Police Officers Involved in Florida Sex Sting Investigations Have Been Deleting Records

October 22, 2014 by David S. Seltzer

As someone who stands falsely accused of a Florida sex crime, like solicitation of a minor for sex or child pornography, you are outraged and terrified by the charges.

Or perhaps you are a friend or family member of someone who has been charged with sex crimes. This person claims to be innocent, but you're not sure what to believe or whom to believe.

A new report from 10News out in Tampa suggests that police officers involved in sex sting operations “routinely delete emails and other records that Florida law requires them to retain.” Per the 10News report, three separate law enforcement agencies in the Sunshine State admitted they have not saved emails, despite a Florida law that mandates that investigators retain all emails connected with an investigation so that such information “is available when and where it is needed, in an organized and efficient fashion, and in an appropriate environment.”

The 10News team reported on these controversial stings, which seek to arrest and charge men searching online for sexual encounters with minors. They call them “controversial” because they say officers have been artificially boosting their arrest totals. Civil rights activists, many law enforcement personnel, and others in legal community have criticized these stings for targeting men who were not criminals and who were very unlikely to commit criminal behavior.

When Gannett, the parent company of WTSP-TV, asked for information, “many agencies still wouldn't turn documents over because they claimed that the potential targets [who number in hundreds] ignored the advances and did the right thing… were still 'under investigation.'"

These agencies may have actually violated state law. The 10News report quoted Florida First Amendment Foundation’s Barbara Petersen saying “an intentional violation of the public records law – including the destruction of public record emails – is a first degree misdemeanor."

It's curious: In attempting to turn non-criminals into subjects of criminal investigation, these officers may have actually broken law… and become criminals themselves.

For help structuring an effective, smart defense to false charges that you have committed a Florida cybercrime, such as pornography or solicitation, call the team here at Seltzer Law, PA immediately for a free consultation at 1-888-THE DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).