Soliciting a minor to engage in sexual activity in Ft. Walton Beach is a felony. The expansion of the internet and social media has thrust this particular charge to the forefront of sexual offenses against children. More and more people are being arrested in Florida for solicitation of a child because of the popularity of television shows, such as “To Catch A Predator.” These shows depict law enforcement posing as a child on the internet to lure someone into requesting sexual favors.

If you or a loved one has been accused of using the internet, social media, Craigslist, or chat rooms to approach a minor, you need an attorney experienced in Fort Walton Beach cases for soliciting a child for sex using a computer on your side immediately.

Do not Talk to Law Enforcement if you are being investigated for Solicitation of a Minor in Ft. Walton Beach

sex offense defense attorneySexual offenses come with a stigma. It may feel like you’ve been found guilty before you’ve even seen a court room. The criminal justice system in Florida is supposed to protect the accused with a presumption of innocence, but it doesn’t feel like that does it?

You are facing a tremendous uphill battle.

We understand that you feel alone right now—but you don’t have to be. When you are ready to fight for your freedom, contact Flaherty & Merrifield. My name is Tim Flaherty and since 2001 I have been defending people accused of sexually related crimes. Brandy Merrifield is my partner. She has been working with me since 2007. Call Flaherty & Merrifield today for a free consultation at (850) 243-6097.

What is solicitation of a child in Ft. Walton Beach?

A minor is a child under the age of 18. Florida Statute 847.0135 defines prohibited use of a computer in connection with a minor as follows:

Any person who knowingly uses a computer online service, Internet service, local bulletin board service, or any other device capable of electronic data storage or transmission to:

(a) Seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice, a child or another person believed by the person to be a child, ….or the parent of a child…., to commit any illegal act, or to otherwise engage in any unlawful sexual conduct with a child or with another person believed by the person to be a child; …. commits a felony of the third degree.”

Further, any person who, while soliciting a child, misrepresents their age commits a second degree felony.

What is an electronic device?

So what does the statute mean by any other device? The legislators purposely left “any other device” open because technology is constantly changing. The legislature’s intent was to include any device that is capable of holding data. In addition to computers, this means cell phones, ipads, etc.

What are the penalties for Solicitation of a Minor in Ft. Walton Beach?

Solicitation of a child in Ft. Walton Beach is a Level 7 offense on the Florida Criminal Punishment Code Ranking Chart. A level 7 offense scores 56 points on a person’s scoresheet. That means that 1 conviction for solicitation of a child scores out to a mandatory prison sentence of 21 months.

  • The charge of solicitation of a child is a third degree felony which means you could face up to 5 years in prison in addition to a $5,000 fine.
  • If you misrepresent your age while soliciting a child it is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Every Electronic Interaction can be Another Charge Against You

Every interaction had with a minor to solicit for sexual favors can be added up against you. This means for every communication, even with the same person, you could face an additional solicitation count.

Defending Solicitation of a Child in Ft. Walton Beach

It seems hopeless. An arrest for soliciting a child automatically convicts you in the eyes of the public and you know you are facing a minimum of 21 months and up to 5-15 years in prison. Do not give up. In addition to sentencing mitigation and downward departure, there are defenses to these charges. Our job is to explore every option, every loop hole and every defense.

We will critically examine your case and make the State prove the charge against you. Listed below are some of the things you can expect from us in defending you against the charge of soliciting a minor:

  • Review all discovery and inconsistencies
  • Interview and depose witnesses
  • Question the State on how the electronic interaction started
    • Was it started by law enforcement?
    • Did law enforcement encourage you to commit the act of solicitation?
    • Did you have intent to solicit a child?
    • Did you use electronic communication actually seduce, solicit, lure or entice a child?
    • Is there evidence to support you tried to stop the interaction?
  • Evaluate your case for motions that may support your defense
  • Hear YOUR side and guide you to make the right decision for you

Have You Been Arrested For a Sex Crime in Florida?

If you've been arrested for a sex crime in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential case review.

Brandy Merrifield
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney