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The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday that they arrested 23 men in an undercover sex sting targeting people using the Internet to meet children for sex.
A doctor and a U.S. Army reservist were two of the men arrested in the five-day undercover sting.
Police claim the 36-year-old reservist arranged to meet a woman and her 14-year-old child at an Ormond Beach home. He allegedly arrived with a teddy bear, two hydrocodone pills and a hand-written contract. The contract would apparently give the man permission to have sex with the 14-year-old girl.
According to reports, the 66-year-old semi-retired doctor arrived at the same decoy with two bottles of wine and Viagra pills.
The joint sting between Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and several other agencies used undercover officers who posed as children or parents of children on social network sites, chat rooms and various web sites. When conversations turned to sex, undercover officers invited the suspects, who ranged in age from 18 to 66, to the decoy house in Ormond Beach where they were arrested.
Police said most of the men arrested were from Volusia County, but some traveled from Belleview, Cape Canaveral and even Kingsland, Ga.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office conducted a similar sting in September 2011 that resulted in 15 arrests.
Undercover sex stings are conducted quite regularly and the State tends to prosecute these crimes seriously. Most of these undercover traps result in charges of traveling to meet a minor and/or Internet solicitation of a minor. After being placed under arrest for a sex crime stemming from an Internet sex sting, it is important to remain silent and request to speak with a sex crimes defense lawyer immediately. While you may think you can prove your innocence or help your situation by speaking with law enforcement, this is simply not true. Speaking to police or signing any documents without your attorney present can actually do more harm than good. Anything you say or sign your name to can be used against you as evidence in court. Because the penalties attached to sex crimes are so severe, it is best to not take any chances with your future and freedom. Traveling to meet a minor is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a conviction carries a mandatory minimum term of 21 months behind bars.
It is illegal in the state of Florida for any person to travel any distance for the purposes of meeting with a minor for sex. Understand that making arrangements with a child’s parent or guardian for sex through an Internet communication such as a chat room or e-mail is also considered unlawful. It is typical for undercover sex stings to involve detectives posing as children or parents of children online with the intentions of catching alleged predators looking to have sex with children. Once the conversation turns sexual, a meeting place is usually suggested. Once the suspect arrives at the designated location, he or she is immediately taken into custody.
While you may think that the evidence stacked against you is overwhelming, there are numerous defenses that can be applied depending on your unique situation. The Florida Sex Crimes Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can review the events leading up to your arrest and filter through any communications made between you and undercover agents to establish an effective defense strategy. Based on our findings, we may be able to convince prosecutors to dismiss the charges against you or greatly reduce them.
If you or a loved one has been arrested following an undercover sex sting in Florida, contact the Florida Sex Crimes Attorneys at Whittel & Melton online or reach us statewide and toll-free by dialing 866-608-5529.
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