Twenty-One Suspects Facing Charges after a Child Sex Sting
A recent undercover sting operation resulted in the arrest of 21 Florida men on charges of obscene communication and unlawful use of a communication device. As reported by News 4 Jacksonville, Operation Panther was undertaken by several agencies, including the Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) and the Florida Bureau of Investigations. For five days, agents posed as children on the internet and by telephone. They also allegedly made plans to meet the arrestees in person. During their internet conversations, law enforcement officials claim that they came across more than 2,000 individuals who showed interest in talking with an underage party about sex. About 90 of those people allegedly communicated an interest in meeting the child in public and 21 allegedly traveled with the intention of actually meeting with a child.
When the accused parties arrived at the alleged meeting point, they were greeted by law enforcement agents and arrested. According to the News 4 article, several of the men have previous convictions, including a lewd and lascivious molestation conviction and a federal weapons charge. Officials state that numerous men showed up with condoms and sexual paraphernalia. Law enforcement found rubber gloves and a bat, along with tarp and a rope, in the car of one accused individual.
The Laws in Florida
Any charge involving sexual relations with a minor comes along with various ramifications, especially when the arrest occurs in such a public manner. These men are currently facing state charges, but according to the article, federal charges may follow.
Use of a computer to make obscene communication to a minor is a felony violation under state law, along with traveling to meet a minor for an obscene purpose. The state commonly gives out these charges together for undercover sting operations.
- Traveling to meet a minor is a second degree felony, punishable by a possible prison term of 15 years and a fine up to $10,000.
- Improper use of a computer is a third degree felony, punishable by a possible five year prison term and a fine up to $5,000.
Florida law does not require the presence of an actual child for these criminal statutes to apply, which leaves considerable opportunity for deception and trickery on the part of law enforcement. With an experienced and aggressive lawyer, you can use the circumstances surrounding your arrest to fight the charges against you with a viable defense.
Even before any criminal proceedings begin, your life can be greatly impacted by the allegations against you. In the above referenced case, the names, ages and pictures of the arrested parties are pasted on the front page of the newspaper. This type of negative exposure can result in serious ramifications.
If you or a loved one is facing child sex charges, it is vitally important to contact a skilled lawyer in Miami. Call Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.