As reported in the Houston Chronicle today and by other local media outlets, multiple law enforcement agencies from eight counties near and around the Houston area announced the arrest of 60 individuals for various internet crimes against children. The initiative was part of what the agencies call Operation Broken Heart working through a partnership with the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children task force.
The charges filed include possession of child pornography, online solicitation of a minor, possession of child erotica, and promotion of child pornography. As reported, charges were filed in both state and federal court. A good portion of the arrests were made in Montgomery County where Montgomery County Precinct Three Constable Ryan Gable and Conroe Police Department have been pushing to implement their own Internet Crimes Against Children task force. According to Montgomery County Precinct 3 Captain Dan Zientek, “ICAC is something that all of the constable agencies and the Conroe Police Department have taken on and it’s been a success so far.”
One of the more interesting points about the story is that, as reported, there were over 255 investigations but only 60 arrests. This raises a question about whether more charges could be filed against other individuals or whether this “dragnet” could have possibly caught innocent, unsuspecting individuals.
Also of concern is the fact that none of those accused appear to be afforded much in terms of the presumption of innocence. As Houston Police Department Police Chief Art Acevado stated, “The most important thing to me is getting these criminals, these victimizers, off the street.” He continued, “This is a crime that does not discriminate. These suspects look like you and me; it can affect anyone.”
One thing remains unquestioned: because of the publicity of these types of offenses and the perception associated with them, anyone facing these charges is in for the fight of their life. Possible punishment ranges can be up to life in prison and lifetime sex offender registration. The need for a strong, experienced criminal defense attorney with a track record of success is paramount.
The attorneys features on TXFederalDefense.com routinely represent and defend individuals facing these allegations. There are a number of defenses that can raised as well as steps that can be taken to mitigate and reduce the possible punishment. The most important thing is that you have someone who can assist you every step of the way from arrest to obtaining bail and from investigation to trial, and even on appeal.
If you or a loved one has been caught up in this operation or one like it, contact any of the lawyers featured here for a consultation and to discuss your options.