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Sex crimes and the Internet

Readers may have heard about a recent sting operation by Florida authorities. There may be several reasons why the incident was so newsworthy. The arrest was large-scale, involving 22 individuals. However, other media coverage seemed to focus on the employment of three of arrested individuals: They are allegedly Walt Disney World employees.

The arrest reflected the collaborative efforts of several Florida agencies, including the Lake County sheriff’s cybercrimes unit. Undercover detectives posed either as children or as parents in different chat forums. When communication was established with an individual suspected of seeking sex with a minor, the undercover detectives encouraged the suspect to meet them in person at a designated meeting place. Of course, authorities were waiting at that location, and the suspect was arrested as soon as he or she arrived.

An attorney that specializes in sex crimes understands why undercover agents needed to arrange a meeting location with the suspects. The offense of traveling to meet a minor has several elements, including an Internet solicitation for sex with a child under the age of 18, and actual travel to a designated location for the purpose of having illegal sexual conduct with the minor.

An individual accused of the offense of traveling to meet a minor may feel intimidated into confessing to the charges, even if there may be available defenses or a misunderstanding as to the Internet communications. Indeed, prosecutors and law enforcement officials that have gone through the effort of a large-scale sting operation may be invested in securing a criminal conviction. However, every defendant is entitled to fair criminal procedures and a fair trial. An attorney can help protect those rights.

Source: CBS 12, “Florida Authorities Arrest 22 In Child Sex Sting Including 3 Disney Employees,” Michele Wright, Feb. 14, 2014

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