A recent operation by the Saint Lucie County Sheriff’s Office netted 23 arrests of men who allegedly preyed on children online. According to the announcement made by Sheriff Ken Mascara, the sting was known as Operation: Guardian Angel and targeted participants on social media sites and other online venues. The suspects believed they were chatting with children between the ages of 12 and 16. Instead, Mascara said, they were conversing with detectives from the sheriff’s department and from the Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. To beat these charges, many of those caught in the sting will require the help of an experienced Saint Lucie child solicitation attorney to ensure the fairest outcome for their case.
A Wide Array of Suspects
The men arrested in the sting were apprehended when they agreed to a face-to-face meeting after engaging in explicit conversations with detectives posing as children. These individuals ranged in age from just 20 years old to 79 years of age. According to the Saint Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, the suspects were informed repeatedly during the conversations with the detectives that they were talking with minors. This did not prevent any of the 23 men arrested from arranging meetings with their online conversational partners and showing up at agreed-upon meeting places.
Charged with Felonies
The suspects face felony charges, including the following:
- Use of a computer to solicit or lure a child
- Lewd and lascivious behavior on a victim 12 to 16 years old
- Use of a two-way communications device to facilitate the commission of a felony
Conviction on the computer solicitation charge alone can potentially lead to as long as 15 years in jail and a lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender. These steep penalties are the best reason to seek the assistance of an experienced Saint Lucie criminal defense attorney to present an assertive defense.
An Uneven Playing Field
Florida state law allows for the arrest and conviction of suspects for preying on children even if no child was directly endangered or contacted. This can create an unfair situation for individuals who may not have intended to engage in these types of behaviors. The knowledge and experience of the detectives who pose as minors on these websites and social media venues can sometimes be overwhelming for individuals unfamiliar with these online communities. Enlisting the help of a qualified Saint Lucie computer solicitation attorney can provide added support for your case throughout the pre-trial and courtroom portions of these proceedings.
If you or someone you know is facing charges related to computer solicitation, contact a Saint Lucie computer solicitation attorney at Jonathan Jay Kirschner, Esq., & Associates immediately to begin preparing an aggressive defense against these felony charges. Call us at 772-489-8501 to schedule an initial consultation. We’re willing to take on the toughest cases to help you clear your name and protect your future.