Traveling to Meet a Minor in Florida: What Are the Legal Ramifications?

June 4, 2024 Sex Crimes

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Florida, like most states, has strict laws in place to protect children from sexual predators. One such law deals with the act of traveling to meet a minor after online solicitation for unlawful sexual conduct. This offense is outlined in Florida Statute § 847.0135(4) and carries serious consequences.

Understanding the Law

This statute makes it a crime to:

  • Travel or attempt to travel: This includes any distance, within or outside Florida.
  • To meet a minor: A minor is defined as anyone under 18 years old.
  • For unlawful sexual conduct: This encompasses any sexual activity that is illegal, including rape, lewd or lascivious molestation, prostitution involving a minor, and child sexual abuse.
  • After using an electronic device or online service: This includes any form of online interaction, such as chat rooms, social media platforms, messaging apps, or email.
  • To seduce, entice, solicit, or otherwise persuade the minor: The online communication must have aimed to lure the child into sexual activity.

Key Points to Consider

Here are some crucial aspects of this law:

  • No physical contact needed: Even if the meeting with the minor never occurs, simply traveling with the intent to engage in unlawful sexual conduct after online solicitation is a crime.
  • Knowledge of age: The prosecution needs to prove the defendant knew or had reason to believe they were communicating with a minor.
  • First Amendment limitations: Free speech protections are limited when it comes to communication involving child exploitation.

Examples of Traveling to Meet a Minor

Here are some scenarios that might constitute a violation of this law:

  • An adult travels to Florida after communicating online with someone they believe to be a teenager, intending to engage in sexual activity.
  • An individual uses social media to connect with a minor, sending sexually suggestive messages and arranging a meeting for physical contact.
  • Someone travels to meet a child they met online, believing the minor is of consenting age, but law enforcement has posed as the child during the online interaction.

Penalties for Traveling to Meet a Minor

Traveling to meet a minor is a serious offense classified as a second-degree felony in Florida. The potential consequences include:

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • Up to 15 years of probation
  • A fine of up to $15,000
  • Sex offender registration

Defenses Against the Charge

An attorney can explore potential defenses depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Lack of knowledge: The defendant wasn’t aware they were communicating with a minor.
  • Mistake of fact: The defendant believed they were communicating with someone of legal age.
  • Entrapment: Law enforcement induced the defendant to commit the crime through manipulative tactics (rare defense in these cases).

Importance of Consulting an Attorney

If you are facing charges of traveling to meet a minor, it’s critical to consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney in Florida. An attorney at Pumphrey Law can analyze your case, determine potential defenses, and guide you through the legal process.

Experienced Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Being arrested in Florida can be extremely stressful. Being charged and “formally charged” by information in Tallahassee or Leon County, Wakulla County, Jefferson County, Gadsden County , Quincy, Crawfordville, Florida State University, Tallahassee Community College, or Florida A&M University can be life changing. Given the possibility of a lengthy jail or prison sentence and hefty financial penalties, it is important to contact an aggressive, trusted and experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Don Pumphrey, Jr. and the attorneys at Pumphrey Law have decades of experience fighting on behalf of clients and winning. Call Pumphrey Law now at (850) 681-7777 to learn more about what we can do for you. Our lawyers will be happy to provide you with a free consultation.

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