18 Arrested In "Operation Guardian"

18 Arrested In "Operation Guardian"

Once again the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has made multiple arrests in a four day internet sting aimed at targeting individuals who allegedly sought out minors in an attempt to engage in sexual acts.

The sting, code named “Operation Guardian,” was a multi-agency operation spearheaded by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the Clearwater Police Department.  As is the case with many of these ‘stings,’ law enforcement posted ads on multiple social media sites and online classified sites in hopes of making contact with individuals seeking to engage in sexual activity with minors.  The ads are posted, the subjects respond to those postings, and an online dialogue ensues.

An interesting aspect of these stings, and an aspect which can often times have a dramatic impact on the successful prosecution of an individual case, is the language and techniques used by the law enforcement “decoys.”  Many times there are legal issues and defenses which can be argued.  Particularly, because of the nature of the sites these “decoy” ads are posted on, language used in the postings, and how the “decoys” direct and lead the conversation, an entrapment defense or other defenses may be available.  Because the cases are so fact specific based on each particular conversation, each case must be looked at individually.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist with looking at the particular facts of a case.

Additionally, these types of cases are taken very seriously by law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office.  Often they carry serious punishments including a potential lifetime classification as a sex offender.  Often times there may be mitigating circumstances of a particular individual accused of these types of crimes.  Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney can assist with this aspect of the case as well.

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime you should seek advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney.  Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Brown & Doherty for a consultation.