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FL: Officers bend rules to boost sex sting arrest totals

POLK COUNTY, Florida – In the decade since Chris Hansen and “To Catch a Predator” popularized Internet sex stings, more than 1,200 men in Florida alone have been arrested, accused of preying on underage teens and children for sex.

But as the stings put more and more men behind bars, detectives are working harder and harder to keep up their arrest numbers. And the tactics they’re using to put alleged sexual offenders in jail are sweeping up large numbers of law-abiding men, too. Full Article

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  1. One Day at a Time

    I’m a victim of these tactics. Law enforcement are the predators. They are guilty of crimes against humanity. They are looking to hurt people and they get off on it.

    • td777

      I’m a victim of them as well, they ARE entrapment, and any “crime” in which the prosecution can so easily manipulate the evidence(as in my case) by changing the chat text to say more than it actually said should not be charged as a crime at all!

  2. George

    I’ve been arguing against entrapment for years and as “bob” have kept some “to catch a predator” members too busy to entrap at the years long topix thread “doctor heads to court after online sex sting.”

    It’s important to keep their lunacy visible.

  3. Q

    I’ve been saying for a while now that these cops go out and create crimes where no crime exists. What they do is like a window repair man throwing a rock through a window and then going after and getting paid for the repair job. The mere fact that cops do this is a clear indication that we need to get allot of cops off the payroll and downsize.

  4. Jean

    This issue needs to be addressed nationwide. Too many LE’s are doing these stings and “catching” people who are coerced into committing a crime. How many innocent people have been convicted by such illegal tatics? I read almost every day about these stings, and news stations report it like the “suspects” were looking for minors when in reality, it was the LE looking for them.

  5. mch

    Those who have been caught in one of the LE stings know the template they follow and exactly who they target. Experience has shown that Orange County and Santa Clara Counties are “tops” in the sting department and “tops” in bending the rules. Losing evidence, altering evidence, making threats, not following electronic protocol are just the tip of the iceberg as far as irregularities. They hit a person with excessive bail, threats of long prison terms and if one can afford an attorney you spend savings AND retirement paying for one that generally steers you to a crappy plea bargain. I’ve seen slight changes coming, and look forward to the day when an entrapment case/verdict is won by a defendant in California.

  6. VillRay

    For these local DoJ ICAC Task Force internet sex stings that are given federal funding, there has to be an Operational Plan and MOU for each operation.
    Yes, I managed to get a redacted copy of the Operational Plan. My defense attorney filed a Motion to Compel, scheduled a court date and presented it to the Judge with the Prosecutor present. When it was initially filed and prior to scheduling the court date, the Prosecutor called my defense attorney and informed him that a court date was not required and that he had already asked the Sheriff’s Office to provide it. My defense attorney said no that he wanted a court date to ensure that the release of the Operational Plan was officially directed by the Judge via the granted Motion to Compel. Forcing the scheduling and conduct of court dates for each and every motion filed is the only way to go. This is where you will find out if you are really placing pressure on the Prosecutor in front of the Judge to timely do his work and not stretch things out until he is ready. Every motion that my defense attorney filed was presented and argued in front of Court and the Judge and Prosecutor clearly understood that my defense attorney definitely knew what he was doing, was going to strongly defend me against these charges and force them to work to rebut any motions that we had filed.

    Don’t let your PD or PDA agree to anything with the Prosecutor without officially filing the motions and presenting them in front of the court. All of this work will be very beneficial when you file an appeal on everything that the Judge did not grant. Most importantly, the Prosecutor will start to sweat and will start looking at your charges and as well questioning them. This will force him to go back to his Supervisor/s and seek to work out a plea that drops charges, or makes them a misdemeanor, or changes to a lesser charge with no DOC, probation or sexual offender registration.

