Do Internet Sex Stings Catch Real Predators?

Every time an Internet sex sting is run, like the latest one here in Sarasota, elected officials, usually the Sheriff, make press releases making it appear the community is being saved from sex predators.  The simple truth is that the police are creating a crime and most of the time arresting a man who was not looking for a child, or for that matter sex.  Now that Craigslist Casual Encounters has been shut down by the Feds, local law enforcement, to keep the arrest statistics up, has started trolling the regular social media dating sites like or  The pattern is always the same.  First, the detective creates a profile as an adult.  The application may randomly match that profile with an unsuspecting man.  Generally, a photograph is posted with the profile.  Lonely, socially shy men respond and engage in texting and chat.  Eventually, the detective will say something like “I lied, I am really 14” or something like “I am too young to drive”.  Simply chatting with a minor can lead to an arrest.  No adult man should even chat or text with a minor, much less ever discuss sex.  The best way to not get arrested is to never chat with a minor about anything.

News flash guys….There are no teenage girls that are even remotely interested in having an older man teach them anything about sex.  If you are on some dating site and someone mentions or hints that they are underage…terminate the conversation and block them.  It is always an undercover cop.  Some people mistakenly believe that if they ask “are you a cop?” the detectives have to respond truthfully.  That is a total misconception.  Police do not have to acknowledge they are law enforcement.  The Internet sex stings in Sarasota, Manatee and Ft. Myers are not going to stop.  ICAC, the Internet Crimes against Children entity,  funds some local law enforcement activities and the locals have to produce results (arrests).  Naïve young socially inept men are prime targets.  I have defended over forty of these cases, including men with autism and other psychological weaknesses.  The police target the weak lonely men that are rarely real predators.  Never under any circumstances send a naked pic or a dick pic to anyone, even an adult.  The Internet is a dangerous place.

There is now running an Internet scam where the scammer engages a man in chat and sends a naked pic of a teenager.  Shortly thereafter, there is more contact by a person pretending to be law enforcement, threatening an arrest unless money is sent in the guise of some type of “Diversion” program.  Another common scam is when a text or email is sent from what purports to be a parent who has “discovered” his or her child’s chat.  The person will claim that they took the child’s phone or computer and destroyed it.  They will hit you up for money.  The police never, no never, ask for money.  It is always a scam.  Internet sex stings are not going to stop.  It creates arrests and convictions and drives up crime statistics for law enforcement.  A single sex sting can result in 20 to 30 arrests and convictions that render people sex offenders for life.  What we need here in Florida is prevention.  The police need to be in the middle schools warning young boys and girls of the danger of the Internet.  Kids need to be warned that “sexting” with other kids can get them arrested.  Our kids live in a dangerous Internet world and crime prevention should be a priority.  In the average sting, 20 to 30 officers are involved with hundreds of man hours.  That time could be better spent on educating our children, but that does not make for headlines.  What a waste?  The general public is in most instances misled about what really happens in these stings.  There are hundreds of men in Florida prisons who fell for this entrapment ploy.  The Internet Sex Stings need to stop.

Sarasota and Bradenton Criminal Defense Attorney Peter D Aiken 941-366-3506 Representing the Florida Accused

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.

Oxycontin Lawsuit Settled in Oklahoma for 270 Million

The Oklahoma settlement against Purdue Pharmaceutical will have no impact here in Florida.  Did you know that only one in nine people addicted to an opiate gets treatment?  Here in Sarasota and Bradenton, we are still seeing people overdosing as a result of opiate addiction die needlessly.  In the meantime, companies like Purdue Pharmaceutical have made billions in obscene profits.  This is not just an issue of law enforcement, it is a health crisis.  The Florida legislature and law enforcement across the state still does not understand that this is a medical issue, not just a “crime” issue.  The real drug dealers are the huge pharmaceutical companies that started this nightmare.

It was short sighted to simply create a drug database and crack down on the pill mills without dealing with all the people already addicted to the opiates.  They simply switched to heroin and now Fentanyl.  There are no old drug addicts.  The all die.  If you have a loved one addicted to an opiate, they need help and intervention.  Unless and until the addiction problem is dealt with, law enforcement will never make a dent in the problem.  As long as there is demand, someone will provide a supply.

