Investigation of Florida Sex Crime Sting Operations Changes the Way Police Operate

October 27, 2014 by David S. Seltzer

Florida cybercrime and solicitation charges are incredibly serious; if you are convicted, you can face many years behind bars, the destruction of your personal reputation and business, and untold damage to your self-esteem and important relationships in your life.

That’s why when 10News (in Tampa) recently investigated local police sex sting operations, the entire state paid attention. This journalistic sleuthing may have done some good: the news reports appear to have changed how police now conduct sex sting operations.

We reported on some of the methodological problems of these stings in a recent blog post. For instance, investigators allegedly deleted relevant emails, in violation of Florida State Law -- a crime that could technically be prosecuted as a first degree misdemeanor. 10News just reported that “a sting conducted by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and Clearwater Police Department last weekend netted just 11 arrests, down significantly from 30 to 40 arrests most central Florida stings were netting in recent years." The investigators believe “the drop is likely the result of increased attention on the officers' behavior, prompting them to stop boosting arrest totals by bending the rules.”

The investigators also noted “another noticeable change in the most recent Pinellas County operation was how few young adults were targeted. In a drastic shift from previous Florida "Predator"-inspired stings, none of the men arrested were under 28 years old.”

Sheriff Gualtieri, who had been targeted and criticized by the 10News team, seemed to be happy with the results: “The effort from detectives was the same, and we're getting [fewer arrests], so... it’s a good sign… I don't think we were doing anything wrong to begin with.”

Despite these salutary changes -- at least in the immediate wake of the investigation -- it’s highly likely that these sting operations causes multiple instances of injustice. If you or someone you care about got caught up in the dragnet and stands falsely accused of pornography or sexual solicitation of minor charges, the Seltzer Law, PA team can aggressively and effectively help you fight back. Call us immediately to schedule a consultation – 1-888-THE DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333)