The South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force made several arrests over a three day span. The operation headed by the U.S. Justice Department led to several cyber crimes arrests for charges including traveling to have sex with a minor and possession of child pornography. The sting was led by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Two men from Miami-Dade County purportedly traveled to the Keys to meet with what they allegedly believed to be an underage girl. As it turns out, as in so many cases, the underage girl turned out not to be underage, but was in fact an undercover detective. The defendants may hire criminal lawyers from Miami or from Monroe County. If they can not afford to retain a defense attorney, a representative from the Monroe County's Public Defender's Office will be appointed to represent the defendants. Due to a possible conflict of interest, one of the defendants will be represented by the Office of the Regional Counsel.
The South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force continuously runs operations throughout all of the counties in South Florida. The operations are usually conducted with multiple agencies on the federal, local and state levels. The current operations are targeting adult males who meet girls over the internet and attempt to engage in sex with minors. The other area being targeted is possession of child pornography. Florida Statute 847.0135(4)(1) is titled "Traveling to Meet a Minor". To prove the offense, the prosecution is required to prove that a person traveled or attempted to travel from a location with the purpose of committing certain sexual acts with a child or with a person believed to be a child. The person charged must have also seduced, solicited, lured or enticed a child to engage in unlawful sexual conduct. The crimes in the State of Florida is a second degree felony punishable up to fifteen years in prison.
Child pornography is encompassed by several Florida statutes. Child pornography is covered by Florida Statute 847.002, 847.011, 847.012 and 847.013. The child pornography statutes includes many illegal acts. Selling, lending or giving away, distributing, transmitting child pornography is a crime. Mere possession of child pornography is every bit a serious as the aforementioned offenses. Each of these crimes is a third degree felony punishable up to five years in prison. The important thing to remember when dealing with child pornography is that a defendant is subject to five years in prison for every image that is transmitted or merely possessed. Law enforcement officers typically serve search warrants to confiscate personal computers and laptops in an effort to recover child pornography. Anyone who engages in this conduct must erase images from their computers. To seize computers, investigators are required to obtain a search warrant, unless the computer owner consents to the search. Never consent to a search of your computer. Require a warrant before releasing computers and phones to the police.
Cyber crimes detection and prosecutions have become more common with the computer and internet age. As the problem of internet child related sexual offenses became more prevalent, the task force to prevent and detect internet crimes against children was created in 2008. The task force now includes more than 2,000 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Since the inception of the task force, more 30,000 arrests have been made. If a person is arrested for any of the above offenses, remember to never provide a statement to the police. A confession or admission is often the strongest evidence that can be obtained by investigators and will certainly be used by prosecutors to put someone in jail.
Miami-Dade Men Arrested, Meet Detective as Underage Girl for Sex, Miami Herald.com, April 9, 2012.