January 28, 2013
Plant City, FL – Authorities arrested eight men this weekend for allegedly traveling to meet minors for sex.
Officials with the Plant City Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement completed an undercover operation over the weekend where they pretended to be minors, usually 14 or 15 years old.
Detectives posted online ads and apparently communicated with the men through emails and text messages. A prearranged location was set up and the men were arrested by Plant City police officers as soon as they showed up.
The men were taken to the Orient Road Jail this weekend, each charged with one felony count of traveling to meet a minor for sex after using a computer.
The men detained range in age from 22 to 56.
Police claim one of the men sent links to pornographic photos and brought a camera with him to the meeting spot. The 23-year-old man faces 14 counts of transmission of material harmful to a minor and one count of attempted use of a child in a sexual performance.
It is considered illegal to use the Internet to arrange a meeting with a child under the age of 18 and then travel to the location with the intentions of engaging in sexual activity. Law enforcement agents are known for conducting undercover Internet traps in which they stage phony ads or engage in fake conversations posing as a minor in order to lure participants into setting up a meeting for sex. Once a suspect arrives at the predetermined location, they will be arrested immediately and charged with an Internet sex crime, such as traveling to meet a minor or soliciting a minor for sexual activity.
These crimes generally carry severe consequences that enforce mandatory time behind bars. Traveling to meet a minor is a second-degree felony in the state of Florida. This crime can be charged despite whether any sexual activity actually occurred. You can be convicted of traveling to meet a minor as long as prosecutors can prove you communicated online with what was believed to be a minor and that you arrived at a prearranged location to partake in sexual activity with a minor.
Many people arrested for this crime believe charges will eventually be dropped because no one was actually harmed. However, that is not true. Regardless of whether or not there is an actual victim, you could be facing a substantial amount of prison time. If you have been charged with traveling to meet a minor or any other sex crime involving the Internet in Florida, talk to a Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton online or call our Tampa office at (813) 221-3200. We can begin investigating any alleged online communications right away and establish a powerful defense. Don’t delay, contact us today statewide and toll-free at 866-608-5529.