Internet Luring Cases & Police Stings

Internet Luring Cases & Police Stings

Police arrested a man with a Ph.D. in Colorado on charges of Internet luring for arranging a meeting with a woman and her child, according to this article in an MIT journal.

“Internet luring” is a crime. The crime is when you induce a child, or in this case a mother and her child, to go someplace with the intent of illegal sexual activity. Often, the suspect is not communicating over chat or email with a child at all, but, rather, a police officer.

The fact that a child was never involved is irrelevant because the intent to commit the crime is enough to charge an “attempt” at the crime, which is often as serious, or almost as serious as the crime itself. This makes sense, as in a case when the police catch a bank robber before he goes into the bank, his crime is not complete, but he did attempt it, and was very close to committing the crime itself. In an Internet luring case, the police will substitute a young looking adult, or more common, the adult police officer uses a photo of themselves as a child, referring to it in emails and Internet chats.

In an Internet luring case, much of the evidence is circumstantial. An “IP address” is the network location of a computer on the Internet, and each subscriber is assigned an IP address. Without too much discussion as to the particulars of this and other Internet networking essentials, suffice to say that a computer is generally traceable on the Internet. The government has all the logs and communications between the computers showing, usually, very racy, and sometimes extremely explicit communications. These communications and their content are the heart of proving the intent element of the crime: intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Understanding the concept of how the government must prove intent is the biggest challenge for a defendant. The government is not using these communications to inflame the jury, at least not overtly. The government may want their case against the defendant to look good, and by making the defendant an unsympathetic person through the use of these sexual communications certainly performs that role. However, even if a sympathetic prosecutor wanted to leave these communications out, he cannot, because he needs to prove the defendant’s intent. Without a confession (a statement to anyone regarding his intent), he needs to use this damning evidence against the defendant. Keep in mind that most prosecutors are not sympathetic at all to such a defendant.

There are ways to win a computer sex case, and it all revolves around the facts of each individual case, even if the evidence seems damning.

Does the public and members of the courts believe that such defendants should be on bond? The judge in Mr. Segal’s case did not. The MIT article reported that “Segal was denied bail and remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal, with the court determining that he was a flight risk and that ‘there are no conditions of release that can be imposed, which would assure [Segal’s] continued appearance before the court.'”

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