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Can the Military Police Conduct Internet Sex Stings?
This is one of the issues that was addressed in a hearing in Pinellas County on February 19th, 2014. There is an Air Force OSI agent by the name of William Glidewell that has been working with the State in four sex stings in the last year as the Internet “chatter”. He started with the Central Florida ICAC task force administered by Sheriff Grady Judd and “chatted” first in a case in Lake County. Recently, he participated in two stings in Pinellas County as well as four Federal cases in the Tampa Division of the Middle District of Florida. Many of these men facing charges which may lead to life altering court records and future of possible Florida probation.
I have challenged his legal authority and the legality of his participation in purely “State” criminal investigations. There is a Federal Statute that was created just after the Civil War that makes it illegal for the military to conduct state criminal investigations. In the Pinellas case, Glidewell chatted with a man for two days and lured him to travel to Clearwater and did not disclose age until the man arrived outside the “take down” location. The Clearwater case also involves a motion to dismiss based on “Entrapment as a matter of law”.There was a ruling on both the Federal issue as well as the entrapment issue, call me for more information on the outcome.
The Federal Statute known as the “Posse Comitatus” law could impact a number of State cases across Florida in that Glidewell’s participation could be considered a felony violation of the Federal Law. There has never been a prosecution under the Posse Comitatus law but that does not mean that this will not be the first. It is unlikely the United States Attorney will do anything because Glidewell is a witness for them in a number of cases. Maybe the Department of Justice will get involved and bring this to a head. In the meantime, I contacted the Air Force to alert them to the fact that military investigators are not supposed to be enforcing State laws.
The Internet Sex stings are out of control and many innocent men are being entrapped by undercover officers that are actually luring and enticing them to travel to meet minors. Sex is powerful bait and the law is being abused regularly by local law enforcement. The time and effort would be better spent educating young girls about the dangers of the Internet.
If you or someone you know is facing charges after a Florida Internet Sex Sting of traveling to meet a minor, improper use of a communication device, internet solicitation of a minor, attempted child abuse or potential charges as a result of an arrest after a cyber child sex sting operation and need to talk about your options, please call me, Peter D. Aiken at 941-366-3506 today for a free consultation.
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Probably one of the toughest decisions you will ever have to make is whether or not to accept a negotiated plea, a plea bargain, in a sex crime case. When you are charged with a sex crime like traveling to meet a minor, Internet solicitation of a minor, child pornography or date rape, ultimately you have to make a decision as to whether or not to go to trial or negotiate some type of plea. Unlike other types of crimes like possession of cocaine, possession of pill or driving on a suspended license, no two sex crime cases are alike. Every one of them are different. Deciding what to do is a hard call.
Most serious sex crime convictions have terrible consequences. All of them carry possible State prison sentences. That is not the big consequence. The real problem is becoming a registered sex offender. The real problem is becoming a registered sex offender. It affects where you can live, where you can work, where you can travel and your real personal freedom for the rest of your life. Sex offender probation is also tough. You have curfew, have to wear an electronic monitor, cannot live within a thousand feet of designated places like schools and have to go to all kinds of therapy, evaluation and counseling.
You only get good plea deals when you have an attorney that knows how to raise good defenses and negotiate with the prosecutors. You only get good deals from a position of strength and having a good chance of winning if you go to trial. The prosecutors almost always start off offering State time in prison as well as a sex conviction. It all depends on how strong the case is, whether or not the witnesses are strong and how bad the evidence is against you. Sex cases are tough but not impossible. Even when the cases seem hopeless and the evidence is against you, a good lawyer may be able to do damage control and get you a plea deal for a lesser offense or a lower sentence. Never give up hope.
I have resolved dozens of sex crime traveler cases in the last few years. In half of them we were able to get the charges reduced to non sex offenses like attempted child abuse, unlawful use of a two way communication device or some other computer crime. This is important because in those cases the client did not become a registered sex offender. In the non sex offense resolutions most of the men got probation. In the remaining cases where the evidence was overwhelming we were still able to get low sentences when we could show that the men were not really sex predators but merely made a terrible mistake in judgment.
You have to weigh the strength of the State’s case against the consequences of losing. The State also weighs the strength of their case against the defense lawyer they are coming up against. If the lawyer has not handled sex sting cases and is not familiar with defending them, generally, he will not get as good a deal. If the lawyer has not raised good defense issues, he will not get a good offer. In these types of cases the experience of the lawyer really matters a lot. Not all cases are winners. In some cases it is damage control. Having a good damage control lawyer can make a difference in years of your life. If you want to talk about your sex crime case feel free to call at 941 366 3506 or visit Sarasotaderdefender.com
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