catch real sex predators but instead entrap young men on adult websites, looking for adults. The sheriff stated that they were monitoring websites looking for men targeting children. The truth is that law enforcement is posting on adult websites trying to trick men into texting, sexting and emailing with undercover officers who then switch to age to 14 or 15. As a Sex Sting lawyer, I have handled over 3 dozen of these cases and know first hand what law enforcement is really does.
The Public is being mislead
What generally is not disclosed to the public are the real methods and techniques used by the undercover cops. They post as adults on adult sites. They put up adult profiles. They are masters at luring introverted young men into compromising situations. They are masters at luring introverted young men into compromising situations. In truth and in fact, they are the ones doing the luring and seducing. The general public never hears or sees what is really happening in these sting operations. The public is being brainwashed into thinking there is an epidemic of child solicitation on the Internet. There is an epidemic of entrapment by misguided law enforcement officials.
Follow my blog to learn the truth. Follow up on the Court cases. Learn and speak the truth.
If you or a loved one have been arrested read this
All lawyers are not created equal. Experience, knowledge and qualifications vary.
Unfortunately, we live in a world of advertising and often what you read or see is simply not true. The Internet is loaded with ads from criminal defense lawyers that claim to have experience handling sex crimes. Some lawyers simply run ads and then refer cases to other attorneys to do the actual work and appear in Court. Experience really does make an enormous difference in getting good results and in hiring a lawyer you need to really investigate qualifications, background and the track record for getting good results. Check for verified Bar Association complaints. Some lawyers claim to be “local” although they really are not. Just like with the lawyer ads you see on TV, you need to read the fine print, except, there is no fine print. When you have a serious problem, you need to talk to the lawyer himself, not relay messages or speak with some operator. You do not need a referral service, you need a real lawyer
There are a number of advertising and referral companies that provide listings for lawyers. Lawyers pay for placement on these services and buy their way to the top. When you Google search under a particular category, the first three listings at the top of the page are paid ads that were purchased. The ads on the right are also purchased advertisements. As you scroll down you will find other lawyer listings. Go to the actual web pages for these lawyers. Read them carefully. Any lawyer who claims to be the “best” is simply ego driven. There is no such thing as the “best’ lawyer. Depending on the type of case, depending on where the case is filed, depending on the particular experience and expertise and depending on the particular background of the lawyer certain lawyers may be better for a particular case than others. Call or meet with the lawyer personally
Sex crime cases are incredibly difficult. Jurors start off prejudiced against you. Prosecutors have zero tolerance and often judges, as humans, seem harsh. In handling sex crime defense, experience is a must. There is no substitute for years and years of hands on negotiating, actual jury trials and courtroom appearances. Just as with a mechanic for your car, what you are paying for is the lawyer who knows what screw to turn and how far to turn it. They cannot teach that in books and that skill comes only with time in the pit. When you interview a lawyer, ask yourself. Is this the person I want standing beside me in Court, defending my life and future? Hiring a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertising or puffing. Do your homework!
They just keep coming. The Stings keep running week after and apparently the men keep falling for the same bait and switch police tactics. There were two combined operations in central Florida. Operation Cyber Summer and Operation Safe Summer netted a total of 30 men between the ages of 17 and 75 once again including suspects from Seminole County and other nearby Orlando areas, and one from as far away as Palm Beach. Many arrested on Sex Offender Probation Violations
A new wrinkle added was a coordinated law enforcement effort where investigators did what they refer to as compliance checks, doing home visits on registered sex offenders and men on sex offender probation. The deputies, FDLE agents and probation officers checked cell phones and tablets for suspicious or illegal activity. If you are a registered sex offender or are on probation there are certain restrictions on what you can and cannot do. People on probation do not have the same rights and expectations of privacy as others. Some offenders are not allowed to have computers, smart phones and or access to the Internet. Each case and each defendant is different but the police arrested 19 men on technical violations unrelated to actual new contacts with minors. Sex Offender Probation is sometimes a terrible trap and is extremely difficult to successfully complete. In the perfect world probation leads to rehabilitation. In the real world they want you to fail
The truth is that if you are on sex offender probation, don’t screw up on anything.
You have to be familiar with all of the conditions of registration and follow them strictly. Law enforcement is just looking for a reason to put you in jail. Some Sheriffs base their re-election on getting good press hammering sex offenders and getting good press. Dot every “I” and cross every “t” when it comes to your sex offender registration form. Know the details of sex offender probation and follow them to the letter. If you get rearrested or have a violation in the process, call a sex sting lawyer.
A man was arrested in Douglas County Colorado back in April of 2015. The Douglas County District attorney dropped the case when he proved that he was communicating on the Internet with what was represented to be a 24 year old woman in a profile on an adult site. Even though the case was dismissed the Parker police department still posted his arrest. Now the man seeks an apology. Fat chance he will get one. The police in the Internet sex stings will never admit they were wrong. Fortunately the defendant in the Colorado case had screenshots to prover that he thought he was communicating with an adult. I had a Pinellas County case last year where the police posted and chatted as an adult, and it was only when the man drove 250 miles and showed up that they finally mentioned age. The latest bait and switch
The latest tactic for the police is to post on the adult sites and engage men in chat. They will then mention that they have a little sister who is fourteen years old or in some cases a niece that is underage. The undercover chatters will even send a picture of the fictitious sister. They make it appear that the younger girl needs to “learn about sex’ and the older sister is helping her. In the real world this simply never happens. These are all police sex stings. If you encounter someone on Craigslist, an adult, and they even remotely hint of sex with a younger relative that is underage, terminate all contact, flag the ad and walk away. If you feel that you may be under investigation for chatting with an under cover ICAC chatter call and speak to a criminal defense attorney with experience in sex sting operations defense. The best way to avoid getting arrested is to simply not do anything even remotely illegal. There are no real young girls on the Internet that want to learn about sex only experienced under cover cops. It is always the police trying to entrap an innocent man into doing something he would never do. Internet Sex Sting cases do have defenses
Sex sting cases are tough but not impossible to defend. Some criminal defense attorneys simply do not understand anything but plea bargaining and will encourage people who really do have defenses to accept a plea to State prison, sex offender registration and sex offender probation. Before a person agrees to go to State prison, all of the defenses should be explored. As an experienced sex crimes lawyer, I have handled dozens of the sex sting cases and even ones that seemed impossible have been resolved with lesser offenses and lesser sentences. Never give up hope and I encourage you to seek a second opinion. There may be something that an inexperienced defense lawyer may have overlooked.
If you or a loved one has been arrested feel free to call my office in Sarasota for a confidential free consultation. Call 941 366 3506 Aiken, O’Halloran and Associates