Panhandle Man Accused of Traveling to Orange County for Sex With ‘Underage Girls’

August 16, 2010 by David S. Seltzer

A recent report from the Orlando Sentinel caught my eye as an Orlando cyber crime criminal defense attorney. According to an Aug. 12 article, a firefighter is behind bars after authorities caught him meeting a man for what he thought would be sex with the agent’s 11-year-old and 13-year-old daughters. In fact, the man was an undercover agent for the CyberCrime unit of the Florida Attorney General’s office, and no actual children were involved. However, Paul Joseph Quillen, 41, of Yulee, Fla., was arrested and charged with two counts of soliciting a minor for sex via a computer and two counts of traveling to meet a minor for sex. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted on all counts. Bail is set at $10,000, with the additional provision that Quillen must not have any contact with children or go online if released.

Quillen first came to the attention of the authorities when he joined an online chat room called “fmly excitement,” the article said. There, he met the “father”” who was actually an undercover detective. That person talked with Quillen for four hours. During that time, Quillen sent a picture purported to show his genitals; made salacious comments about the “daughters,” supposedly ages 11 and 13; and offered to perform a sex act on the “father” as the girls watched. He also mentioned having seen his girlfriend’s 10- and 12-year-old daughters naked at a nudist camp. After more communication online and by telephone, Quillen traveled to a Boston Market to meet the agent, intending to go to the nudist camp afterward. Quillen pulled into the parking lot behind the agent’s car, then pulled out and continued driving down the road. He was arrested about a mile away. Authorities found a 9mm handgun in his car, the article noted.

As a West Palm Beach cyber crime criminal defense lawyer, I thought the inclusion of this last detail was odd. If the handgun was legal, and Quillen is not charged with a firearms crime or violent crime, there’s no reason to make a fuss about it. There aren’t enough details in the article to say for sure how I would defend him, if I were his attorney, but I did notice that he seems to have left the Boston Market rather than go inside and have the meeting. If this is the case, Quillen might have a strong defense to the “traveling to meet a minor” charges, which are more serious. The statute makes it illegal to travel to, from or within Florida for the purpose of unlawful sexual contact with a child. If Quillen failed to follow through with the meeting, he could argue that he did not intend to go through with the meeting and thus did not have the intention that the law requires. This has been successful in at least some federal cases. He would still face the solicitation charges, of course, but those are less serious, carrying only a total of up to 10 years in prison.

People accused of trying to meet a minor for sex are not popular in our society. In addition to the harsh penalties laid down by the criminal code, they typically face sex offender registration for the rest of their lives, loss of jobs involving children, social ostracism and sometimes even threats of violence. Nonetheless, our justice system affords them the same right to defend themselves that anyone else accused of a crime would receive. As a Fort Lauderdale cyber crime criminal defense attorney, I cannot overemphasize how important it is for such people to take advantage of that right and get an experienced lawyer, fast. Even if you believe the case against you is airtight, an experienced defense attorney can look for mistakes and civil rights violations by law enforcement, as well as sloppy or overreaching charges. All of these can get a case dismissed or charges substantially reduced.

To learn more about how a Miami cyber crime criminal defense attorney can help defend even a very serious charge, you should call my firm, Seltzer Law & Associates, for a free consultation. Our new nationwide toll-free number is 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333), or you can contact us online or call 1-877-730-3738.