A St. Petersburg firefighter has resigned after being one of 43 individuals charged with traveling to a home in Manatee County to allegedly have sex with a minor. According to a report by The Tampa Bay Times, the 35-year-old man was arrested as part of a weeklong undercover sting operation. Undercover deputies went online to lure potential suspects to a home to have sex with a child. It is not clear how many of the 43 suspects have criminal records, but the St. Petersburg man had never been disciplined and was considered one of the best firefighters in the agency before his arrest, according to the report.
Under Florida Statute 847.0135 (4), it is illegal for any person to travel to engage in “sexual conduct with a child or with another person believed by the person to be a child after using a computer online service, Internet service, local bulletin board service, or any other device capable of electronic data storage.”
It is common for Florida law enforcement officers to conduct sting operations to lure or trick individuals to violate this law by traveling to an agreed upon location. The law also states: “The fact that an undercover operative or law enforcement officer was involved in the detection and investigation of an offense under this section shall not constitute a defense to a prosecution.”
Individuals facing these types of serious allegations in Florida could face jail time, heavy fines, mandatory registration as a sex offender, and a tarnished reputation that may be difficult to repair. It is also common for convicted sex offenders to lose their employment.
The dedicated St. Petersburg online sex offense lawyers at Musca Law have a proven track record of handling sex crimes involving minors. We offer confidential and comprehensive consultations at (800) 687-2252 to anyone facing sex crime charges in Florida.