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Charged with a sex crime in Florida? What you need to know

There is no doubt that facing criminal charges stemming from alleged sexual misconduct with a minor can be a traumatic and frightening experience. Many people who end up in this situation are first-time offenders who have no idea what to expect, what their rights are or how they might be able to defend themselves.

This lack of knowledge can work against a person who has been accused of serious sex crimes in Florida. There are state and federal agencies with extensive resources and information at their disposal, which can often give them a significant advantage when it comes to pursuing criminal charges. However, people who are targeted or arrested by law enforcement should remember that they have the right to speak with an attorney who can help them understand what has happened, what is at stake and how to proceed with a defense.

One of the most common or well-publicized tactics police use to arrest people for sex offenses is to conduct a sting operation. These can often consist of police officers acting or posing as a minor online and engaging in exchanges with men or women looking for companionship. In many cases, online conversations escalate to setting up an in-person meeting, which is when police often arrest the person who shows up. They can then pursue charges including online solicitation of a minor, traveling to meet a minor or other related offenses. If convicted, a person could be facing lengthy prison sentences, fines and the requirement to register as a sex offender.

But it is important to keep in mind that every situation can play out differently and every person who is arrested or under investigation is innocent until proven guilty. Having the support of a defense attorney can be very helpful in these situations, as an experienced attorney understands what to look for and how to craft a defense strategy.

It can be crucial to scrutinize every aspect of an arrest because it is possible that an officer has violated procedures designed to avoid entrapment. There have also been cases when charges were reduced or dismissed due to extenuating circumstances that played a role in a particular case. Identifying these factors can have a dramatic impact on what, if any, penalties a person may face.

Source: The Gainesville Sun, "Child-sex offenders: Who are they? How are they caught?" Chris Alcantara, May 24, 2014

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