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The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC): Good Idea in Theory. But What's the Reality?

Florida cybercrime defense is often complicated because "everyone knows" that cybercrime is "bad" -- thus, defendants often have to work hard to break through bias and get a fair hearing.

In 1998, the U.S. Department of Justice established a special task force to stop offenders from using the web to exploit or harm children. This well-intentioned group – the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICSC) Task Force -- assists state and local law officers with cases involving internet pornography and enticement involving children.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention funds this force, which provides diverse services to law enforcement, child victimization professionals, parents and educators. Ten years after the ICAC's founding, in 2008, Congress passed a piece of legislation called the “Protect the Children Act,” which established rules for ICAC operations. However, critics argue that both the ICAC and the courts are guilty of ignoring these rules and/or forgetting their intent or relevance.

In a petition penned for Academia.edu (“Florida sting operations explained"), critic Trey Gennette argues that the ICAC task force works off a “quota system” that's designed to spike arrest numbers. He writes: “it is a really simple formula: arrests = $$$.” Gennette says “it is obvious that [ICAC stings] are about funding and are being performed for no particular reason… [thereby] wasting taxpayer dollars.”

Are people going to jail who probably don’t belong in jail?

Gennette goes on to argue: “sting operations are intended to catch criminals, not create them.” He says that law enforcement officers routinely violate ICAC standards, citing a disturbing example out of Georgia: an officer violated the ICAC Operational and Investigative Standards, and her entire task force had to be shut down as a result.

Gennette does not mince words: “in a calculated and premeditated move, law enforcement will ask a target to bring item such as teddy bears, milk, cookies, condoms, etc. as a means to shock the conscience” of the public, who will be led to believe that these entrapped men are pedophiles. Gennette says these men are “being set up – THESE MEN ARE BEING TOLD TO BRING THESE ITEMS and are clueless about their hidden meaning!"

Furthermore, when sting operations do not bring in their pre-established quota, law enforcement “simply put places a more suggestive ad in order to get more responses on sites like Craig’s List, Plenty of Fish, Back Page, etc."

Gennette argues that law enforcement officers want to be able to “bend and break” some of the rules to stop dangerous child predators. An understandable sentiment, in theory. However, “there is no criminal or suspect until they create one by using sex as a mean to lure men into an unsuspecting trap."

Gennette's not the only critic. A Florida appellate court wrote a scathing response in regards to a recent ICAC Task Force entrapment case. The court reversed a lower court’s decision and opined: “the law does not tolerate government action to provoke a law abiding citizen to commit a crime in order to prosecute him or her with that crime.”

This should be common sense. After all, we are not living in an Orwellian novel. We are living in what’s purported to be a democracy governed by laws that protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

If you or someone you love needs to respond vigorously and aggressively to a Florida cybercrime charge, the team here at David Seltzer, PA, would be happy to provide a free and thorough consultation. Call us at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333), or email our team for assistance at any time.

Categories: Cyber Crimes
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