The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office routinely partners with other police agencies to plan sting operations to go after people who they believe are looking to have sexual activity with minors.

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When the police set up such stings, they record all of the electronic communication that took place between the offender and the undercover officer. Those records will be transcribed and introduced into evidence. If you are being accused of Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sex in Okaloosa County, you need immediate help. You are facing a mandatory prison sentence.

My name is Tim Flaherty. Since 2001, criminal defense in Okaloosa County has been my only area of practice. My partner’s name is Brandy Merrifield. Over the years, we have built a reputation as a firm that gets results for our clients. Call an Okaloosa County defense lawyer for traveling to meet a minor for sex today at (850) 243-6097 for an immediate, free case review.

It doesn’t matter what you’re accused of doing. You deserve advocates on your side who will fight for you, not judge you.

What is the legal definition of Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sexual Activity in Okaloosa County?

The charge of Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sexual Activity is defined as follows:

“any person who travels any distance for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a child after using a computer online service, internet service, local bulletin service, or any other device capable of electronic communication to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child or another person believed by the person to be a child, to engage in unlawful sexual conduct with a child.”

To summarize what this means, the State has to prove that you solicited a child for sex online, and then traveled with the intent to have sex with that minor. The distance of the travel is irrelevant.

It is common in these cases for the person to claim that they tried to turn around, or they never intended to get out of the car. This is not technically a defense; however, it can be used in mitigation when negotiating with the prosecutor or appearing before the Court for sentencing.

If I have been charged with Traveling to Meet a Minor in Okaloosa County, what am I facing?

The charge has a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. In addition to the Traveling charge, the State will also charge the offense of Soliciting a Child for Sex Using a Computer. The Solicitation charge carries a penalty of between 5 and 15 years, so if you are convicted of both charges, you could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

It is also important to calculate the applicable minimum sentence under the sentencing guidelines in Florida. Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sexual Activity score 56 points. The 56 points are entered into an equation as follows:

56 points – 28 = 28. 28 x 0.75 = 21 months in prison as a minimum sentence.

For a Traveling to Meet a Minor charge in Okaloosa County, what can you do to help me?

I’ve been practicing criminal defense here in Okaloosa County since 2001. We have defended hundreds of clients accused of serious felonies, including sexual crimes. After all this time, we have learned 3 things that will always be true, and will apply in every case:

  • You should never agree to give a statement to the police without talking to an attorney first. This is BY FAR our #1 piece of advice.
  • An arrest is not a conviction. In other words, the State has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Just because they had enough evidence to arrest you, that does not mean there is enough evidence to convict you. There is no such thing as a hopeless case.
  • At Flaherty & Merrifield, we believe that each and every client is a person worth fighting for. Our philosophy is to do whatever it takes to get the best result possible.

We will build a custom defense for you that fits the unique facts and circumstances of your case. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to defending serious felony cases. Having said that, here is a list of things that we review in every case we defend:

We always start with a thorough review of all of the evidence that the State has. As we review that evidence, here are some issues to consider:

  • Can we claim illegal entrapment on the part of the police?
  • Was there any doubt that the person was clearly a minor?
  • Can the State prove that you intended to actually have sex with the minor, or can we make an argument that it was just harmless talk? In order for the State to prove your guilty, they must prove that you traveled with the intent to have sex.
  • When you traveled, did you stop along the way and turn around? When you arrived at the meeting location, did you get out of the car? While these might not be defenses to the crime, it might make a difference when it comes time to negotiate with the State Attorney. It also might be something we can argue to the judge at sentencing to reduce your sentence.
  • When the police arrested you, did you have anything on you, or in your car, that would indicate that you planned on having sex? Examples would be items such as sex toys, drugs, restraints, condoms, alcohol, etc.

Depending on the answers to those questions, and other issues that will come up, we will go over every aspect of the State’s case. We will explain your options, and help you make an informed decision. In most cases, your decision will come down to whether to go to trial, or whether to enter a plea. If you enter a plea, it will either be a negotiated plea with the State Attorney, or it will be a plea to the Judge at a sentencing hearing. Either way, we will explore ALL options. You are the one who will make the decision, with our help.

Contact an Okaloosa County Sex Crime Attorney

If you or a loved one have been charged with a sex crime in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.

Brandy Merrifield
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney