Last week we had our monthly member call and the topic was online stings. Even though it does not appear as though these bait and switch stings will stop anytime soon, it’s good to see the practice of stacking charges for the same offense being shut down (at least at the appellate level).
This is how the offense begins, “Sarasota Police Department Detective Megan Buck, an internet crimes task force agent, created a profile for “Kelsey” on an online dating website. Although the profile listed “Kelsey’s” age as twenty-two, “Kelsey’s” profile picture was of a girl about fourteen years old.”
Ultimately, the target of the sting was convicted, but the 2nd DCA found that “the factual bases for the trial court’s verdicts on the solicitation and unlawful use counts are not clear and distinct”. In other words, the defendant could not be convicted of unlawful use of a two-way communications device if it was part of the same conduct as his conviction under the use of a computer to seduce/solicit/entice a child conviction.
Not that it makes a difference for his requirement to register, but it could make a difference when it comes to his sentence. The decision is in line with the Lee decision that has been the precedent for several double jeopardy challenges. Hopefully it will teach prosecutors to not stack the charges and not teach law enforcement how to run more creative bait-and-switch stings.