The state of Oregon defines the crime of prostitution as making an agreement for money to be paid in exchange for sexual services.
In the past, the police would set up sting operations on the streets, where undercover officers would arrest the “john” who made the agreement and charge them with solicitation.
As technology expanded, their stings moved online, where online ads for escort and massage services that were thinly disguised as prostitution were created by the police. These ads led to conversations where messages were exchanged between both parties and ultimately an agreement would be made, followed by an arrest of the solicitor only — since the “prostitute” was a police officer.
Prostitution sting operations like that continue to this day operating swiftly and resourcefully, as recently in Tillamook, the local police were instructed closely by Portland police on how to run a prostitution sting operation efficiently.
Now, the stakes have grown even higher for our Oregon residents, as the local and state police are creating task forces that design new types of sting operations that involve purported sexual partners, both male and female, who are underage.
At Mark C. Cogan, P.C., our sex crimes defense attorneys in Portland, Oregon defend clients who are charged with traditional and online solicitation and have great success helping our clients minimize their county jail time, keeping them out of prison, and minimize, to the extent possible, the other consequences of these types of situations..
Is it Legal for Police Officers to Pose as Minors Online?
It is increasingly common for police officers to pose as minors online who seek conversations-turned physical with adults during sting operations to catch “child predators” in the act of sexually exploiting a child.
The operation typically begins inside dating apps or online chatrooms where the “child” lists their age as 18 or 19 on their profile. Once the conversation advances and becomes sexual, it is then revealed that the “child” is 15, and the criminal pursuit continues if the conversation does.
If the individual stops communicating with the “child,” they should no longer be a focus of the sting operation, as these online crimes require the person to “know” that the other person in the conversation is under 16 years old.
Police officers are not the only ones posing as someone else online.
Scammers are frequently luring adults into online conversations that turn sexual — often with nude photos and intimate conversations — before a third party intervenes, stating he or she is the parent of the underage child in the photo. The goal is to extort money from the person on the other side of the screen by threatening to report them to the police if they do not pay.
Although different than being arrested, some scammers demand large amounts of money that can place these individuals in financial jeopardy, even though much like the police stings — the underage individual does not exist.
How Do I Know if I Am Communicating With a Minor?
If the person you are communicating with listed their age as 18, then reveal they are younger, the revelation could be misleading in either direction. In short, it is impossible to know if the “child” is underage or not.
The problem is, during these increasingly common online stings, the “underage” person on the other side of the online or app persona, or text messages is an adult police officer, tempting the adult to make a move in their direction.
Once they do, either by physically meeting up with their online encounter, or even appearing in the same location as the “victim,” they will meet their demise.
When the police reveal themselves to the adult, the first response is often stating that the other person’s participation on an 18+ app or website should negate criminal involvement.
This is simply not a robust defense strategy.
After being arrested in a sting operation where there is literally no victim, the person can still be charged with a felony sex crime.
Those charges may include:
- Luring a Minor
- Online Sexual Corruption of a Child in the First and Second Degree
- Attempted Rape of a Child
These charges carry significant punishments, often for alleged perpetrators who have no criminal history.
At Mark C. Cogan, P.C., our criminal defense attorneys in Portland, Oregon represent clients who find themselves charged with difficult scenarios like online sex crime sting operations, so their rights are protected throughout the legal process.
There is too much at stake for these individuals to face the prosecutor’s office alone.
How Can I Be Guilty of a Felony Sex Crime Without a Victim?
Many men and women can have their lives ruined by an online identity — a fake persona — that law enforcement officials, for all intents and purposes, simply made up during a sting operation.
In some states, like our neighboring State of Washington, the individuals convicted of these crimes often serve longer sentences than those who sexually assaulted and raped actual minors.
After their time is served, they are listed on the state’s sex-offender registry for a minimum of 5 years after they have been released from probation or post-prison supervision.
When convicted sex offenders are added to the sex registry, life becomes increasingly difficult.
- Landlords may refuse to rent to anyone on the list after conducting a search during the application process
- Financial institutions may charge higher interest rates on loans after running a background check that alerts them to the high-risk associated with felons
- Employers may see their criminal history during background checks, which can keep them from getting a job
- The conviction can lead to a loss of professional licenses, and being added to the list may make the individual permanently ineligible from acquiring a new license
- Neighbors may view public information during an online sex offender search, creating ruinous social implications
- Post-conviction expenses will usually include state-mandated counseling costs that can run hundreds of dollars each month for years
The reality is, while some may see these stings as entrapment, that is not a reliable defense. These stings are an efficient way to make high-profile felony arrests and secure convictions for law enforcement officials.
If you have been arrested during an online sting, you will need an experienced defense attorney to help navigate the legal system, so you are not left serving a lengthy sentence for an alleged crime that occurred where the “victim” was a police officer.
How Can Mark C. Cogan, P.C. Help with My Oregon Sex Crimes Charges?
Our sex crimes attorneys in Oregon work tirelessly to keep our clients from serving lengthy prison time, often resolving these cases with fewer than 30 days in jail, if they are sentenced to jail time at all.
Next, we focus on keeping our clients off the sex registry, to the extent possible.
At Mark C. Cogan, P.C., one growing area of our law practice consists of defending persons who are accused of online solicitation of minors for sexual activities.
Our criminal defense attorneys handle sex crimes cases like this all over Oregon.
While each client’s defense and potential outcome is different, our goal is to build a successful case where our client avoids prison time and does not have to register as a sex offender.
In some cases, we have also accomplished outcomes that qualify for expungement, which allows our clients to lead a full life going forward.
It is incredibly difficult to get your life back on track after a felony sex crime conviction, which is why it is so important to partner with an experienced sex crimes attorney in Oregon, who has a proven track record of producing positive results.
Call Our Online Solicitation Defense Lawyers in Portland, OR for A Free Consultation
If you have been arrested for an Online Solicitation in Oregon contact our experienced Online Solicitation Defense attorneys at Mark C. Cogan, P.C. today by calling (503) 549-1077 or through our online contact form to learn more about how we can help with your unique sex crimes case.