The addiction leads to collateral crime.  Addicts commit burglaries to support their habit. Addicts steal from their relatives and often pawn stolen items to support their habits.  The pawnshops make a small fortune profiting from addicts “dealing in stolen property”.  Addicts get charged with “defrauding a pawn broker” when the pawn shop operators know full well they are getting stolen property.  The bottom line is that we have to treat this as a medical issue and get people help.  As a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer it is my opinion that probation for a drug addict without treatment is a trap and a slippery slope to State prison.

If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and you are an addict, you need help not jail.  If you want to talk or discuss this issue feel free to call 941 366 3506

What is a “domestic battery”?

If you have been arrested here in Sarasota as a result of an argument with a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or live in relative, your booking sheet will probably read: “Battery, Touch or Strike”

If you got into an argument, and someone called 911, chances are, someone is going to jail.  People think that the police will just come out and calm things down.  Most of the time however, when the police respond, someone is going to jail.  The police are afraid that if they don’t arrest someone, and the argument later turns deadly, they will get sued.  Someone is going to jail.  Many times it is the wrong person.  Men are at a disadvantage, particularly if the responding officer is a woman.  Many times the police side with the woman, even if she was the instigator or the real aggressor.  As a Sarasota criminal defense attorney, all too often I see a first appearance judge set a high bond, or set release conditions that make it all but impossible for the parties to reconcile.  In my opinion, what couples need is help, not another impediment to reuniting.

Most of the time, the real cause of the argument is alcohol.  Some people when they drink, get mellow.  Some however get belligerent and are what I call a “mean drunk”.  They may be perfectly normal when they are sober, but can get really mean and nasty when they consume too much beer, wine or liquor.  My bet is that if you or your spouse got arrested for domestic battery, alcohol was a major contributor to the problem.  Another major reason people get into violent confrontations is jealousy, the “green eyed monster”.  Insecurity leads to jealousy.  One spouse may be going through the other’s cell phone, texts or chats and see something and become unhinged.  A lot of battery arrests are the result of a jealous rage.

As a Sarasota criminal lawyer, my goal, wherever possible is the help the parties resolve their issues.  The prosecutors mean well but sometimes go overboard and interfere with normal reconciliation.  If you got arrested for Battery, and want to talk, call 941 366 3506

Why are there so many drug arrests in Sarasota?

Why are there so many drug arrests in Sarasota?

In March, here in Sarasota, arrests for possession of a controlled substance without a prescription skyrocketed.  Most of those arrests were for some sort of prescription medication, in most instances, an opiate.  Many normal everyday ordinary people have become addicted to pain killers in one form or another.  We are still dealing with the problem created by the big pharmaceutical companies years ago.  Some of those companies are now being sued and going into bankruptcy.  That does not help the addicts left behind, now being run through the criminal justice system.  If you have been arrested in Sarasota on a drug charge, things are not hopeless.  You can get help, both legal as well as help in dealing with your addiction.

For starters, if you bond out, you have to address the addiction immediately.  If you get rearrested using again, your bond will be revoked.  You have to stop using.  I know that is tough, but the choice is jail.  As a criminal defense attorney here in Sarasota, I can help you work your way through this problem.  You may be eligible for drug Court.  Most people will not admit they are an addict.  That is the nature of addiction.  If you are reading this as a mother, father or spouse of an addict, you know what I mean.

A conviction for a drug offense can really damage your future employment opportunities.  It can result in a loss of your driver’s license.  Pill addiction is a medical problem that turns into a legal problem.  The answer is not jail, but rather treatment.  If you became addicted as a result of a doctor over prescribing, and when your source dried up, you turned to heroin or fentanyl, your real risk is death.  There are no old heroin addicts.  They either clean up or die.

If you have been arrested and want help, or if you are the parent of an adult drug addict and want to help them, you can call for a free consultation at 941 366 3506

Have a Probation Violation Arrest?

More people get arrested in Sarasota and Manatee County for a violation of probation than any other reason.  The County jail is full of people being held without bond for a violation of probation.  Probation, sometimes is a trap for the unwary.  You may have taken a plea deal to avoid trial or have simply followed the Public Defender’s advice and set yourself up for failure.

Technical Violation

You do not have to commit a new crime to get arrested.  If you do not pay your court costs, if you do not pay the fees for supervision imposed by the Court, if you do not pay restitution or if you simply miss an appointment with your probation officer a warrant will be issued for your arrest.  Simply not having money to pay can get you arrested and thrown back in jail.  Our Sarasota and Bradenton criminal defense firm has been defending probation violations for years.  Do not wait to be arrested.  If you have a problem with your probation officer, call today and we may be able to work it out before you are picked up for a violation.

