Parents, things have changed since you were in high school. With the explosion of smart phones and social media applications our children have become “sexualized”. Young girls and young boys are sending sexually explicit videos and pics to each other. What parents might not realize is that this is a crime. Do not assume that because your daughter is a good girl and “would never do something like that” it cannot happen. The sexually explicit photos are in fact “child pornography”. Sadly, some young girls, starved for attention, routinely send boys photos, and you would not believe how explicit they are. Boys will be boys and they will not only look at them, they will save them on their phone or computer and then sometimes share them with other guys.
As a sex crime lawyer, I see this every day. Teenage girls sometimes exchange pics with guys on the Internet. This can lead to something much worse. The Internet is a dangerous place and the guy your daughter thinks is her age, may not be. The pics can lead to them “hooking up” and you may wake up some day to find that your 13 or 14 year old daughter is having sex with an adult man. The other great danger for parents is the “hookup” sites for casual sex like “Tinder”. High School and college kids use this site for random sex encounters. I know you are saying, “not my daughter”, but you would be surprised how rampant it really is.
As a parent of a teenage boy, or college student the situation is just as bad. The reality is that the teenage girls lie about their age. Some even have phony identification. Some underage girls go to adult bars and clubs with phony identification. If your son has sex with a 14 or 15 year old fully mature looking girl, he may find himself arrested for sexual battery, and face becoming a registered sex offender for life, not to mention jail. Teenage girls are mentally and often physically, much more mature than teenage boys. With the makeup and suggestive clothing, a 15 year old girl can look, and act 20. They will come on to guys five and ten years their senior. For a young man, the sexual attraction may overcome common sense. Young men think with the wrong head. Make sure your son confirms age, and is really sure, before engaging in sex with any young girl or woman.
Pay close attention to what your kids do on the Internet. They may think it is an invasion of their privacy, but as a parent, keeping them out of trouble or keeping them from getting arrested is more important. Sit down and talk about this to your kids.
Ever since the hearings two weeks ago on the confirmation of the Supreme Court Justice, there has been an explosion of people coming forward, mostly women, claiming they were sexually abused years and years ago.
These allegations are from former employees, family members, former dates, former classmates, stepdaughters, and old girlfriends. How do you defend against someone claiming you did something years ago? The problem becomes a nightmare when the person accusing you claims that they were underage when they claim it happened. It is one thing to defend against something that they say happened last month and quite another to defend against something ten years ago.
For some crimes there is a statute of limitations that gives the State a certain number of years to file the charge. For some sexual battery crimes, particularly when a minor was involved there may be no limit as to how long the State can wait. We have been defending date rape cases for decades.
Sometimes, women do not want to take responsibility for their own actions.
They may say “I was drunk” and you should not have taken advantage of me. They may say that “we were stoned” or “under the influence” at it is your fault. I have found that many times, the accusation is simply false or both people are at fault. Over the years, I have found that many times, it is a stepdaughter simply making a false claim to get rid of her mother’s new partner.
News flash……teenage girls sometimes are drama queens and masters of manipulation. If they falsely accuse their mom’s new man, DCF is called, the police show up, the man gets arrested and gets kicked out and the real dad comes back into their life and to their rescue. They become the focus of everyone’s attention. Sadly many female prosecutors in a knee jerk sympathy reaction believe the false accusation and file the charges.
• Most people don’t have a clue that the cell phone in their pocket is a tracking device. The Supreme Court this week decided a case that requires the police to get a search warrant to get the tracking location information from your provider. The problem is, the police have been doing this for years without a warrant.That is how they put suspects at the scene of a murder, a hit and run, a burglary or a robbery. The cell phone companies know your every move and the police know they can get the information from the cell phone companies.
As a Ft. Myers criminal defense lawyer, in many of my serious cases, I learned that the detectives have gotten this information. How they obtained it may have been illegal or improper and the new Supreme Court opinion will help us in defending cases that involve cell phone data. Some of the departments have been getting search warrants, and some have not.
In a Charlotte county case, a few years back, they put my client at the scene of an aggravated battery by using cell phone tracking data. They claimed that he made a call to an old girlfriend who was in bed with someone else while he standing outside the house. That type of information and evidence is damaging. The jury found him not guilty anyway on other grounds, but the fact that the police can put a person at the scene of a crime with cell phone tracking data hurts.
Keep your mouth shut and lawyer up. It may only be a matter of time until the police come knocking if they get your cell phone information. It is a lot easier to talk to a lawyer before you are arrested.
