Defending Minors And Young Adults

Court Explains What Constitutes a Substantial Step Towards a Sex Crime in Florida Case

If the state or government believes a person tried to lure a minor to engage in a sexual relationship, the person can be charged with attempt to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, which is a crime, despite the fact that no actual contact between the person and minor ever occurred. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently evaluated what constituted sufficient evidence of an attempt to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity in a case arising out of a Florida District Court. If you live in St. Petersburg and are charged with a sex crime, it is wise to meet with a St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney to discuss the charges you face and the evidence the state may use against you.

The Defendant’s Alleged Crimes and Conviction

It is alleged the defendant had online communications with an undercover agent posing as a 13-year-old girl. The defendant and the agent communicated through multiple social media applications, where the agent used the name JMK. The conversations were graphic and sexually explicit. The defendant stated that he liked that JMK was young and described the sexual acts he wanted to perform with JMK. The defendant also sent JMK pornographic videos and pictures, including child pornography, and asked her if she wanted to perform the acts depicted in the videos. He also frequently told JMK he was old enough to be her father.

Reportedly, the defendant then stated he wanted to be with JMK regardless of whether her mother was home and stated he did not care what society thought. They began discussing the defendant traveling to Florida to have sex with JMK and the details of his visit. The defendant never traveled to Florida but was arrested at his home once the agent determined his identity. He was charged with multiple crimes, including attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, which he appealed arguing there was insufficient evidence to prove he took substantial acts towards the offense.

Substantial Steps Towards Attempting to Entice a Minor to Engage in Sex Acts

The court noted that to convict a defendant of an attempt to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity the prosecution must show that the defendant intended to commit the underlying crime and took actions that amount to a “substantial step” toward the commission of a crime. To show intent the prosecution must show that the defendant meant to get the minor to agree to engage in sexual activity, as it is the coercion of a minor that is prohibited under the crime charged. An attempt to get the minor to agree to engage in sexual activity is sufficient to show intent. To show a defendant took a substantial step toward the commission of the crime, the prosecution must show that the objective acts of the defendant were criminal and support the required culpability. Here, the court found that there was sufficient evidence to show that the defendant intended to entice the minor to engage in sexual activity. Specifically, he sent her several pornographic videos and asked if she would like to engage in the activity shown in the videos. Thus, the court affirmed his conviction.

Consult an Experienced St. Petersburg Sex Crime Defense Attorney

If you live in St. Petersburg and are facing charges of a sex crime, you should consult an experienced St. Petersburg sex crimes defense attorney as soon as you can to discuss your charges and available defenses. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a St. Petersburg sex crime defense attorney who will work diligently to help you retain your rights. You can reach Mr. Hanlon at 727-897-5413 or through the online form to set up a consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Supreme Court Hears Double Jeopardy Argument in Attempted Sexual Battery Case, September 10, 2018, St. Petersburg Sex Crimes Lawyer Blog

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