    You and your PD or PDA need to work very closely together to jointly design your defense strategy. Start off immediately at arraignment and pleading (NOT GUILTY) with a motion to reduce bond, Compel (Discovery), request jury trial in your case, while simultaneously presenting a motion to allow internet access (violation of 1st Amendment Right) which is a Motion to Redefine Bond Restrictions if you were taken this right away at your 1st Appearance after your arrest by the Judge. Also have your PD or PDA file a motion to release any property that they confiscated that has no relevance to your charges and/or has been inspected and has no evidence for the prosecution, i.e. other electronic equipment, etc. The next motions that you should consider are access to your minor children is you have minor children. Immediately thereafter file a motion to compel (Operational Plan, ICAC Task Force MOU, and DoJ ICAC Investigative and Standards – that the Operational Commander presented at the Sting Operational Briefing). Even though you can get the DoJ ICAC Standards on line, demand that the Prosecutor provide them to you. This will probably be the 1st time that the Prosecutor would have read them. You will not be able to work on identifying the ICAC Standards violations without compelling the receipt of the above documents. All of these steps and motions are written down with your PD or PDA that evolves into your DEFENSE STRATEGY. Take advantage of each and every court date to present a motion which you have filed.

    Before doing the depositions with the Chatter, Chatter Supervisor, and anyone else that provided a statement in the arrest records against you, you and your PD or PDA need to define all of the questions that he/she needs to ask at the depositions. You are not going to be there to be able to feed them any more questions that you may have forgotten. This will be a very lengthy list of questions that you as the defendant needs to agree to. Some PDs or PDAs will tell you that they have done this a million times and that they know what they are doing. If you are confronted with this type of defense attorney that does not want your full involvement in preparing for the depositions, then you need to have him verify to you the number of internet sex sting cases he had defended and the results of each. Hopefully you have already validated his credentials on his successes before you hired him but if you did not get the details before, this is the right time to do it. You will normally find out that some have never taken these type of cases to trial, that they focused their efforts at getting a good plea and then convinced their defendant to take a plea, or this is their 1st real internet sex sting case which will then be a hit or miss for you. Ensure that the depositions are done with the Prosecutor present. This is a MUST. I do not recommend doing them with the Prosecutor listening to the deposition on Skype or via a telephone conversation. Also ensure that your PD or PDA does the deposition at the location of his/her choice as scheduled and not via Skype or telephonically or a location that the law enforcement or Prosecutor desires.

    Most important to your defense will be your motion to dismiss (MTD). Do not file this until you’re good and ready and have done all your homework, ie. have all the Discovery, have completed all depositions, have identified all of the ICAC violations, have done additional depositions due to the fact that you have defined new questions that need answers, etc.. File more motions to compel more information (Chatter training records, participation in sex stings, total arrest with this chatter during this operation and other operations, # of dismissals in prior cases, etc. etc) and have your PD or PDA complete all the depositions.
    This is also a great time, since your PD or PDA is on a roll of filing motions, to file a Double Jeopardy motion, a Motion to Dismiss your Attempted Lewd and Lascivious Battery charge, etc.

    If your MTD was not granted, go back to the drawing board with your PD or PDA and see if there is anything that you both missed that would justify submitting a 2nd MTD, i.e. new Discovery or evidence that the Prosecutor provided late, new information about other ICAC Standard violations that you later discovered or was provided to you about the Sting, etc. There is nothing wrong in filing a 2nd MTD.

    I would strongly recommend that you ensure that prior to submitting the MTD that you get a psychological sexual offender risk evaluation/assessment by a Dr/Psychologist that is well respected and recognized by the County Courts. Provide the results of this evaluation/assessment to strengthen your MTD. If you have a seasoned PD or PDA that has defended a few internet sex sting cases, he/she should be able to immediately schedule this evaluation/assessment session for you.

    Defending these cases is complicated, difficult and time consuming for a PD or PDA. Unless your PD or PDA has a few of these cases under their belt and a good success record. You need to be additional pair of eyes doing a lot of research yourself to help him defend you. Know their next step and future steps that your PD or PDA is taking in your defense.

