The show “To Catch a Predator” turned cybersex sting operations into a form of reality television and entertainment. Regardless of your feelings about that, the show also illustrated something that’s very important to understand: What entrapment is – and is not.
When people get caught up in a cybersex sting involving minors, they often feel like they’re the victim of entrapment. However, entrapment is much harder to prove than most people understand, and it may not be a wise defense to claim.
Before you hang your hat on entrapment as a defense, it may help to learn more.
How cybersex stings work
Cybersex stings are typically carried out either by law enforcement directly or by activist groups that coordinate with law enforcement. An adult posing as a minor online may engage in conversations with other adults through chat groups. If those chats turn sexual and the subject of the sting arranges to meet the “minor child” for sexual purposes, the authorities swoop in and make an arrest.
Is that entrapment? It depends on the circumstances of the case. It’s important to note that when you claim entrapment, you’re admitting that you committed the crime – but you’re claiming that you were somehow tricked into doing so. Entrapment only happens when the authorities induce someone to commit a crime they wouldn’t have otherwise committed on their own.
In other words, the exact nature of the chats has to be examined in order to determine whether the adult facing charges genuinely thought they were talking to a minor. If so, the next question becomes, “Who initiated the sexual aspect of the conversation?” and, “Who propositioned who?”
If you were caught up in an internet sex sting, you need to know all possible avenues for defense. Exercise your right to remain silent until you know more.