Jacksonville police announced the arrests of 12 men accused of setting up a potential sexual encounter with what they thought was a child they chatted with online. But when the men arrived, they were greeted instead by police and arrested, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Detectives were pretending to be boys or girls, either 13 or 14, depending on the scenario, the newspaper reported. Several police agencies were involved in the sting, a relatively common tool police use that was popularized by the NBC Dateline show “To Catch a Predator.” And despite the familiarity with the show and that police routinely conduct these investigations, police continue to make similar arrests in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases such as this one.
There are several potential Jacksonville Sex Crimes Charges that police and prosecutors use in these cases. One is using the internet to seduce or solicit a child. That charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. Prosecutors can charge separately in this case, so each use of the internet, can be it’s own separate charge. So, for example, if there were three chat messages sent about setting up a time to get together and the defendant believes the person on the other end is a minor, the person could be charged with three counts. Another common charge for these Jacksonville Sex Crimes cases is traveling to meet a minor. That charge applies when someone travels within Florida or across state lines with the specific intent of meeting a child for sex. This Jacksonville Sex Crime is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison.
Pleading guilty to or being convicted of either charge would require the defendant to register as a sexual offender. In cases such as this were multiple people are caught in a sting on similar charges, usually a deal from the state won’t get any better than what the first pleads guilty to. Defendants want to get an idea of the time others are getting before they agree to a deal, but there can sometimes be a benefit to being the first one in. In a similar sting in St. Johns County in 2012, those who took their cases to trial ended up with significantly longer prison sentences. That can be the case, however, in any Jacksonville Criminal Defense case, not just those involving a sting and multiple defendants. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes attorney has represented many clients who are among several defendants in a case, and will help you or your loved one understand the charges and let you decide how to proceed in the case.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.