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Man charged with internet sex crime

It used to be that the defense of entrapment typically involved a face-to-face encounter with an undercover agent. But times have changed, and so has the evidence. In recent years, those charged with an internet sex crime have seen instant messages, text messages, e-mails, pictures and webcam images used against them.

Today's story is another example of that trend in Florida and across the country. Federal prosecutors have charged a man with using an internet website, Backpage.com, to run a nationwide sex trafficking ring. The man allegedly used the online classifieds website to solicit customers for his sex business.

In Florida, solicitation is commonly referred to as a commercial sex act induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years. In this case, federal prosecutors say the man was a pimp who used coercion to force women to act as sex workers.

The man also hasn't fared well in the pre-trial proceedings. Although the man sought release on bail before his pending trial, a United States District Judge recently denied that request. The judge reportedly denied the request for public safety reasons, regarding the evidence against the man as both substantial and indicating a propensity for wide travel and violence. The judge may have also questioned the man's likelihood of appearing for the trial.

Most punishments for prostitution and solicitation include substantial jail time, large fines and sex offender registration. Yet for many charged with prostitution or solicitation, the evidence is often circumstantial, gathered during routine sting operations conducted by law enforcement agencies. If you are facing this type of charge, you need an experienced attorney by your side.

An attorney can advise you on any possible defenses, such as entrapment. An attorney can also be your advocate during all stages of the proceeding and help you seek release on bail before your trial.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Judge: Suspected pimp must be jailed before trial," June 4, 2012

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