In order to crack down on computer sex crimes, state and federal investigators run online sting operations where law enforcement officers pretend to be minors interested in having sex with an adult. In most cases, an officer will enter a chat room and wait until a conversation turns sexual in nature. Here, an officer may claim to be curious about sex or ask certain questions about sex. If an adult engages in the conversation and suggests meeting somewhere, officers will record his or her IP address and initiate an investigation. A meeting place may be agreed to and then staked out by other officers. When a suspect arrives, he or she will be arrested. Despite the sensationalism of the Dateline television sting operation, these cases involve a number of constitutional and police procedure issues.
At the Law Offices of David S. Shrager, we understand how to challenge allegations the online solicitation of a minor and how to put the prosecution on the defensive. If you've been charged with the online solicitation of a minor, don't talk to investigators - contact Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of David S. Shrager today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case.
Issues that arise in Cases of Chat Room Luring
While the courts have traditionally upheld the constitutionality of law enforcement pretending to be criminals when conducting sting operations, there is often a fine line between enticement and attracting criminal behavior. When an officer pretends to be a minor, how he interacts online with a suspect and what he says is essential: did the officer say anything that was suggestive? Did he advertise an interest in experimenting sexually and ask for interested parties to respond? Or, did the officer avoid asking to engage in sex and wait until an offer was made to him?
Secondly, if you were apprehended at a designated meeting place, the circumstances of your arrest are also important. For example, did you have condoms or sexual aids with you? If not, can the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you then intended to have sex with someone you believed was a minor? Were you apprehended at designated meeting spot itself or some distance away? As your attorney, Mr. Shrager identifies evidence and facts that undermine the version of events the prosecution would have the jury believe.
Sentencing, Abuse, and other Factors in Chat Room Luring Cases
If you plead guilty or are convicted on the online solicitation of a minor, what is presented during the sentencing phase is important as well. Depending on your case and personal history, it may be necessary to have you psychologically evaluated if you were sexually or physically abused as a child. In some cases, a history of depression, mental illness, or drug abuse may convince the court to reduce your sentence. While you'll have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life, serving less time in prison or agreeing to counseling in exchange for probation may be an option.
Contact Pittsburgh Computer Sex Crimes Defense Attorney David S. Shrager
Online solicitation of a minor is a serious offense that could potentially result in a lengthy prison sentence. If investigators have contacted you to ask you questions, contact Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania computer sex crimes attorneys at the Law Offices of David S. Shrager. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can talk your way out of being arrested. Remember, the police may know more about your case than they are willing to tell you. Protect your rights - call our office today if you're facing charges for the online solicitation of a minor.