To Catch a Predator?

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by Rammstein, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. Rammstein

    Rammstein New Member

    I'm sure most will know what show I am talking about. For those that don't, here is all the info you'll need: Wikipedia.

    The people posing as children are in fact not children. The accused believe they are talking to children.

    My questions are this:

    If the accused are not actually talking to children, did a crime really take place, or was one adult just having a sexually explicit conversation with another adult?

    Can or should a person go to jail for believing they are having a sexually explicit conversation with a child when in reality they are talking to an adult.
  2. Broadside Bob

    Broadside Bob Member

    Wouldn't that logic apply to most any law enfocrement sting? Prostitution, drugs, etc..

    BTW, did anyone see the show a couple of weeks ago where they busted a guy froma previous show AGAIN? They played the tape when he was first caught, and he said, "Oops. I'll never ever do it again. I promise." On the second show he said, "oops" again. They also pointed out that he had to postpone his second date with a "minor" so he could attend a court hearing from his first arrest. Sorry for the hijack.

  3. Rammstein

    Rammstein New Member

    It could, but I wanted to keep the focus on this specific instance. I think this would be a more polarizing argument.
  4. kkennett

    kkennett New Member

    In general, the law depends on the intent of the person committing the offense. Thus, the distinction between entrapment (police enticing someone to commit an offense they wouldn't ordinarily - illegal), or a regular sting (e.g., standing at the corner looking like a prostitute and waiting for the guy to drive up and ask - legal). Adults pretending to be kids online to catch predators is bread and butter police work, IMHO. Many of the statutues will define the crime in such a way to allow for stings, e.g., offering money in exchange for sexual services, as opposed to receiving sexual services for money. Then, the cop would have to do the services for a crime to be committed.
  5. viper32cm

    viper32cm New Member

    Rammstein what you are describing is the "impossibility doctrine"

    Basically there are two types of impossibility, law and fact.

    Impossibility of law will excuse, because no crime was actually committed, if you think X is illegal but it really isn't what can they prosecute you for, there was no actus reus (bad act) even if you thought you were doing something wrong.

    Impossibility of fact will not excuse. This occurs when a crime would have occured but for the occurance of something that the accused was not aware of. Say you fire a shot into someones bedroom and it strikes thier pillow, but you don't kill them because they weren't there. That's still attempted murder because had the facts of the situation been as you thought they were a crime would have been committed.

    Similar thing here, had the facts been as the molester thought they were then a crime would have been committed. You could argue that it is impossibility of law becasue majority/minority is a matter of legal status and the cop had obviously attained majority, but that's not how it works in practice.
  6. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

    Special Law Allows It

    Rammstein, the Georgia legislature intended to define the crime of sexual exploitation of a minor in a way that didn't require a real minor, but only somebody posing as a minor to catch a pervert. So those kind of "sting" operations are perfectly legal under Georgia law.

    Are they legal under the U.S. Constitution? Why not? Is there a First Amendment issue here, with freedom of speech and all that? I suppose there is an "issue," but it's already been decided. Speech that is particularly harmful to society and not very important for any legitimate purpose can be criminalized. This is especially true when the "speech" is really an attempt to commit a larger crime, or the speech is part of a conspiracy to commit a different offense.

    Is is entrapment? Well, did the officers approach the pervert and suggest something naughty, or did the pervert approach a person he thought was a child and propose something illegal and indecent? Unless the defendant was a wholly innocent person who was tricked into a compromising situation that he had no intent to get into, it's not entrapment.

    Factually, there was no child. Does that mean it is immoral to convict somebody of what is classified as a "sexual offense against a minor" --which then makes the person register as a sex offender for life? Look at it this way. It has always been a crime to "attempt" to commit a crime. Even if you don't actually do the crime you intend to do. So long as you intended to do it, and took a "substantial step" to carry out your wishes, that's enough. There is no constitutional limit on how much punishment an "attempt" crime should carry. Our Georgia statute generally provides that if you attempt to commit a crime, you can be punished up to half of what the maximum sentence would be for the completed crime. But some crimes, such as drug offenses, carry the same penalty as "attempts" as "completed crimes."

    Therefore, it would be just fine and dandy for the legislature to make a law that says "attempted child molestation" is to be punished just as severely as child molestation. They did it for drug offenders, so they can do it for perverts. And who would argue that when a 50-year old guy tells a person who represents herself as a 13-year old girl that he wants to make plans to meet her and drive her to a hotel and have sex with her, he's not taking a "substantial step" toward completing a child molestation offense? Of course he's attempting a child molestation, and the fact that in this particular case it's impossible (because he's not really talking to a child) is not a legal defense. He could get the max-- nearly a life sentence.

    So to me, it's not a big issue that rather than create a new strict punishment for the already-existing crime of attempted child molestation, they just defined "sexual exploitation of children" in such a way as to cover the same offensive conduct, and provide a strong punishment for it.
  7. Rammstein

    Rammstein New Member

    gunsmoker, I agree with you. Furthermore, I think there is a strong argument for putting people who commit these types of sexual crimes away for life. These people have a mental disorder that compels them to high rates of recidivism.
  8. slabertooch

    slabertooch New Member

    I agree with you, when you mentioned substantial step, I could only think of how the majority of these pervs had driven upwards of 3 hours to have sex with someone they thought was underage, sometimes significantly underage. Sounds alot like intent to me, I have no compassion for these people. Granted they are innocent until proven guilty, but they should still be castrated on national television during prime time.
  9. Macktee

    Macktee New Member

    Some years ago I was on a jury where a guy sold drugs to an undercover cop. Only problem was... they weren't real drugs.

    He sold the cop fakes.

    He was prosecuted anyway.

    We found him not guilty. How could he be guilty of selling illegal drugs if the "drugs" were OTC diet pills? We told the cops to take him to civil court if they wanted their money back.

    I don't think the cops or the prosecutor liked us jury people...

    We didn't like being on jury duty, so it all evened out!

    I think I might have the same problem finding a predator guilty eventhough I believe they should be castrated with a red-hot rusty butter knife! The cops could prove intent but could they prove he actually committed a crime? If he's arrested before he does anything, did he break the law? That would be a tough call for me.