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Law Enforcement Is Currently Conducting Online Sting Operations to Locate Sexual Predators

Interviewer:  I’m going to ask you a few questions today regarding sexual predators. First off, with technology growing by leaps and bounds like it is today, authorities are now conducting Internet sex stings, in which they pose on-line as a minor to lure in sexual predators.  Do you see any of these cases come through your practice and if so, how frequent are they?

There Are Some Groups Seeking Sexual Predators That Falsely Claim They Are Working with Law Enforcement

Adam:  I have handled some of those cases. Sometimes it’s undercover groups which pretend they are working with law enforcement associations and they tell them their IP address is being traced and that they are working with the police.

This Group May Make Contact with a Person Who Inadvertently went to a Pornographic Site and then becomes Worried That He or She Has Broken the Law

So sometimes they are false alarms with respect to what happens, but you still will have an individual a little worried about what the potential penalties and what they’ve probably inadvertently done.  I can say more often than not it just turns out to be a false alarm.

That being said there is more than just a matter of them catching them on something on the Internet.  A lot of times I also see where somebody may have ordered something on the Internet such as a movie or other material that is considered a borderline purchase and some type of law enforcement agency has monitored that. I see these types of cases once a month or every other month regarding one of those two outcomes.

When a Contact from Law Enforcement Is Considered Entrapment

Interviewer:  Now you said that sometimes there are undercover groups that say that they’re working with the police and also incidences of the authorities themselves pretending to be minors on-line. Are those actions considered entrapment?

Law Enforcement Officials Are Careful to Avoid Entrapment

Adam:  It would depend on the exact circumstances.  Usually it’s not because of the fact that you have to convince the alleged defendant to do something for it to be entrapment. The alleged defendant would have to do something that was out of the ordinary. Usually, law enforcement is not leading them along enough to get to that point.

Sometimes they do push the boundaries, especially when it’s one of the groups that don’t necessarily understand the law and what they can and can’t do, so it sometimes I guess it could push on the border of entrapment, but a lot of times it does not.

Communicating with a Minor, Even Unknowingly, Online Can Lead to Charges

Interviewer:  As we all know anyone can lie about themselves online, anything from their physical appearance to their age.  Say an adult is online talking with what he assumes to be another adult that turns out to be a child or a minor. This minor is lying about his or her age, what proof lies on the adult to prove that they are actually talking to another adult?

Adam:  Well, technically they could probably still be in trouble for doing something like that. It’s going to come down to whether the state or the prosecuting agency can prove that they should have known otherwise.

This requires a deeper investigation and it’s probably harder for the state to do that at that point in time if the person is actually operating under the pretense.  If it was a site meant mostly for adults then there are no grounds for them to believe that they were conducting a conversation with a minor.

By Adam Hunt

Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Hunt
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