June 22, 2012
Whittel & Melton 1-866-608-5LAW (5529) – Florida Sex Crimes Attorneys
A 31-year-old Port St. Lucie middle-school teacher faces up to life in prison after being convicted of one count of online enticement of a minor and five counts of possession of child pornography.
He was arrested in Kissimmee in January in an Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Internet sex sting after he apparently responded to an online ad offering sex with a child.
The south Florida middle-school teacher apparently exchanged a series of emails, phone calls and text messages with what he believed to be a 13-year-old girl’s mother, who was really an undercover member of the Internet sex task force formed by the Sheriff’s Offices in Osceola, Lake and Sumter counties along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Evidence presented at the man’s five-day trial that ended this week showed the man apparently responded to the online offer within 30 minutes of its posting.
In addition, he also faces mandatory firing by the St. Lucie County School Board.
His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10 in Fort Pierce.
Florida law enforcement officers use the Internet as a resource to lure and identify alleged sexual predators. By performing Internet sex stings, police attempt to aggressively target individuals seeking sexual services from children. However, these undercover sex traps often involve complicated and technical issues that can sometimes amount to innocent people being labeled as sexual offenders through what is known as police entrapment.
Numerous sting operations are conducted on a daily basis by state and federal law enforcement officers who impersonate children or their guardians looking to arrange sexual encounters. Undercover detectives may ask unsuspecting adults to send them pictures, possibly even pornographic photos and from there attempt to arrange a meet up. Once the person sends an illegal picture or agrees to meet with a person believed to be a minor, investigators pursue making an arrest.
Police are allowed to pose as children or guardians of underage teens in Internet chat rooms or place ads suggesting sex on social networking sites or advertising web sites like Craig’s List. They can even engage in communications and agree on a meeting place, but they cannot entrap someone. Not all people arrested in undercover sex stings are victims of entrapment. However, when a person is coerced by detectives to commit a crime that they had no previous intentions of committing, they may be considered a victim of entrapment.
Sex crimes allegations are quite serious, and those resulting from Internet stings can permanently affect your reputation and freedom. It is important to take action immediately so that you have the chance to relay your side of the story. The Florida Sex Crimes Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can thoroughly evaluate any witness testimony or evidence and make sure your rights remain protected. We work to stay a step ahead of the prosecution in order to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely.
If you or someone you love has been charged with a sex crime in Florida as a direct result of an undercover police sting, contact the Florida Sex Crimes Lawyers at Whittel & Melton online or call us statewide and toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).