In Okaloosa County, if you are being accused of soliciting a child for sex on the computer, you are facing a felony charge. The State doesn’t have to prove that you actually had sex; they only have to prove that you solicited it.

It is normal to feel like you are guilty until proven innocent, or that no one cares to hear your side of the story. Anytime there is an allegation of sexual activity against a child, even family and friends can turn against you. I want you to know that your case is not hopeless. You have the opportunity, right now, to take steps to fight back and help yourself.

My name is Tim Flaherty. My partner’s name is Brandy Merrifield. Criminal Defense in Okaloosa County is our only area of practice. When you are ready to meet these allegations head-on, contact an Okaloosa County soliciting a child for sex using a computer defense lawyer at (850) 243-6097.

Should I talk to the police if I am under investigation for Soliciting a Child for Sex in Okaloosa County?

If you are contacted by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, that means they already believe you are guilty. In other words, before you even speak to them, you are a suspect.

Our advice is very simple: if an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputy calls you, or shows up at your house, politely and firmly tell them that you have nothing to say to them without your attorney being there. Once you demand an attorney, the police are legally required to stop questioning you. If that happens, call us. We will talk more about your situation, and what steps to take next.

Overview of Soliciting a Child for Sex Using a Computer in Okaloosa County

Florida Statute 847.0135 defines the charge 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 the penalty for Soliciting a Child for Sex Using a Computer?

The Florida Punishment Code Scoresheet provides sentencing parameters that are used to calculate a potential mandatory sentence in prison. The Scoresheet uses a point system, and a Level system.

Under those guidelines, Solicitation of a Child for Sex Using a Computer is a Level 7 offense.

Level 7 crimes score 56 points. The 56 points are then fed into an equation as follows:

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

The guidelines tell us that the minimum sentence is 21 months. The degree of felony tells us what the maximum sentence is. This charge is a 3rd degree felony which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, making the sentencing range, if you are convicted, between 21 months and 60 months in prison.

There is an additional aggravating factor that can dramatically increase your sentencing exposure. If you lied or misrepresented your age, the maximum sentence increases to 15 years in prison.

Soliciting a Minor for Sex Using a Computer is commonly charged with another offense, Traveling to Meet a Minor for Sexual Activity. That charge is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison.

If I am being accused of Soliciting a Child Using a Computer in Okaloosa County, what can an attorney do for me?

As I said earlier, your case is not hopeless, even though it might seem like that now. A defense team with years of experience and expertise can make a big difference in the eventual outcome. Remember one thing: you have rights. That includes the right to a jury trial, the right to force the State to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the right to confront and cross-examine the State’s witnesses, the right to call witnesses on your own behalf, and the right to testify or not testify. You also have the right to negotiate for a plea with the prosecutor, or the right to present mitigating evidence at a sentencing hearing.

Those rights don’t mean a thing unless you have the right attorney who knows how to use those rights to execute a customized defense strategy that gives you a chance of success.

Every defense that we prepare is unique to a particular client, and their specific facts and circumstances. However, there are a few common issues that we review in every case. A few of them include:

  • A complete and thorough review of ALL evidence in your case, including any written chat logs, or text logs.
  • An interrogation of all State witnesses to look for bias, mistakes, discrepancies, etc.
  • A complete review of how the case was initiated
    • Did you make the first contact or was it the undercover officer?
    • Is there any evidence to suggest that the police used entrapment?
    • Can the State prove that you intended to actually engage in the sexual activity, or was it just harmless talk?
    • Is there any evidence that allows us to make an argument that you tried to end the interaction before it went too far?
  • If applicable, we will file motions to suppress evidence or dismiss the case if any of your rights were violated.
  • We will always be available to you to answer your questions and help you through this terrible ordeal.

If you have been charged with Solicitation of a Child for Sex Using a Computer in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free confidential case evaluation.

Tim Flaherty
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney