Traveling to Meet a Minor
The criminal act of “traveling to meet a minor” is a serious offense in Florida. As a second-degree felony, it is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. However, simply being charged with this or any other crime is not tantamount to a finding of guilty. Depending upon the situation, the State may ultimately be unable to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, or you may be able to assert an effective defense. Tampa sex crime lawyer Will Hanlon has been defending people accused of many different types of sex crimes, drug crimes, and violent crimes for more than 20 years. He is here to help you understand the legal process and explore possible defenses under the facts of your particular case.
Under Florida Statutes § 847.0135(4), it is unlawful to travel within the State of Florida for the purpose of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with a child. It is also illegal to travel to Florida or from Florida for this purpose. An “attempt” to travel to meet a minor is also illegal, as is causing someone else to travel to meet a minor or even attempt to do so. It is not a requirement of the statute that the person whom the defendant seeks to meet is actually a minor, as long as the defendant believes that the person is a child based on information obtained from the internet or another electronic data transmission, such as a text message.Defenses to the Crime of Traveling to Meet a Minor
It is not unusual for law enforcement officers to set up “sting” operations in an attempt to combat the serious problem of pedophiles and child predators. Sometimes, however, the net is cast too widely, and innocent people who had no intent of engaging in criminal conduct get caught up in the operation. Although the mere fact that an undercover operative or law enforcement officer was involved in the detection or investigation of the alleged crime does not constitute a defense to the crime of traveling to meet a minor, the defense of entrapment may apply in some cases. Entrapment may be either subjective or objective, depending upon whether the police allegedly engaged in egregious conduct. In either case, the defendant must be able to offer proof to support the defense.
Constitutional defenses such as a violation of due process or a failure to advise the defendant of their right to remain silent in custody may also assist a defendant with securing a reduction in the charges brought by the State or possibly having the charges dropped. It is critical that the defendant act quickly in determining any defenses that they may be able to assert because a conviction of the crime of traveling to meet a minor is considered a felony in the second degree in Florida. A second-degree felony is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.Schedule a Consultation with a Sex Crime Attorney in Tampa
A conviction of any felony offense may create lifelong hardships for the defendant, and this is particularly true for sex crimes. A defendant convicted of traveling to meet a minor will probably spend the rest of their life as a registered sex offender, which not only is embarrassing but also has the potential to affect the defendant’s housing and employment opportunities for decades to come. This may happen even if the defendant never laid a hand on a minor and even if there in fact was no minor. Online sex sting operations are becoming increasingly common in the Tampa Bay region and elsewhere. If you have been arrested as part of such an operation or believe that you are under investigation, contact knowledgeable Tampa attorney Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law online or at 813-228-7095 for a consultation. He can also help people who need a prostitution defensecriminalattorneytampa attorney or assistance in fighting other sex crime charges.