The Polk County Sheriff’s conducted another criminal sting operation this past weekend in cooperation with the Plant City Police Department. This Polk sex sting operation was called “Operation Last Minute”. 14 men were arrested in this sting. The men were arrested for allegedly traveling to meet a minor, in this case the girls they traveled to meet were actually undercover police officers posing at 14 and 15 year old male and female children. “Operation Last Minute” was a joint operation conducted under the umbrella of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
Cyber crimes are targeted by law enforcement and are very serious crimes. They carry prison sentences and may result in an individual being classified as a sexual predator or sexual offender. If classified as a sexual predator or offender, the person must register with the state of Florida, with his or her local sheriff office twice a year, and limit where the person can live. The person also has to deal with the social stigma of being a sexual offender and often has trouble finding employment or a place to live.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is very aggressive in running these sex stings. The Polk Sheriff has run them on prostitution cases and similar Dateline “To Catch a Predator” cases in Polk recently. While Polk law enforcement was involved with the Plant City Police Department, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, these case will be prosecuted in Hillsborough county because it makes for a strong jurisdictional argument in criminal court. The statute allows for this to be a crime even though no actual children were involved in this law enforcement manufactured crime.
The men arrested in this case had no prior criminal history and were never in trouble with the law before. As usual, this “travel to meet a minor” sex sting operation was conducted by undercover detectives posted fictitious ads or profiles on various websites posing as children, or parents of children. Numerous men allegedly responded to the ads and then proceeded to chat online, email, text, and talk on the phone with the undercover detectives who posed as children online. Often, it is the undercover agents that initiate and solicit any sex talk or any involvement of children which can lead to an entrapment or lack of intent defense in these cases. In addition, there are proof problems for the police as the prosecution must prove who was on the other end of the conversation doing the texting or emailing.
The police allege the suspects solicited for sex acts, sent pornographic pictures of themselves, and asked for nude photos of the children to be sent to them. Fourteen men allegedly traveled to a house to engage in sexual activity with the juveniles.
What types of charges could these men be facing? Based on the last online sex sting by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the men are likely to be charged with the following sex crimes.
Attempted Capital Sexual Battery which is a capital felony. The sex crime occurs when a person 18 years of age or older who commits sexual battery upon, or in an attempt to commit sexual battery injures the sexual organs of, a person less than 12 years of age. This crime is punishable by up to life in prison. It can also result in the suspect being designated a Sexual Predator.
Travel or Traveling to Meet a Minor. These are the “Dateline – To Catch a Predator” cases. This crime is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in Florida state prison. This crime occurs when any person who travels for the purpose of engage in other unlawful sexual conduct with a child or with another person believed by the person to be a child after using a computer online service.
Obscene Communication – Use of Computer to Solicit Parent. This is a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to 3 years in Florida State Prison (FSP). This sex crime occurs when any person who knowingly uses a the internet to Solicit, lure, or entice a parent, of a child to consent to the participation of the child in a sex act.
Unlawful use of a two-way communications device. The crime occurs when a suspect uses a two-way communications device (a computer or phone) to facilitate the commission of any felony offense.
Due to the nature of the sex crimes the prosecutor takes these cases very seriously. In addition, the arrested person is subject to being classified as a Sexual Predator or a Sexual Offender and is subject to the Jimmy Ryce Act that could result in involuntary civil commitment of a suspect sentenced to a prison sentence.
When facing a serious sexual criminal charge, you need an aggressive attorney who has experience handling these types of criminal sex cases.
CALL NOW AND SPEAK TO AN EXPERIENCED SEX CRIMES ATTORNEY
WHO HAS HANDLED AND TRIED THESE TYPES OF CASES.
THOMAS C. GRAJEK 863-688-4606
Criminal defense lawyer handling all sex crimes in the State of Florida including sexual battery, sexual assault, lewd and lascivious, travel to meet a minor, and child molestation crimes.