The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with multiple other law enforcement agencies in Florida, has made several arrests connected to an internet/traveler sting. According to an article in The Florida Times Union, four men have been arrested this week on sex charges in Jacksonville. This is the tail-end of the arrests, according to the report. Eleven arrests were made in July after the sheriff’s office conducted “Operation Blue Hawk”. Typically, detectives pose as either a boy or a girl, between twelve and fourteen years of age, asking to meet up. When the man appears at a time and location certain, they are usually arrested on the spot for soliciting a minor, traveling to meet a minor, and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. All of these Duval sex charges are felonies. One of the men allegedly involved in this sting possessed child pornography when arrested.
When police set up these stings, they have their act together. All communications with a subject are saved, including emails, direct messages, texts and phone calls. When the suspect comes to the location set up by the detectives, they are immediately arrested when they walk in the door. All electronic devices are taken from them, including their cell phones and computers. The phones and computers are searched and if any questionable images or videos are found, a new charge will be added. Under Florida law, if you seduce, lure or entice a child, or someone you believe to be a child, to commit illegal sexual conduct, this is a third degree felony. In addition to facing up to five years in prison, you are facing being labeled a sex offender, forever. Traveling to meet the minor is also a third degree felony, punishable the same way. The one felony associated with these stings that is not a “sex” charge is unlawful use of a two-way communication device. This is also a felony in Florida. The one man in this sting has an additional charge of possession of child pornography. Child pornography is defined as any image showing a minor engaged in a sex act.
If arrested in a traveler sex sting, it is imperative to seek the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable Jacksonville sex crime lawyer. Not every case is the same. Mitigation can be presented to the state attorney’s office to possibly have the charges reduced or even dropped in the right circumstance.