When you face charges after a sex sting operation, get help clearing your name and avoid severe penalties. A Sarasota sex sting operation lawyer understands how individuals become entangled in an aggressive police operation. Internet sex sting operations generate media attention, but they often harm innocent people in the process.

Florida law enforcement officers often use sex sting operations to catch adults looking for illegal sexual relations with a minor. Such operations usually involve a phony ad on Craigslist or BackPage linked to an internet site, chat room, or social media app.

If you or a loved one was arrested in a sex sting, contact Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A., to defend you from overzealous officers and prosecutors.

Call 941-363-7900 today for your free consultation.

Why Call a Lawyer for Sex Sting Operations

Florida sex crime laws are complex. There are nuances that only an experienced defense attorney understands. Therefore, you’re encouraged to call a sex sting operation lawyer as soon as possible.

Criminal defense attorney Erika Valcarcel understands how to craft a defense to sex crime charges. She is a former prosecutor familiar with the state’s pressure to get a conviction, especially in a high-profile sex sting operation case.

Customized Defense Strategies

Attorney Valcarcel and her team handle your case with discretion and sensitivity. We know that even the mention of sex crime charges, particularly those involving a minor, is devastating to you and your loved ones.

We scrutinize the sex sting operation procedures, your arrest, and the nature of the charges against you. A sex sting operation lawyer might seek to have the charges against you dismissed or dropped for several reasons.

Lack of Evidence

The prosecution must show that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Insufficient evidence is often grounds for dismissal and the basis for an effective defense.

Lack of Intent

We pursue a dismissal or create doubt in a trial when the prosecution fails to show the requisite intent. The state must prove that you believed you were talking or texting with a minor and that you intended to commit a sexual act.

Illegal Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement. A sex crimes defense lawyer will seek to suppress evidence obtained from an unlawful search or interrogation.


Sometimes a sex sting operation goes too far and becomes entrapment. The prosecution must look at police conduct to determine if their actions would have lured any reasonable, law-abiding citizen into a criminal act. The state must also show that you were predisposed to commit the crime.

Understanding Sex Sting Operations

Police use false identities to ensnare potential offenders.

Internet sex sting operations involve law enforcement officers posing as minors to engage in compromising conversations with adults. These online chats, texts, or social media messages usually become sexual, and the officer might encourage an exchange of photos or videos.

Eventually, the officer posing as a minor proposes a real-life meeting for a sexual act. Officers usually make their arrest at this meet-up.

Questionable Tactics Used by Police

There are several questionable tactics often used by police to make an arrest:

  • Undercover officers who persist in meeting even when the defendant expresses discomfort or disinterest
  • Officers who pose as minors but use adult dating websites to meet defendants

It is possible to be arrested during an internet sex sting operation even if you never actually speak or engage in sexual acts with a minor.

Potential Criminal Charges From a Sex Sting

Police officers seek as many arrests as possible from an internet sex sting. Likewise, prosecutors want to secure just as many convictions.

Not only could you be imprisoned, but most sex crime convictions in Florida also require you to register as a sex offender.

Solicitation of a Minor Using a Computer or Electronic Device

According to Florida Statute § 847.0135, it is unlawful to use the following to “lure, entice, solicit, or seduce” a minor to engage in sexual conduct:

  • Wi-Fi or internet service
  • Computer service
  • Any electronic device with storage and transmission capabilities, including a cell phone

An actual minor doesn’t need to be involved, nor does there have to be sexual conduct.

The penalty for Solicitation of a Minor Using a computer or electronic device is a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Solicitation of a Minor – Lewd and Lascivious Conduct

Suppose the internet sting operation results in a real-life meeting. Then, police may charge a person with Solicitation of a Minor or Lewd and Lascivious Conduct.

According to Florida Statute § 800.04, lewd or lascivious conduct includes intentionally touching a person 16 years old or younger on their “breasts, genitals, genital area, or buttocks,” including when clothed. The law also applies to an adult forcing a minor to touch them similarly.

Solicitation of a Minor or Lewd and Lascivious Conduct is charged differently depending on the age of the defendant:

  • Second-degree felony when the defendant is 18 years old or older, with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
  • Third-degree felony when the defendant is younger than 18, with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine

Traveling to Meet a Minor

Under Florida law, you face a separate charge for traveling any distance to meet a minor – or someone you believe is a minor – to engage in a sexual act.

According to Florida Statute § 847.0135, this includes:

  • Traveling
  • Attempting to travel
  • Causing another person to travel
  • Trying to make another person travel

Traveling to meet a minor is a second-degree felony with a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Solicitation of Parents, Guardians & Custodians of Minor Children

Under Florida law, it is unlawful to solicit a minor’s parent, guardian, or custodian to engage their child in a sexual act. This crime is charged as either a third-degree felony or a second-degree felony, depending on the defendant’s age, behaviors, and circumstances.

A second-degree felony has a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000. A third-degree felony has a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine of up to $5,000.

Lewd and Lascivious Battery

There might not be actual touching for a person to be charged with Lewd and Lascivious Battery. Under Florida Statute § 800.04, “battery” includes encouragement or enticement.

This statute makes it illegal to engage in a sexual act with a person aged 12 to 15 or an act that forces a person younger than 16 in actions that include “prostitution, bestiality, and sadomasochistic abuse.

Lewd and Lascivious Battery is a second-degree felony in Florida, with a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Child Pornography Charges

Internet sting operations could also lead to child pornography charges. Manufacturing, distributing, or possessing child pornographic images is a felony crime. Exposing a minor to pornographic images of any nature is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of one year and a $1,000 fine.

Collateral Consequences for Sex Sting Charges

Most Florida sex crimes are felonies. Even after serving your sentence, you will be identified as a sex offender and a former felon. Your personal, economic, social, and professional opportunities could be severely limited as a result.

You could lose your right to:

  • Serve in the military
  • Obtain certain professional licenses
  • Live near a school or within the vicinity of children
  • Own a firearm
  • Vote
  • Qualify for student loans
  • Obtain certain government benefits, including housing or food assistance
  • Child custody or visitation
  • Remain in the United States if you are here on a visa or temporary citizenship status

Call a Lawyer for Sex Sting Operations Today

Few crimes are as obscene to the public as sex crimes, and specifically, sex crimes involving children. Even if you are found not guilty, or the charges against you are dropped, you face a lifetime of discrimination and suspicion.

If you are arrested or currently under investigation after a sex sting operation in Sarasota, you need a solid and vigorous defense. Erika Valcarcel is a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney who is familiar with sex sting operation cases.

Call Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. today at 941-363-7900 for a free and confidential consultation. Give yourself the chance to clear your name and protect your future.