Defending Solicitation of a Minor Charges
A recent sting operation in Okaloosa County resulted in the arrest of 16 individuals on charges stemming from allegations that they were soliciting minors for sex. According to the Navarre Press, the investigation was undertaken by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Marshal Service Fugitive Task Force, members of the North Florida Internet Crimes against Children Task Force and several state law enforcement agencies.
Operation Wolf Hunter took place between October 21, 2015 and October 27, 2015. Law enforcement agents visited various Internet chat rooms and searched for individuals they suspected of soliciting minors. The investigation wrapped up with 16 arrests and various charges regarding sexual crimes with minor victims.
One of the arrests involved a Gulf Breeze man, who is reportedly a registered sex offender. He allegedly traveled for the purpose of having sexual relations with an individual he believed to be a 14-year-old female. According to the report, the suspect was allegedly instructed to meet the minor at a specific location. When he arrived, he was arrested and charged with “obscene communication, computer pornography, and using a computer service to seduce or solicit a child.” Among other parties arrested were two employees at a Catholic school in Fort Walton Beach and several residents of Panama City.
The men arrested in the operation face various types of sex crime charges, including:
- Using an online service to lure/entice a minor – Under Florida law, it is unlawful for any person to knowingly use a computer online service of Internet service to seduce, solicit, or lure a child or a person believed to be a child to commit any illegal act or engage in sexual conduct. This charge is classified as a Class 3 felony, with a possible penalty of up to five years in prison and/ or a $5000 fine upon conviction.
- Traveling to meet a minor – This charge applies when a person travels any distance within or from outside of the state for the purpose of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct. The state classifies this as a Class 2 felony and a conviction can result in up to 15 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
Defending your Case
The conviction of a sex crime can prove devastating to your family, livelihood, reputation and freedom. These crimes can carry a lifelong stigma in the form of a sex offender designation. This is why it is vitally important to hire an lawyer who is knowledgeable about sex crime allegations and capable of mounting an aggressive defense to such emotionally charged allegations. To successfully prosecute a solicitation of child for sex charge, the state must show that the defendant did in fact seduce the minor. Your lawyer may attack this assertion and create reasonable doubt about the applicability of the statute.
In defending your case, your lawyer may also use the defense of entrapment. This occurs when a law enforcement officer is working undercover to identify alleged perpetrators. If the officer oversteps his or her boundaries and repeatedly persists that you act in a manner that you other reluctant to act in, entrapment may apply
If you are facing sex crime charges involving a minor, contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC to discuss your case. Call today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation in Miami.