Defense Against Charges of Traveling to Meet a Minor in Florida
Skilled attorney protects clients accused of solicitation
In recent years, Florida legislators and law enforcement agencies have made a concerted effort to prevent use of our family-friendly environs to carry on sexual activity with minors. State law in fact prohibits adults traveling to meet minors for illicit purposes. People prosecuted for this offense are at risk of losing their liberty and having their reputations ruined.. At The Law Offices of Tad A. Yates, P.A., we believe that every accused person is entitled to a vigorous defense. Mr. Yates provides aggressive representation for clients facing sex offense charges that could ruin their lives. He draws on decades of experience to challenge prosecutors on every element of their case as he works tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome.
How Florida's traveling to meet a minor statute works
Under Florida law, it is illegal to travel or even attempt to travel any distance for the purpose of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, after using the internet or any electronic device to seduce, lure, entice, or solicit that minor to engage in the activity. The following are the elements the prosecution must prove:
- The accused used an electronic device.
- While using the device, the accused attempted to persuade a minor to have sexual contact.
- After the communication, the accused or an agent of the accused traveled from one point to another.
- The travel was for the purpose of meeting the minor for sexual contact.
These additional factors affect the law’s interpretation:
- The minor does not have to have been a minor in fact. It is enough for the accused to believe that the person with whom the communication took place was under 18 years of age. Therefore, cops posing as children on the internet qualify.
- The travel does not have to cross state lines. It can take place entirely within Florida.
- Travel is deemed to occur even if the accused sends someone else to pick the child up or asks the child’s guardian to drop the child off.
The accused can argue as a defense that the main elements of the crime have not been proved. For example, the travel has to be for the purpose of sex. If the accused has another lawful reason to go meet the child, that element is not met. Also, the accused must have attempted to seduce the child. If the child made an offer of sex which the accused accepted, the accused did not solicit sex, so that element is not satisfied.
Penalties for traveling to meet a minor in Florida
The crime of traveling to meet a minor is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, up to 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine. It is defined as a Level 7 offense, which means a judge must impose a minimum 21 months in prison. Authorities can charge each separate use of a computer, internet service, online service or electronic device as a separate offense. Prosecutors often threaten multiple counts to leverage a plea deal. Traveling to meet a minor is a sex crime, so a person convicted will be required to register as a sex offender upon probation. Furthermore, a conviction is not eligible for expunction. Finally, depending on the circumstances, you could find yourself facing even harsher penalties if authorities bring federal charges. With so much at stake, you must retain the best criminal defense counsel available.
Contact a proven defense lawyer for clients accused of traveling to meet a minor in Orlando
The Law Offices of Tad A. Yates, P.A. represents clients accused of sex offenses in Orlando and vicinity. To retain proven counsel, call today at 407-608-7777 or contact us online.