If you get arrested in Lee County, either in Cape Coral, Ft. Myers or Leheigh, and your offense is a third degree felony or serious misdemeanor, if you do not immediately bond out, you will be taken before a judge within 24 hours. At that first appearance, you may be told that your case qualifies for ERC. That means you could be going to Early Resolution Court. You may be told that you do not need a lawyer and be advised to just “save your money” and take the deal they offer you. That really helps the judges and prosecutors because it makes the cases go quickly and reduces their workload. The truth is that, ERC may or may not help you or be in your best interest.
You may be offered “probation” at the early resolution court hearing. Although that may sound like a good deal, chances are, at the time you are offered that, you probably have not had an opportunity to have had a one on one meeting with the public defender or any lawyer. People often see the public defender for the first and only time in the courtroom. They may only get seconds with the public defender before having to make an important decision that can change their life. Probation may sound good, but it can be a trap. What if you are genuinely not guilty? What if it was someone else’s drugs? What if you really did not commit the crime? What if you are an addict or an alcoholic? What if you had a prescription for the drugs? What if you were only defending yourself? What if the arresting officer lied about why he stopped you? What if it was an illegal search?
If you take a plea deal and give up a good defense, it may be the biggest mistake of your life.
At our criminal defense office we handle probation violations and all too often, by the time people get to us, they have already given up a good defense, taken probation and now violated. Most lawyers, including the ones at our criminal defense office do not charge for an initial consultation. There is no downside to talking to a real good criminal lawyer before you make an important decision. A bad decision may have resulted in you getting arrested. Don’t make another bad decision and give up important rights without talking to a lawyer.
Our Constitution provides that you have a right to an attorney. The law says that “if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you”. The simple fact however is that all lawyers are not created equal. Doctors are not the same. Where would you go if you were really sick? Would you want to go to a really good doctor you selected or take your chances at the Public Health Clinic? That is a no brainer. You should always talk to a good qualified experienced lawyer.
If you get arrested in Ft. Myers, arrested in Cape Coral or arrested in Lee County and you go before a Judge, you may be told that your case qualifies for ERC. Most people do not know what that means. The public defender may tell you that you do not need to hire a lawyer and that ERC is an easy and quick way to end your case. They may tell you that it is the best way to resolve your case.
Here are the facts!
ERC means Early Resolution Court. That may or may not be a good thing. On a positive note, that is an indication that your felony charge is not one of the more serious ones. It might be something like possession of cocaine, grand theft shoplifting, or the illegal use of a credit card or some type of felony battery. Some “plea bargains” are not really bargains. The State may be offering you probation on a charge that they were never going to file anyway. They may be offering you “Diversion” on a case they were going to have to drop. For example, if you were in a car that was illegally stopped, and if the police found some weed or pills in the car, they may have arrested everyone in the car. The prosecutor may realize that he has no case because of an illegal search and seizure or, he may realize that if there was more than one person in the car he has no proof the drugs were yours. It is easy for him to get you locked into some type of probation by offering you probation at ERC.
The number one reason people get arrested in Ft. Myers is for a probation violation. Probation for some people is a trap. For some people, there is no way they are going to make it. If you have an addiction, you are not going to make it. You will get violated. The Early Resolution Court makes the criminal justice system less crowded, and in some instances, if your case is hopeless, it may sound like a good way to go…but…you really should talk to a real lawyer.
Initial consultations are free with most law offices. Call before you make a decision. If you jump on the first deal they offer, you may regret it down the road. There is an old saying that a person should “look before they leap”. If you have not had a private one on one conversation with the public defender about the individual facts of your particular case, how can you make an intelligent decision? Our firm represents people on probation violations all the time. Sometimes, by the time they get to us they have already entered a plea and given up great defenses. You need to talk to a good lawyer before you take a deal….not when it is too late.
Just when you thought the sex sting investigations were beginning to slow down several more Florida Counties ran them this past week.
In Lee, eighteen men were arrested and in Sarasota, it looks like another eight were arrested in a gay sex sting targeting Grinder participants.
The Sting in Lee is the “same old same old” where very experienced undercover chatters rope in the guys with sexual innuendo. News Flash Guys! There are no real young girls or boys who want to get it on with old men. It is always a cop. Over and over men fall for the same old ploy. The girl pretends to be of legal age and then the chatter switches it to 14 or 15. Never, no never, chat with anyone underage about anything, much less sex. The Sarasota operation was one where the undercover chatters on the gay site pose as “twinks” trying to lure in older guys.
