Sarasota Sheriff Targets Gay Men in Park Arrests

About once a year the Sheriff’s department makes a series of arrests of gay men in the South Sarasota County Parks.  The men are charged with a variety of offenses involving lewd behavior or indecent exposure.  The Sheriff’s press release usually claims that the arrests are in response to citizen complaints.  The arrests are an embarrassment to the men, many of which have never been charged with a criminal offense in their lives.  In terms of profiles, most of the men are white, middle to old aged, and otherwise crime free and arrest free.

As a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer, over the years I have defended many men similarly arrested.  The reality is that most of the gay men do everything possible to not commit any crime, particularly in public.  The reality is that gay men sometimes hook up, just like heterosexual men, and most try and keep it a secret and do not openly approach anyone.  In every city and county, there is an area that is known as a hook up spot for gay men.  A better answer might be to simply acknowledge that fact, and tolerate the conduct as long as it does not affect others.  In the parks, the men will often go to a secluded area, away from other people, and do everything possible to not be seen.  I have seen cases where law enforcement places wildlife cameras in secluded areas to capture videos of men engaging in oral sexMany times undercover detectives will approach gay men suggestively, and encourage such conduct, and then arrest them when they respond.

We have limited law enforcement resources.  Personally, I would rather see detectives solving real crimes with real victims, rather than wasting resources prosecuting gay men for attempting to engage in adult on adult consensual sex.  It is simply a matter of law enforcement priorities.

The same goes for prostitution.  It is the world’s oldest profession.  If we had legalized prostitution, it would all but wipe out human trafficking.  What man would risk getting an STD or getting rolled and robbed by a drug addict if he could go to a legitimate house of prostitution where the women are registered, regularly health inspected, and ply their profession in a safe and controlled environment.  Men have been paying women for sex since the beginning of time.  As a sex crime lawyer, it seems to me, that a better answer is to tolerate consensual sexual encounters between consenting adults.

Sex Offenders and Halloween

State and Federal
Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken

October 30 2018

As if life was not already tough enough for anyone designated a sex offender, there is now an all-out push to find another reason to re-arrest sex offenders on Halloween.

The police are going to every registered sex offender warning them that on Halloween night, they cannot have their porch lights on, they cannot open their doors to anyone saying “trick or treat” lest they be arrested. If you are a sex offender and are on sex offender probation, my advice is to totally darken your house, cut off porch lights, have no decorations and do not answer the door. The police will be looking for any possible reason to arrest your and violate your sex offender probation. It was reported on television, here in Sarasota and in Bradenton that the police would be coming to sex offender’s houses checking to see if the sex offenders were passing out candy or wearing a costume.

The law is a ridiculous “feel good” law that serves no purpose.

The truth is that there is a misconception about “stranger danger” and an unfounded fear that sexual predators are walking the street seeking to grab children. I have been handling sex crime cases for over thirty years and have found that in almost every case, the sex crime is committed in the house or home by a relative or friend. Our criminal defense firm in over thirty years has only had one case dealing with a stranger. It is always someone close to the family, most often, a grandfather, a stepfather, an uncle or brother. The “feel good” laws are passed by people running for office and enforced by prosecutors seeking reelection. They do no good whatsoever. Your child is much more likely to be sexually abused by your priest, the school teacher or a trusted family friend than someone designated a sex offender living down the street. For those men who have been to prison and paid their debt to society, continuing a lifetime of public shame is contrary to rehabilitation and serves no purpose.

Do not give the police any reason to arrest you.
If it means totally shutting down the house for one night, do so.
The simple fact is, life is not fair.
The police are not fair and the criminal justice system is stacked against anyone charged with any type of sex crime.

Make sure that you do not fall victim to a police trick or treat crusade.