New Crime Violations.

If you get arrested on a new charge while you are on probation, your probation officer will have you rearrested for a probation violation and you will sit in jail waiting for a hearing.  The new offense may be incredibly minor but if it occurred while you were on supervision, you have huge problem.  We may be able to convince the judge to release you while you wait for a probation violation hearing.  Any conviction for a new offense violates your probation and subjects you to time in either County jail or State prison.  Your sentencing guidelines may have been computed incorrectly or you simply may have not committed the new crime or violation.  Do not wait until your hearing.  Call us now for a free consultation.

Sex Offender Probation Violations

A violation of sex offender probation can land you in State prison.  Often, electronic monitors malfunction and register a false report.  Often, a probation officer fails to write down the details of your request or report to him.  Often the officer is simply out to get you and is searching for any reason to violate you.  You may have missed a deadline or appointment or forgotten to call in or come in past curfew.  You may have been forced to move suddenly and not had time to report the new address.  The probation officers generally are not there to help you and some simply look for some excuse to violate you put you back in jail.  A violation must be willful and substantial and we can many times convince the Court that your situation was accidental or unintentional.  If a loved one is in jail or if you have been arrested on a violation of probation call today.  

Our Sarasota office is on Ringling across from the jail, next to the Courthouse and steps from the probation office.  Call today at 941-366-3506

Sarasota Child Porn Cases on the Rise

State and Federal
Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken


There were two more child pornography arrests here in Sarasota this week.

The State Attorney seems to be continuing to manipulate the guidelines and is filing 40 Counts of second degree felonies in most of the cases. They do this to run up the guidelines to the point that a person faces 30 to 50 years in State prison. There is a real issue as to whether or not this constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the United States Constitution. In Sarasota, a person serves more time for looking at videos than actually having contact with a real child.

The policy here in Sarasota is at odds with what is going on in the rest of the State. How are the detectives making these cases? Let me explain. Every image or child pornography video has a hash value. That is like a fingerprint. When an identified image is transmitted over the Internet, a red flag goes up and law enforcement is notified. I puzzles me why they simply don’t pass a law directing the providers to simply block the transmission. If they can identify it, they can block it. Instead of blocking it, they identify the IP address it goes to and commence an investigation. The local detectives have specially designed computer programs that can come into a person’s computer without their knowledge. The person may not even be awake, sitting at their computer or even home when it happens.

The detectives then get a search warrant and come to the address where the computer is located and often trick the person into making admissions about viewing child porn. The manner in which they do this up subject to legal attack depending on the facts of each individual case. Why is the State Attorney here in Sarasota doing this?

Sadly the State believes that people that look at child porn go on to molest children. The statistics do not back this up. Sadly the State believes that by burying people in State prison for life, they will stop child pornography. This belief is also mistaken. Most of the child porn is created overseas by people that will never get arrested or prosecuted. Also, the State believes that by prosecuting people who view it, they will stop the production. This belief simply is not true. As a sex crime lawyer here is Sarasota, I am doing all I can to educate the Courts and the State with respect to their mistaken beliefs. Many of the people who view child pornography
have been diagnosed as high functioning autistic. Many of the people who view it were victims of child sexual abuse in their childhood. Sadly, many of the prosecutors simply do not understand this.

If you want to discuss this issue or have a friend with this problem, feel free to
contact me at 941 366 3506

Sarasota Police Crack down on Crack

Sarasota and Bradenton Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken
Representing the Florida Accused

The police chief here in Sarasota announced three dozen arrests in the latest crack cocaine operation. For months the police have been making buys and just this week it came to a head with dozens of arrests.
Many people sell cocaine to support their habit. Many if not all of the people arrested had prior arrests and convictions. This comes two days before the United States Senate passed a criminal justice reform bill allowing judges more discretion in avoiding minimum mandatory sentences. Dealing crack ultimately is a one way ticket to prison. If you have been arrested for sale of cocaine or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, it is possible to turn your life around. No one wants to spend life in prison or keep going through the criminal justice system over and over. It is possible to get help.

Many of the crack addicts have switched to Meth which is now much easier to get. In the short term, an addict can support a habit by dealing, but in the long run, it is a one way street, downhill and ends in either death or prison. As a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer. , one of my goals is to try and help people get out of this downhill cycle. If you have a son or daughter that has been arrested for dealing crack and want to talk, give me a call. Most addicts are in denial and often the family has to step up and take the first step in getting them on the right track.

