Tampa Chat Room Crime Lawyer
Hillsborough County Cyberstalking Defense Attorney
The Internet revolutionized communication by making it much easier to connect with people across the country and even around the world. In the digital age, new technology brings opportunities to make the world feel much smaller. Unfortunately, the dawn of the internet age has also created additional opportunities for criminals to prey on potential victims. Child predators have always existed. However, publicly approaching a child involved a much greater risk of being identified and arrested. As more households acquired access to the internet and all members of the family began using chat rooms to communicate, predators learned new, more subtle ways to lure children for indecent purposes. Today, the federal government has increased its focus on targeting predators online in chat rooms, on social media platforms, and in other places children tend to play online. If you find yourself facing related charges in Hillsborough County , do not delay. Contact a Tampa chat room crime attorney as soon as you’re charged – or even if you suspect you’re under investigation.
How federal sting operations work
Florida and federal law enforcement agencies conduct chat room sting operations in their efforts to bring child predators to justice and prevent them from harming children. During a sting operation, a law enforcement officer or agent will monitor a chat with a suspected child predator then pretend to be interested once the conversation appears to turn sexual. The undercover officer will engage the predator until he or she makes arrangements to meet the child offline. Once a location is arranged, the predator is met by law enforcement agents and arrested upon arrival. Even if the person does not make arrangements to meet offline, federal agents are able to log the person’s IP address and often connect it to a home address, where the arrest can be made. Not unlike drug and prostitution sting operations, the legality of certain arrests made during chat room sting operations are sometimes questioned on the grounds of entrapment, a term that describes instances in which law enforcement uses excessive persuasion to convince a person to commit a crime he or she otherwise would not commit.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Federal child solicitation law
Federal law defines solicitation as any act to intentionally induce, persuade, coerce, or entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. Federal solicitation laws prohibit:
- use of mail, interstate or international commerce, or the Internet to solicit a child
- transportation of a minor across state lines or international borders for sex
- travel across state lines or international borders to engage in sex with a minor
Solicitation of a minor can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If a Hillsborough County defendant is convicted of using the Internet, mail, or another form of interstate or international communication to solicit or attempt to solicit a minor for sexual activity, he or she may be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. A fine of up to $250,000 may also be imposed. The individual may also be eligible for supervised release for any period up to life.
Lack of intent
There are situations in which an adult may be initially accused of attempting to solicit a minor online, but the adult lacked the intent to commit a sex crime against a child. For example, a person who enjoys role-play chat rooms may communicate with another chatroom participant who the person believes is an adult pretending to be a child due to the nature of the chatroom. This can especially be the case if chatroom participants are pretending to be child-like characters such as Peter Pan. Therefore, in this case, the defendant’s Hillsborough County or Tampa chat room crime attorney may be able to establish that the defendant agreed to meet the undercover agent because he or she believed all participants in the chatroom were adults who were pretending to be fantasy characters. In another example, a baseball coach may communicate with a minor in a sports video game chatroom. If the baseball coach and the undercover agent have limited their conversation to sports and the coach invited the undercover agent to meet him at the baseball field during practice to try out for the team, charges against the coach may be dropped, or if his case goes to trial, it is likely that, in the absence of other factors, he would be acquitted due to lack of evidence and lack of intent to solicit a minor for a sexual purpose.
Call a Hillsborough County federal attorney
Being falsely accused of attempting to lure a minor over the Internet can cause personal embarrassment, lead to strained family relationships and friendships, and even have professional implications. While it may be tempting to confide in a friend about the problem, hide and hope it goes away, or even contact law enforcement and arrange a time to speak to them immediately, those responses are typically not in the best interest of the accused. The first call should be to an experienced Tampa chat room crime lawyer who has experience defending clients against false sex crimes charges. Speaking with an attorney is always the best initial conversation to have because the discussion remains confidential. Furthermore, the attorney can provide sound legal advice, help the individual understand the implications of his or her case, and determine the best steps to take next. No one should face a chatroom charge alone. Having the benefit of a seasoned Hillsborough County chatroom charge defense lawyer can ensure the accused is adequately protected and defended and provide solace in having a compassionate legal advocate every step along the road to clearing the name and reputation of the wrongfully accused.