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Florida sting results in arrest of 35 alleged sex offenders

Florida authorities recently announced that they arrested 35 alleged sex offenders in Pinellas County.

The sting was actually a collaborative effort, involving the local police, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Beginning on a recent Thursday and continuing over the weekend, investigators posing as minors between the ages of 13 and 15 sought out illicit conversations on over two dozen online sites, including AOL chat rooms and Craig’s List. 

The online exchange would continue until undercover officers had enough evidence to make an arrest for an Internet sex crime or traveling to meet a minor. Typically, that involved the chat recipient making definitive plans to meet with someone he believed to be under the age of 18. When that suspect arrived at the designated location, officers were waiting to make the arrest.

Although readers may take comfort in law enforcement efforts aimed at crime prevention, the suspects arrested in this sting seem to already have been deemed guilty, at least in the opinion of location officials. Specifically, the Pinellas Sheriff openly described each of the defendants as predators.

A sex crimes attorney knows how difficult it may seem for an accused sex offender to receive fair treatment from prosecutors and local officials. Prosecutors may unfairly classify all sex crimes together, perhaps under a one size fits all mentality. Prosecutors may be equally unwilling to even consider alternative sentencing or plea bargaining options, denying accused sex offenders any potential for rehabilitation.

Yet sex offenders are not all the same, and an attorney that specializes in sex crimes may be able to present evidence demonstrating the unique aspects to a particular defendant’s case.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, “Authorities arrest 35 in Pinellas child predator sting,” Laura C. Morel, Jan. 27, 2014

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