Many of the new arrests are based on what they call “controlled buys” where an undercover cop actually makes a buy, or uses an informant who is wired up with a recording device, to purchase a rock. The police often make multiple buys from the same person to run up the guideline score sheet to make sure the person scores for State prison. There may be a technical defense in terms of an illegal search and seizure or entrapment but controlled buy cases are really tough to defend. The Public Defender is often overworked and underpaid and you want to get a loved one a quality criminal defense or get a loved one real help, often a private good Sarasota defense lawyer is a better answer. It does not cost anything for a free consultation

If you or a loved one has been accused of or arrested for possession of Crack Cocaine or Meth and have questions about what to do next, Please call attorney Peter D Aiken at 941-366-3506.



Holiday Stress and Drinking leads to Arrests

Aiken O’Halloran & Foley
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys
Sarasota 941-366-3506
Ft Myers 239-334-8890
Cape Coral 239-984-4994
Punta Gorda 941-639-6009

Christmas and New Years are supposed to be a time for friends and families to celebrate the holidays. Holiday traffic can lead to “road rage” arrests. Fighting over a parking space is just not worth it. Holiday shopping and the financial stress on husbands and wives can lead to arguments that get out of hand. Throw a little alcohol into the mix and before you know it someone lands in jail for domestic violence. An angry word, a sarcastic comment and a few drinks can lead to loved ones fighting over something that really is not important.

If you get arrested for “domestic battery”, often the judge at your fist appearance enters a no contact order.

That will ruin Christmas for the entire family. At our criminal defense firm, one of our goals is to heal and reunite the family, when possible. Things can really get out of hand. If one person hits the other with any kind of object or weapon, they will get arrested for aggravated battery. If someone gets stitches, someone is going to jail. If a deadly weapon is used, the bail bond is usually high and the penalties are increased.

The holidays are a time for happiness. If a loved one has been arrested and the bond is set too high, a quick bond reduction hearing is necessary. Don’t let a husband, a wife, a loved one sit in jail waiting for the Public Defender to “get to it”. It costs nothing to call most lawyers’ offices for a free consultation. It the person hit was over 65, it is a felony. If the person was a grandparent elderly, the charge may be “elderly abuse”. The holidays should be a time for families to get together and celebrate, not agitate.

From our Criminal law office here in Sarasota ……We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year



Pawn shops prey on addicts

Sarasota and Bradenton Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken
Representing the Florida Accused

November 14  2018

No one can deny we have an opiate problem in America.

We can debate how that came about but we cannot deny it. The drug companies no doubt are the root cause. But drug companies are big and powerful, and like the cigarette companies, for decades, they have bought and paid for the people in politics with campaign contributions. The net result is that millions of Americans got hooked on pain killing pills. The government tightened up on the pills but now the pills have been replaced with heroin and fentanyl. Addicts need money to support their habit.

This is where the pawn shops come in.

Addicts, when they have burned through their money and relatives, turn to stealing. They steal from everybody and anybody. They steal from grandparents, employers, friends, relatives and often during burglaries. They convert the stolen goods to money at the pawn shops. The pawn shops get the goods for pennies on the dollar and sell them at a huge profit. They have to know they are buying stolen goods if the same addicts come in day after day, often with new items, still in the box.

Here in Sarasota and in Bradenton, the police and the State Attorney never go after this link in the crime cycle. They charge the addict with dealing in stolen property and defrauding a pawnbroker, but they never charge the pawn shop operator. I had a case where an addict pawned over $100,000 worth of items stolen from his employer. He went to the pawn shop almost every day during lunch break and pawned brand new items still in the original box. There is no possible way the pawn shop operator cannot know he is buying stolen goods. But who gets prosecuted? The addict does. Under the Florida Sentencing Guidelines, the addict will always “score” for prison because of the multiple transactions. The pawn shop guys turn a blind eye to the obvious, and so do the police

Addicts need help, not prison.

If the police tightened up on the pawn shops and prosecuted them for dealing in stolen property, one of the links in the cycle of crime could be broken. If you have a relative hooked in this drug cycle, it is almost impossible to get them help, until they are finally arrested. When they do, if you can get them a good lawyer, one who really knows and understands their addiction, you might be able to get them back on track. Addiction is a horrible and deadly problem. There are no old heroin addicts. Justice needs to be balanced with compassion.

Drug Court may be an option.

Veteran’s Court may be an option.