If you have been charged with Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sexual Purposes, you are facing a serious felony. You need advocates with experience and determination. Because of shows such as To Catch a Predator, these cases have received a lot of media attention.
Many popular dating sites have become perfect targets for undercover sting operations involving cops pretending to be minors seeking a sexual partner. Any communication between the undercover and the would-be target is recorded and detailed to support probable cause for a felony arrest. These computer stings are completely legal.
My name is Tim Flaherty. I am a Fort Walton Beach traveling to meet a minor defense lawyer. I’ve been defending clients accused of sexually related crimes in Fort Walton Beach since 2001. Brandy Merrifield is my partner. She has worked with me since 2007. If you are scared and don’t know what to do, give Brandy or I a call at (850) 243-6097. We would be glad to answer your questions and show you how we would defend your case.
What is Traveling to Meet a Minor in Ft. Walton Beach?
Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sexual Purposes under Florida Statutes § 847.0135 is a two-step felony charge and is found where a Defendant, a person over the age of 18, while using a computer, internet service, or device capable of electronic communication seduces, solicits, lures or entices a minor, a person under the age of 18, or the parent of a minor, to commit unlawful sexual conduct.
The second step is the Defendant’s travel to the minor for the unlawful sexual conduct.
This means that talking to a minor, a person believed to be a minor, or even an undercover officer portraying themselves as a minor, while conversing about any sexual activity or inappropriate contact can leave you vulnerable for this felony charge.
By the time the Defendant has communicated with the minor and makes plans to travel to the minor, the act of travel is enough to give law enforcement probable cause to make an arrest.
What type of sexual activity is enough for this charge?
Sexual conduct is broad in scope and can include actual or simulated intercourse, masturbation, actual or lewd exhibition of genitals, physical contact with a minor’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks or breasts or oral copulation.
What are the potential penalties if convicted for Traveling to Meet a Minor?
You could receive up to 15 years in prison if convicted. The minimum sentence, if you are convicted, for this offense is 21 months with the Department of Corrections. This means that upon conviction, even if the lowest possible sentence is handed down, you face 21 months in prison. Further, you will be required to register as a sexual offender for LIFE.
Defending a Traveling to Meet a Minor Case
We learned a long time ago that no case is hopeless and every client is worth fighting for, no matter what you are accused of doing.
We will start with a thorough review of the entire case. We will want to see any chat logs, text messages, emails, etc. We will be looking at a couple different issues:
- Was there entrapment?
- Was it clear that the law enforcement decoy identified themselves as a minor?
- Was there talk of actual sex taking place?
- Did you abandon your plan before carrying it out?
- If there was travel, what items did you have with you when you were apprehended?
The answers to the questions above may help you or hurt you. But either way, we need to know what kind of case the State has before we can start picking it apart and formulating a defense.
We will schedule depositions of all important witnesses and question them under oath. In a lot of cases, we learn a lot of valuable information that we can use in your defense. It also gives us the chance to “lock in” the State’s witnesses under oath so that if they try to change their story later, we can impeach them with their deposition testimony.
While working on building your defense, we will also stay in regular contact with the State Attorney to see if the case can be negotiated down to something you would accept. We do this in every case, just like we prepare every case for trial. Prosecutors know that we are willing to discuss plea bargains, but they also know that we are more than ready to fight them in trial if that is what our client wants.
We will have plenty of time to talk about your different options so that you can make an informed decision. Most importantly, we will be by your side the whole way. Looking out for your best interests and doing everything possible to keep you out of prison.
If you have been charged with Traveling to Meet a Minor in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential case review.