Florida Police’s Internet Child Predator Stings and Entrapment
Written by Moses & Rooth on June 1, 2011
Some Question the Legality of Aggressive Law Enforcement Tactics
A recent internet child predator sting created by Polk County’s Sheriff’s Department resulted in the arrest of 22 men. Authorities created advertisements on websites such as Craigslist, Backpage, MyYearbook and OKCupid, pretending that they were a concerned parent or relative who wanted someone to provide guidance to their young girl. Some of the accused men answered the advertisements and were arrested for ‘expressing an interest’ in having sex with the nonexistent child. Other accused men were arrested for having online chats on AOL instant messenger and then allegedly arriving at a location for the purpose of sex with the fictitious child.
Ever since Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” aired, a spotlight has shone on the set-up and subsequent arrest of people for committing alleged sexual internet crimes. There are few people that come to the defense of the alleged predators, as most people in their living room say ‘he got what was coming to him.’ However, “To Catch a Predator” paints the worse possible picture of the situation and never questions whether the accused person’s behavior was the result of entrapment – inducing the alleged offender’s conduct.
Florida’s criminal statutes contain a section on entrapment. However, the statute leaves opportunity for much interpretation on whether the authorities’ conduct improperly induced the alleged offender’s behavior. Whether law enforcement’s actions constitute entrapment depends largely on the factual circumstances of each case, and ultimately is decided by the court. The entrapment defense requires an in-depth analysis of the evidence and construction of a carefully crafted defense strategy.
Those accused of internet crimes or sex crimes are immediately condemned as guilty by the public, before having the opportunity to defend against the accusations. Being arrested for an internet sex crime does astounding damage to one’s reputation and life, but fortunately the criminal justice system still regards the accused as innocent until proven guilty. Because accused people still have an opportunity to clear their name, it is crucial to contact a savvy and experienced criminal defense lawyer to help achieve the best possible outcome.