Florida readers of this blog likely have previously read about the offense of traveling to meet a minor, a charge that alleges that a defendant traveled to meet a person under the age of 18 for a sexual encounter. A recent story illustrates that the amount of travel involved in such an allegation may sometimes cross state lines.
The 42-year-old woman, who lives in New Jersey, met a 16-year-old Florida boy while playing a game on Facebook called YoVille. That online encounter progressed to emails, text messages, phone calls, and letters. Eventually, the woman agreed to meet the boy in person.
However, authorities allege that their meeting was more than just casual, and happened more than once. In two of their three meetings, prosecutors claim that the woman had sex with the boy. They have charged her with unlawful sexual activity with a minor and traveling to meet a minor for unlawful sexual contact.
The woman denies that she ever had sex with the boy, admitting only that she travelled to Gainesville to meet with him. However, the fact that she met the boy over the Internet and then traveled to meet him may mean that she has an uphill defense battle ahead of her. For example, even if prosecutors cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a sexual act occurred between the woman and boy, they may nevertheless argue that the woman’s actions amount to attempted lewd and lascivious conduct by a defendant.
With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, the woman might be able to convince jurors of alternate explanations for her winter visits to Florida. Perhaps the woman has other friends in the area, and was eager to have a vacation from New Jersey’s winter. Maybe she agreed to a meeting with the boy in an innocuous location like a coffeehouse. Factors like these can help personalize the otherwise cold and harsh allegations brought by prosecutors, while at the same time holding them to their legal burden of proof.
Source: actionnewsjax.com, “Woman charged with traveling to Florida to have sex with teen,” Feb. 27, 2013