As a sex sting lawyerI have handled over 40 of the sex sting cases. Did you ever notice that they only run the sex stings in Counties where the Sheriff is an elected official? For example, where the chief law enforcement officer is appointed and not elected there are no stings. The stings are great for the Sheriff. He can go on television telling the voters he is keeping children safe. There are real predators out there but most of them are too smart to fall for these stings. What the police usually get are gullible insecure men, often mentally challenged or autistic. The real smart predators don’t fall for the pitch. The sex stings are fishing for sharks but catching grunts. The sad thing is, unlike fishing, they don’t throw the by catch back. Everyone gets prosecuted. It will be interesting to follow the Ft. Myers cases to conclusion. What the public never hears is how the police often entrap otherwise shy gullible men into doing something they were not predisposed to do. The best way to not get arrested is to not commit a crime. Never chat with a minor! Never send an explicit pic of your penis! No 14 year old girl is impressed with some old guy’s junk, but the cops are. Sending a penis pic to a minor will get you convicted, put in State prison and make you a sex offender for life. Think twice!
On Wednesday, President Trump signed theFosta lawmaking it illegal for Internet companies to allow ads that facilitate prostitution.
This is just seven days after the men running Backpage.com were arrested. Some of them are already pleading guilty. That put an end to their 100 million dollar business. Craigslist has already taken down their personals. The escorts in Ft. Myers now are going to have to find another way to advertise. They will be forced back into the bars and pick up place and onto the “Dark Web” where the sites are hosted overseas on in Countries without extradition. A 100 million dollar business is not going to just go away, it will just go underground.
As a sex crime lawyer I expect to see the people running the escort sites arrested and prosecuted in the very near future. There are First Amendment issues involved in the new law. It is imposing criminal liability for what someone else posts on a site. The prostitutes are not going to go away. They will just go to Facebook, Twitter and the other social media sites and more carefully word their posts. They will be on the dating sites like “Meetme”.
The new law is going to really take away a major law enforcement tool. Grady Judd is going to lose his ability to run sex stings by having his undercover detectives post on the sites. The law in one respect is good but in another bad. Go online today and type in “Ft. Myers Escorts”. Make a list of the sites you see. I am willing to bet than in ninety days, 90% of them will be out of business. This is going to push the “working girls” back into the bars and on the streets. The law was widely supported because it takes a bite out of the human trafficking business. I have advocated for years that a better solution would be to legalize and regulate prostitution in Florida. They don’t call it the oldest profession for nothing
Police regularly use K-9 partners to track and apprehend suspects who have fled the scene of a crime or done something illegal. In North Carolina this week, the police were called to help locate an autistic child that had gone missing. The police K-9 was allowed to smell his pillow and then released to track the child. The dog found him near the back yard and attacked and mauled the child. This was a horrible misuse of a trained attack K-9. It hardly ever makes the news but police K-9 dogs often bite suspects.
Years ago, on the East Coast of Florida, I did some research on a K-9 dog named Thor. He had been equipped with steel teeth. I found that in an 18 month period, the dog had hospitalized over a dozen suspects. In that case, the handler, had allowed the dog to bite every time he did a track. He did that to hone the basic animalistic tracking instinct. In other words, he let the dog bite the prey as a reward for a good track.
The dog in the North Carolina case should never have been let off leash. Police K-9 dogs are trained go bite and grab and hold. We have all seen the news report training videos where the dog is allowed to attack another officer wearing padded garb. If you have been arrested and a K-9 was deployed and bit you, let me hear about it. I am trying to gather statistics on the number of times police dogs are allowed to bite a suspect.
How many times was the dog allowed to bite?
Did you sustain stitches? Did it get infected?
Were you charged with fleeing and eluding or battery on a police officer (k-9 partner)?
As a criminal defense lawyer, I have found over the years that when a person arrested has to be transported to the hospital, the police to justify the physical injuries often charge a phony charge of resisting or battery to justify what they have done. Let me know if this has happened to you
There is a media push right now encouraging people to stay at the scene of an automobile accident. Florida has over ninety thousand hit and runs, many involving death. The problem is, that if you are reading this blog, it is probably too late. The simple fact is, people sometimes, after an accident, freak out and leave. It may be because their license is suspended. It may be because they were drinking and are afraid of a DUI. It may be because they don’t have insurance or are driving someone else’s car. It may be because they are on probation for something else or because they have alcohol or drugs in their system. The Florida Highway patrol often runs ads encouraging you to come forward and “turn yourself in”. This is particularly true when there is a death. Confession may be good for the soul but it can land your body in State prison. Even if the guilt is eating you up, talk to a good experienced criminal defense lawyer first. Sadly, many Hispanic people because of our immigration laws have not been able to get a driver’s license. They may have been driving without a license. They may be afraid of remaining at the scene of an accident fearing deportation. If your license was suspended or you did not have a license, and you fled or left the scene, talk to us before turning yourself in. Under our criminal justice system, you have a right to remain silent.
If you live in Ft. Myers or Cape Coral and need to speak with a Spanish speaking lawyer, call and ask for Bob Foley. Bob, one of the partners, is a former FBI agent and he speaks fluent Spanish. We have offices both in Ft. Myers and in the Cape.