Traveling To Meet A Minor Familial Authority

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

Good evening and welcome to Florida Criminal Law TV. I am your host Stephen Cobb and this is part of our sex offense series. We just finished traveling to meet a minor by someone who is not a relative. Now, we are going to discuss – and again, I am using real-life examples – 847.0135 not 4(a) but 4(b), Traveling To Meet A Minor By A Person In Familial Custody. And one of the strangest cases that I have run across is someone who was charged with this because basically, the parents knew that the young people were having sex, that they were using condoms and if you have had teenagers, you pretty much come to the conclusion that you can control them to a certain point. You can regulate their activities to a certain point. And just as soon as you figure out how to get objectionable material to where it will not come in through the computer or on their phone, they have already figured out how to disable all of that because if they want to do so, they are technologically adept. Think about it.

Most people in my age range and younger were not raised with a cellphone, much less a smart cell phone that is actually a super powerful computer many times more powerful than the computers that landed humans on the moon, which should tell you a lot. Young people are naturally adept at technology. I often tell people “If you are having trouble operating your phone, give it to your 5-year old. They can figure out the problem and fix it”. Well, this particular set of parents, they realize that the child was sexually active and the child had been given a ride by the parent to meet their partner. And sure enough, unbeknownst to the parents doing the driving over, the partner had a parent was home. And parents were under the understanding that the other parents would be there but they got their wires crossed because these were all people who knew each other. And sure enough, what did the young people do? They began sexually experimenting and it happened several times. Low and behold, somebody posts something to social media. And I think all of us of all ages should adhere to the following advice. Do not post crap to social media. Nobody cares what you ate for breakfast or how pretty it looks. Do not put stuff about your medical condition in there unless it is for a specific purpose. Do not talk about your sex life. And sure enough, word got out, word got in a school, somebody was interviewed at school, School Resource Officer was called, School Resource Officer consults child. Child says, “Yes, we did but we are responsible”. And neither of the children were charged, both were 15, the parents who drove them over were charged. I am like what?

And sure enough, we are talking high bond, very, very high bond, difficult to make, we were able to get a bond reduction in that particular case. And the reason we won this particular case and the defense in this particular case is that the parents had no intent and they had no knowledge whatsoever this sexual activity was going on. Because think about it. When teenagers are drinking, do you think the first thing they do is go home to their parents and say, “Hey mom/dad, I got trashed last night. I tried some weed and I had this pill called Ecstasy”, no. We all know the answer to that. Well, the same with sex. I mean a lot of parents will give their children age-appropriate sex education and probably, an equal number of parents are not saying a word, that is the last thing they want to be asked about.

And I have heard stories of some people I know who when they were growing up, just a few years ago, while they are in their 20s or 30s and they would tell me things such as “I was allowed to use a pad but I was not allowed to use a tampon because nothing went inside of the vagina”. I mean obviously, in these cases, there was no discussion of human sexuality. And so, we have large numbers of young people who do experiment and explore and to be quite blunt about it, biologically speaking, not legally speaking, kind of taking my law hat off for a moment, physiologically and biologically, it is normal for 14 and 15-year olds to desire and to actually have sex. It really is. We are designed that way.

Unfortunately, we find the dumbest people we can possibly locate and send them to Tallahassee and other capitals across the United States of America and we send the worst ones, of course, to congress. And as a result, we have laws that do not reflect reality, the baby is often thrown out with the bath water. Common sense is, as Tomas Paine observed a long time ago as well as Ben Franklin, quite uncommon and as a result, we have situations where parents have been arrested not because they were traveling to meet a minor but because they gave a ride to their son or daughter to go visit their boyfriend or girlfriend. These things really happen. And if you or someone you love is asked a question by a school resource officer about your child’s sex life is contacted by an investigator in order to tell your side of the story, your response should simply be “I would like to speak to an attorney” because if you invoke your Sixth Amendment right to counsel, you are not going to wing it and hurt yourself, and secondly, a legal team can better defend you.

My name is Stephen G. Cobb. Thank you for watching. We are going to continue this series on defenses in sex offense types of cases.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.