Traveling to Meet a Minor Penalties in Punta Gorda, Florida (FL)

Punta Gorda Traveling to Meet a Minor Defense Lawyers - Florida Statute § 847.0135 

In the state of Florida, it is a very serious criminal offense for an adult to travel any distance and by any method (train, walking, bus, bicycle, private auto, ETC) to meet a minor with the intention of any sexual activity.  Under Florida Statute § 847.0135, "Traveling to Meet a Minor" is defined as causing a minor to travel, attempting to cause a minor to travel, or attempting to travel to meet a child to engage in any level of sexual activity is a felony.  

Typically, the crime of "Traveling to Meet a Minor" will proceed acts of soliciting, enticing, luring, or seducing a child under 18 years of age to engage in sexual conduct by way of using dating apps, online chat rooms, telephone, internet service, bulletin service, computer service, or through an electronic device.

One significant misunderstanding that many adults fail to understand is that Florida law doesn't require a "real" minor to be engaged in sex solicitation for a felony criminal offense to have been committed.  Moreover, most adults do not understand that once a solicitation for any sexual act has been proposed and the adult agrees to meet the minor, he or she has committed a felony.  Florida Statute Section 847.0135 affirms that a crime has been committed when an adult thinks the person that they are going to meet is a child.  Furthermore, it is not necessary that unlawful sexual acts did not occur. 

This is the typical setup that occurs in an Internet child solicitation sting operation.  Law enforcement officers pose as children online and try to set up "sexual encounters" with the sting targets.  This is why people are arrested during an Internet child sex solicitation sting.  Opponents to online child sex solicitation operations believe that there are many individuals who become "entrapped" into doing or saying something that they would have never done or said to a minor.  Many innocent people who had never engaged in any sexual conversations or acts with a minor get innocently entangled the undercover sting operations unfairly.  

Traveling to Meet a Minor: Penalties

Those accused of "Traveling to Meet a Minor" in Florida are facing penalties that include a second-degree felony charge, a minimum prison sentence of 21 months, and a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.  The defendant may also be required to pay a Depending on the circumstances and could be fined up to $10,000.  Upon release from prison, the accused will be required to register either as a Sex Offender or as a "Sexual Predator" on both the Federal and State of Florida Sex Offenders Registries.  Sex offender probation will also be set up upon release from prison.

If you've been charged with any crime, call Musca Law immediately. You could face severe punishments for conviction and might be required to register as a sex offender. For your free consultation, call us 24/7 at (941) 621-9965.

Traveling to Meet a Minor: Defenses

When you retain our firm, your Musca Law Defense Attorney will examine your case to determine the best course of action and defense strategy.  The individual facts and circumstances connected with your case will determine which criminal defenses can be used and how those defenses should be raised during the course of the criminal trial. 

Entrapment - Florida police have begun using entrapment-like methods to try and ensnare people who might be willing to solicit a minor for sex. They perform this by pretending to be minors who want to engage in sex.  A skilled defense attorney will show that the defendant was induced to commit the sex crime that he or she would not otherwise have been predisposed to do; then, the charge could be thrown out due to police entrapment. However, the Justice Court will not be looking at the police during the trial, but rather your predispositions and intentions. 

The following circumstances will be considered:

  • How long was the interaction with a police officer?
  • Who initiated the sexual conversations?
  • Whether the defendant expressed reluctance to discuss explicit topics.
  • The extent that an undercover law enforcement officer persisted in encouraging or inducing communication of a sexual nature.
  • Whether the defendant's travel to the area was immediate or incidental or another planned trip.

Lack of Criminal Intent - Another strong defense against "Traveling to Meet a Minor" includes proving you lacked criminal intent in the case.  Guilt relies on proof that is "beyond a reasonable doubt" that you intended to violate the law.  

Double Jeopardy - Federal law prevents individuals from being punished twice for the same crime. If solicitation and traveling transpired too closely together, the crimes have to be yoked under one crime.  In a situation such as this, it could be possible to file a Motion to Dismiss citing Hartley v. State. This will substantially reduce your sentence.

The Statute of Limitations Has Expired - The statute of limitations in a criminal matter is a specific date on which the prosecution must file criminal charges against the defendant. If the statute of limitations expires before the criminal charges were filed, your criminal defense attorney can raise this as a defense. 

Insufficient Evidence - The most commonly used defense is claiming the state has not proved its case. The burden of proof also rests with the prosecution, and if the prosecution has not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Illegal Search and Seizure - By way of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, every individual has the right to be free from illegal searches and seizures.  If a search was carried out without a court authorized warrant or if there was something else that was unlawful about the search or seizure of evidence, the defendant's attorney will challenge the prosecutor's evidence as "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree." This principle stands for the theory that the state shouldn't be able to enter into evidence things that were acquired in violation of the defendant's constitutional rights.  The evidence is the fruit of a poisonous search. 

Violation of Right to Speedy Trial - According to the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, every defendant also has the right to a speedy trial. If the trial has not taken place within a reasonable time frame and has been delayed by the defendant's fault, this is another defense available to the defendant. 

At Musca Law, our defense attorneys understand the compete ramifications of a conviction in a child solicitation case.  We work tirelessly to protect their liberties and guide our clients through every phase of the legal process.

Let Musca Law Advocate for You

The long-term consequences of conviction are life changing.  Registration as a sex offender lasts a lifetime in the state of Florida and requires regular check-ins and updates with your local sex offender registry. Furthermore, you may not be able to travel to certain countries for vacation or business. Also, any other sex offense you may later incur or be charged with will likely be influenced by your previous charge, potentially worsening the sentence.

Let us offer you our help. Musca Law has more than 150 years of legal experience to provide your case. Our aggressive and meticulous sex crimes defense lawyers offer 24/7 availability and free case evaluations. We can investigate the charges completely and advocate on your behalf in court.

Contact us at (941) 621-9965 or fill out our online form to get started today.