Without Victims, Online Sting Operations Are Leading to Convictions
Throughout the United States, law enforcement officials have created online task forces devoted to targeting alleged sexual predators under the guise of getting potentially dangerous individuals off the streets.
The State of Oregon is no exception.
Officers are posing 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 on their profile. Once the conversation advances and becomes sexual, it is then revealed that the “child” is actually 15, and the criminal pursuit continues as long as the conversation does.
If the individual stops communicating with the “child” they should no longer be a focus of the sting operation.
These conversations often continue as online communication is complex. It is impossible to know if the “child” is underage or not. They have listed their age as 18, then reveal they are younger, which could be misleading in either direction.
The problem is, the “underage” person on the other side of the online or app persona, text messages, or phone calls, 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 be charged with a felony sex crime, which can include Luring a Minor, Online Sexual Corruption of a Child in the First and Second Degree, or 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 Portland criminal defense attorneys in 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.
Crime vs. Punishment: What Are These Individuals Guilty Of?
There are enormous penalties a person can face for situations like these.
In some states, like our neighboring State of Washington, the men caught in these cases can wind up serving more time in prison than men who are convicted of sexually assaulting and raping actual children.
After their time is served, these men are listed on the state’s sex-offender registry for at least 10 years — and often for life.
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.
When convicted sex offenders are added to the sex registry, life becomes increasingly difficult. Landlords may not rent to them. Employers may see their criminal history during background checks, which can keep them from getting a job. Neighbors may view public information during an online sex offender search, where the context of the crime is ambiguous, at best.
Many men 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. After all, the internet does not require users to prove their age, sex, or physically make up for use.
These stings are an efficient way to make high-profile felony arrests and secure convictions for law enforcement officials.
While some of the arrested may see these stings as entrapment, that is also not a reliable defense.
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. There is simply too much at stake for these individuals to face the prosecutor’s office alone.
The Overwhelming Financial & Social Impact of Felony Sex Crime Charges
Sex sting operations lead to the arrests of hundreds of alleged child predators each year, which costs the task forces who run them very little to conduct — netting a high-level of potential offenders for very little investment.
Conversely, the alleged offenders are left footing the bill for more than just their defense attorneys.
The post-conviction expenses that accompany sex crime charges include parole officer fees and state-mandated counseling costs that can run hundreds of dollars each month — for years.
In the long-term, if convicted, the individual loses their ability to acquire professional licenses, and often have real trouble finding work at all. They pay higher interest rates on loans, paycheck cashing services, and other financial requirements since traditional lenders may run background checks that alert them to the high-risk associated with felons.
Financially, sex crime convictions are overwhelming. Socially, sex crime convictions are ruinous.
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.
How Can Mark C. Cogan, P.C. Help With My Oregon Sex Crime Charges?
At Mark C. Cogan, P.C., we 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 obtained outcomes that qualify for expungement, which allows our clients to lead a full life going forward.
If you have been arrested for a sex crime in Oregon contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Mark C. Cogan, P.C. today by calling (503) 827-8092 or through our online contact form to learn more about how we can help with your unique sex crimes case.