    If you don’t make your PD or PDA work for you, they will not make life miserable for the Prosecutor. Again, the more motions that the Court denies, the more motions you will have to list on your Appeal.

    Judges are very afraid to go against these types of internet sex sting cases. Only a few have. Things are changing and improving but the Courts, who are still elected, cannot afford to be seen as weak and not hard on these cases. Judges and Prosecutors both know that law enforcement is bending the rules and striving hard to keep high numbers due to the DoJ ICAC Program federal funds. Some Sheriffs have taken this on as a personal issue due to the fact that they love to have their name on TV, newspaper, and internet news releases and doing these stings illegally is the venue that will provide them this free visibility. Without your PD or PDA filing multiple motions and then presenting and questioning these illegal stings and tactics, law enforcement will continue to do them and Prosecutors will continue to prosecute innocent individuals. Defendants and their PDs or PDAs need to make life miserable for the Courts and Prosecutors with multiple filings of motions that will educate them and uncover the massive illegal (solicitation, coercion, luring, enticing, forceful and entrapment) tactics and rules that law enforcement are bending to increase arrest numbers. This coupled with external negative media releases that are becoming more predominant against these internet sex stings will lead to different results; more dismissals, dropping of charges, and many more agreeable and acceptable pleas that don’t include DOC, probation or sexual offender registration.

  7. Tina Hedrick

    My 30 year old son was just arrested in this type of sting. He answered a ad for adult hook-up, with the poster stating over 18 in the heading of the ad. He requested a picture, and a cropped black & white face shot was provided. She looked clearly in her late 20’s. They discussed meeting, no fee for sex for offered or requested. Once meeting was established, she stated she was a ‘bit younger’… he asked how old & she stated ‘16’. He declined. ‘She’ continued to attempt to meet, stated she ‘act much older’… & started to text sexually. She suggested that they meet at her motel room.He decided that no way was this person 16, or even 18, as her ad said over 18, that her picture was over 18, that her talk was definitely of mature nature, and she had her own room, which would require a if over 18 or even 21 for some places. He decided to meet her, thinking that she was probably a married woman, role playing some younger person fantasy. He told her that something felt ‘fishy’ about the txt exchange. He was trying to figure out what was going on. He stopped at a nearby gas station (same lot) and fueled his car, and saw that a sheriff was at the gas station. He let the person know that there was a sheriff nearby, in case he was being ‘cat fished’ & was being targeted to be robbed. When he got to the motel, he went into the lobby to make sure I.D. was required to rent the room. It was. He asked that she step out to a vehicle that was not his to verify that she was not under age, not wanting to have her anywhere near his car if she was a minor, and not wanting to in or near the room if she was a minor.
    She declined, telling him to go to another location to meet up, meanwhile sending very graffic and explicit txt messages about what she wanted & if he would do those things to her. She asked him to bring her alcohol. (He did not bring any) He did not respond to them other to say that it didn’t feel right & not worth getting arrested for, so he was going to go back to the gas station, (where the sheriff was) and she could meet him there. He wanted to verify she was a legit of age person and be in a public, well lit, with law enforcement nearby if she was anything other than an adult. He was arrested there.
    He was charged with 288.3 & 288.4. He bonded out, and
    He lost his job immediately. He has hired a attorney….
    Here we go.
    This man has NEVER been in trouble with the law in any way.
    I’m overwhelmed with the tactics used. I have read the text stream, and saw her picture. How can they use adult sites, adult ages, adult pictures, adult words, & have one comment that the person is ‘underage ‘ & it be legal.
    Internet is used in many fantasy type messages… in no way was my son ‘seeking sex with a minor’ .

    • Curiouser

      This sounds so familiar. Which agency arrested him, and do you know the investigator’s name?

    • Mor

      I was caught 20 years ago in a similar sting all stings should be illegal

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