Online Stings

Online stings, set up by the police or FBI, are frequent occurrences in today’s computer-driven society. Adults engaged in perfectly legal activities in the privacy of their own homes are often set up by police pretending to be minor-age children offering their services for sexual purposes.

However, to make an arrest, the FBI is required by law to show that they have probable cause that you were committing a crime. Engaging in a conversation in what you thought was a legal chat room with another adult is legal.  If the police do most of the talking, you may have an entrapment defense.

Allegations regarding sexual exploitation of a child can be extremely damaging to a person’s reputation in addition to the severe penalties they may also face if convicted. An attorney can help an accused person figure out their rights and options during a difficult time.

Online Sting Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

If Utah law enforcement has confiscated your computer, you must act now. Call Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law at (801) 243-2814 immediately. Once you are charged with an internet sex crime, you are up against the State’s expert investigators and prosecutors. This will be a tough fight requiring a tougher defense attorney.  

Susanne Gustin’s law firm has years of experience investigating illegal stings and aggressively representing clients to have charges dismissed or reduced to charges that do not include sexual misconduct that can lead to placement on the Utah sex offender registry. If you’re in need of a Internet sex crimes defense attorney, then look no farhter than Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law.

Call today to set up a free consultation to discuss your charges. This firm currently advises clients in the greater Salt Lake County and Davis County areas.

Online Sting Information Center

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What is a Sex Sting?

in what is known as a “sting operation.” In a sting operation, law enforcement must create an opportunity to commit a crime so that they can catch the offender during the commission of the offense. The purpose of these operations is to collect enough evidence that proves the person committed the crime so they can be ultimately be prosecuted. 

Normally, sting operations are designed to catch drug dealers, drug traffickers, people making solicitations for prostitutes, or prostitute rings. However, as technology develops law enforcement have begun to conduct more sting operations online. Often these online sting operations are designed to catch online predators who target children. Law enforcement will have officers pose as children and enter online chat rooms or social media platforms to lure in potential predators. In some cases, law enforcement will set up a complete false website with the promise of illegal child pornography.

Law enforcement use online sting operations to arrest people in various ways, but typically they will arrest the alleged offender by convincing them to meet up with an officer posing as a child online. Once the alleged offender arrives at the location, law enforcement will immediately arrest them on the spot. Prosecutors can then utilize text transcripts or webcam recordings to prove that the alleged offender had a sexually motivated intent when they “met up” with the “child.”

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Sting Operations for Internet Sex Crimes

Susanne Gustin is recognized as one of Utah’s leading sex crimes defense lawyers, with successful outcomes in cases involving online stings for:

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How to Know it’s an Online Sting Operation

Online stings are not easy to spot as law enforcement have specially trained talented and experienced police officers to run their internet sex crimes division. Officers will set up convincing profiles of children and engage in chatrooms where sexual predators may lurk. They will usually initiate conversation and act incredibly excited/naïve to excite the predator. 

After some time, the officer will then attempt to convince who they suspect is a predator to meet up with the “child” with a sexual intent. They may send photos of existing children to the offender or have a program create photos to send to the offender. Certain third-party companies such as Thorn create software that can generate incredibly lifelike images of children that can be used to convince a predator they are actually speaking to a child.

It’s nearly impossible to know if you’re subject to an online sting operation unless you’ve been arrested. That is why it’s incredibly important you secure legal representation if you suspect you may be involved in an online sting operation.

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Penalties for Online Sting Convictions

Online stings are considered an internet sex crime, thus resulting in similar penalties to a typical sexually motivated crime.

Typically, enticing a minor online qualifies as a first-degree felony with penalties of five years to a maximum of life in jail. This offense may also result in a fine of up to $10,000.

In addition to prison time and fines, those accused of a sex crime including online stings, sex offender registry may also be required.

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Are Online Stings Entrapment?

Internet sex sting operations can often put law-abiding adults into a complicated situation. Many people caught up in online sex stings were never interested in possessing child pornography, meeting with minors, or having sexual relations with children. The only reason they have been arrested is because they were convinced/encouraged by law enforcement to commit the crime without knowledge they were undercover.

Thankfully, the state of Ohio does offer the wrongfully accused the entrapment defense. According to the law, a person is not guilty of a crime if, by entrapment, their conduct was induced or solicited by the police. To constitute entrapment, it must be shown that:

  • Law enforcement or a person acting in cooperation with an officer induced the commission of an offense in order to obtain evidence for prosecution; and
  • Used methods that created a substantial risk that the offense would be committed by one not otherwise ready to commit it 

The officer must “induce” a person to commit a crime for the entrapment defense to work. Simply providing a person an opportunity to commit a crime is generally not considered entrapment. The officer must do some sort of action to encourage the offender to commit the offense other than just providing an opportunity to commit it. The defendant must also prove that they wouldn’t have committed the offense without inducement by law enforcement.

For a successful entrapment defense, the defendant’s attorney must prove that the defendant was pressured into breaking the law. Some evidence that may establish entrapment include:

  • Lack of any previous criminal record
  • The defendant was shown to be unwilling to comply
  • Unfamiliarity with the illegal crime itself
  • The defendant had attempted to cut off communication with law enforcement
  • Law enforcement reopened communication after the defendant persistently said no

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Resources for Online Stings

Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) – this state agency initiates stings and investigations on individuals suspected of internet sex crimes against children.– Source for information on online sex crimes

Utah Code– State site for legislation on internet sex crimes and online stings

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Sex Crimes Attorney for Online Stings in Salt Lake City, UT

If you have been charged with an Internet sex crime or another sex crime, you need a defense attorney who can represent you effectively whether at a plea negotiation or at trial. If you have been arrested, the prosecution is already working on your case — you should too. Find an experienced and skillful online sex sting defense attorney with Susanne Gustin. Attorney Gustin has represented people accused of sex crimes for decades and can utilize her skills to help you.

If you want an experienced, aggressive Salt Lake City online sting defense attorney, contact Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law at [[$phone]. Susanne Gustin represents clients throughout Utah, Salt Lake City, and Davis County areas.

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