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Traveling to Meet a Minor

One of the easiest ways for law enforcement officers to make an arrest for a sexually motivated crime is to set up a sting operation. In these sting operations, detectives and law enforcement officers pose as children online to find sexual predators. Sometimes the detectives are overly aggressive and attempt to entrap innocent people who have absolutely no intention of meeting a minor child or doing anything illegal.

The crime of traveling to meet a minor child is charged under Florida Statute Section 847.0135(4). This serious offense is charged as a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison.

Attorneys for Traveling to Meet a Minor Crimes in Tampa, FL

If you are charged with Section 847.0135(4), Florida Statutes, then contact a criminal defense attorney in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida. We represent clients charged with serious misdemeanor and felony sexually motivated crimes throughout Florida and the greater Tampa Bay area. Call 813-250-0500 to talk about your case.

Our attorneys represent clients set up in sting operations for the crime of traveling to meet a minor child in Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, in Bartow or Lakeland in Polk County, in New Port Richey or Dade City in Pasco County, or Brooksville in Hernando County, FL.

During the free consultation, we can talk with you about the pending charges, the ways these cases are prosecuted, the typical penalties, and important defenses that can be used to fight for an outright dismissal of the charges. 

Call 813-250-0500 to talk about your case.


Florida Statute Section 847.0135(4)

Section 847.0135(4), Florida Statutes, criminalizes traveling to meet a minor for the purpose of engaging in sexual intercourse after using a computer to solicit the child. The statute defines the term "child" to mean any person, whose identity is known or unknown, less than 18 years of age.

Many law enforcement agencies throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office devote significant resources "To Catch a Predator" type sting operations. Many of these sting operations involve over-zealous officers with a lack of proper training and experience. Defenses in these cases often revolve around an "entrapment" defense.

Law enforcement officers use many different forms of online communications for the sting operations including internet chat rooms, and social media sites such as Facebook. The officers are known to post ads on Craig's List or Backpage. Once the initial contact is made with the target, the officers often used text messages, email or instant messaging.

During the sting operations, officers will engage in online or electronic communications leading up to a purported agreement to meet for the purpose of engaging in sexual contact with a minor child.

Florida Statute Section 847.0135(4) provides:

(4) TRAVELING TO MEET A MINOR.—Any person who travels any distance either within this state, to this state, or from this state by any means, who attempts to do so, or who causes another to do so or to attempt to do so for the purpose of engaging in any illegal act described in chapter 794, chapter 800, or chapter 827, or to otherwise engage in other unlawful sexual conduct with a child or with another person believed by the person to be a child after using a computer online service, Internet service, local bulletin board service, or any other device capable of electronic data storage or transmission to:

(a) Seduce, solicit, lure, or entice or attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child or another person believed by the person to be a child, to engage in any illegal act described in chapter 794, chapter 800, or chapter 827, or to otherwise engage in other unlawful sexual conduct with a child; or

(b) Solicit, lure, or entice or attempt to solicit, lure, or entice a parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child or a person believed to be a parent, legal guardian, or custodian of a child to consent to the participation of such child in any act described in chapter 794, chapter 800, or chapter 827, or to otherwise engage in any sexual conduct, commits a felony of the second degree....

§ 847.0135(4), Fla. Stat.


Elements of Traveling to Meet a Minor Child in Florida

The offense of traveling to meet a minor child has four elements:

  1. knowingly traveling within this state,
  2. for the purpose of engaging in any illegal act (in violation of chapters 794, 800, or 827, or other unlawful sexual conduct) with the victim after using a computer or other electronic data storage transmission to contact a child,
  3. the victim was a child or person believed by the defendant to be a child, and
  4. the defendant seduced, solicited, lured, enticed or attempted to do so to engage in the illegal act or unlawful sexual conduct.

Hartley v. State, 129 So.3d 486, 491 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014).


Florida's Jury Instructions for Traveling to Meet a Minor Child

Florida's jury instruction 11.17(d) for traveling to meet a minor facilitated by a parent, legal guardian or custodian was adopted in 2009 [6 So. 3d 574] and amended in 2013. The jury instructions contain the following two elements which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. (Defendant) used a[n] [computer on-line service] [Internet service] [local bulletin board service] [device capable of electronic data storage or transmission] to [solicit] [lure] [entice] [attempt to [solicit] [lure] [entice]] a [parent] [legal guardian] [custodian] [person believed by the defendant to be a [parent] [legal guardian] [custodian]] of a child to consent for the [child] [person believed by the defendant to be a child] to participate in [(insert violation of chapter 794, 800, or 827 as alleged in the charging instrument)] [sexual conduct].
  2. (Defendant) then [traveled] [attempted to travel] [caused another to travel] [attempted to cause another to travel] [within this state] [to this state] [from this state] for the purpose of engaging in any illegal act described in [(insert violation of chapter 794, 800, or 827 as alleged in the charging instrument)] [other unlawful sexual conduct] with a child or a person believed by the defendant to be a child.

The jury instruction also provides that the "mere fact that an undercover operative or law enforcement officer was involved in the detection and investigation of this offense shall not constitute a defense from prosecution."

Related offenses include:

  • use of a computer to solicit a child for unlawful sexual activity under Section 847.0135(3)(a), Florida Statutes;
  • using a two-way communications device to facilitate a felony under Section 934.215, Florida Statutes;
  • certain use of computer prohibited under 847.0135(5)(a)2, Florida Statutes;
  • transmitting harmful material to a minor under 847.0138, Florida Statutes;
  • transmission of child pornography under 847.0137, Florida Statutes;
  • possession of child pornography or sexual performance under 827.071(5)(a), Florida Statutes; and
  • solicitation of a child (parent or guardian) using the internet under 847.0135(3)(b) Florida Statutes.

Additional Resources

Florida Statute 847.0135(4) - Visit the website of the Florida Senate to read the complete statutory language for Florida Statute 847.0135 for Computer pornography; prohibited computer usage; and traveling to meet a minor.

Polk County Traveling to Meet a Child Sting - Read more about a recent sting operation to set up men for traveling to meet a child for the purpose of engaging in sexual contact which was conducted in Polk County by the Polk County Sheriff's Office in May of 2017. Read more about criminal defense for crimes involving traveling to meet a child for sex prosecuted in Polk County, FL, at the courthouse in Bartow.


Finding an Attorney for Defense of Sexual Motivated Crimes

If you were charged with a sexually motivated crime such as traveling to meet a minor under Florida Statute Section 847.0135(4) then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We represent clients on serious felony and misdemeanor sex crimes in Florida.

Florida Statute Section 847.0135(4) is a second-degree felony. It makes it a crime to travel to meet a minor child for the purpose of engaging in sexual intercourse after using a computer to solicit the child. The crime is punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison.

Call us at 813-250-0500 to discuss possible defenses to the charge. We can begin your defense today.


This article was last updated on Friday, May 26, 2016.

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