In Florida, being suspected or arrested for traveling to meet a minor is a serious allegation that can result in severe penalties with far-reaching consequences on your life and future. Given the severity of these charges, it is important to understand the charge’s meaning, penalties and consequences and some potential defenses against this criminal offense.
What is the Definition in Florida for Traveling to Meet a Minor?
In Florida, traveling to meet a minor is the offense of traveling or attempting to travel to engage in unlawful sexual conduct after using an electronic device or online service to seduce, entice, or solicit a child. As a second-degree felony, this offense is punishable by 15 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
Given that crimes against children are harshly pursued and punished in Florida, if you have been arrested for traveling to meet a minor for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity, you should not take these accusations lightly.
What is Considered Traveling to Meet a Minor
According to the Florida Statute § 847.0135(4), it is illegal to travel any distance or attempt to travel (within or outside Florida) to engage with a minor in unlawful sexual conduct after using the internet or any electronic device to seduce, lure, entice, or solicit that minor to engage in the activity.
For the purposes of this statute, a minor is a person under 18 years of age. Individuals can still be charged with this crime even if they did not travel, but requested another person to do so. For example, asking a friend to pick up the child.
Additionally, a defendant can also face criminal charges if he or she solicited or enticed the child’s legal guardian to consent their child to engage in unlawful sexual conduct. Notice that even if the sexual conduct did not occur, merely traveling to meet a child is enough to warrant criminal charges.
To prove someone committed a crime when traveling to meet a minor, the prosecutor’s office must present evidence to show that:
- The defendant willingly and knowingly traveled to meet a minor with the intention of engaging in illegal sexual activity.
- The victim was under the age of 18, or the accused had reason to believe the victim was under the age of 18
- The accused solicited the minor or attempted to lure the minor, into engaging in a relationship of a sexual nature.
Given the complexity of these charges, you should retain the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact our Goldman Wetzel attorneys to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Related Resource: Florida Statutory Rape Law
Penalties For Traveling to Meet a Minor in Florida
In Florida, an offense for traveling to meet a minor is charged as a second-degree felony. This means that this offense is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Due to its severity, this crime has a mandatory minimum sentence of 21 months in prison.
Other penalties that can result from these charges include registering as a sex offender and probation. Additionally, these types of charges are not eligible for expunction. Be aware that if the crime is charged as a federal offense, the penalties can be harsher.
In Florida, each separate instance or use of a device or online service can be charged as a separate offense for traveling to meet a minor. In other words, if the defendant uses a device or online service on three different occasions to engage or arrange the travel, he or she could be charged with three separate counts of the crime.
Defenses to Traveling to Meet a Minor
Building a strong defense depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. Some of the defenses that the criminal defense attorneys from Goldman Wetzel might be able to use include:
- Entrapment: depending on the case, a criminal lawyer might be able to prove that the defendant was induced to commit a crime that they were otherwise not predisposed to perpetrate.
- Lack of solicitation or seduction: in order to get a conviction, the prosecutor must prove that you travel to meet the minor for a sexual purpose. A defense lawyer might try to prove that there was no intent to solicit, entice or seduce the child to engage in an unlawful activity.
Contact a Criminal Attorney in Florida
Given the severity of this offense, if you are facing charges or have been arrested for traveling to meet a minor in Florida, you should enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Goldman Wetzel exclusively focuses on criminal law and represents clients facing criminal charges in Pinellas County, Bradenton, Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Hillsborough County.