Over the last several years, the Washington State Patrol has been conducting so-called ‘Net Nanny’ sting operations. Other law enforcement agencies have also joined in, not to mention the federal government.
Undercover officers pose as a minor online and engage in chats with adults. A meeting is set up, allegedly for sex, and when you drive to the meeting location, you are arrested. The consequences of being charged with a crime like this are dire.
We have been fighting these sting operations for over a decade and have proven strategies to defend you.
Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor (CSAM), is a felony sex crime. The allegation is that you offered to pay a minor for some sort of sexual act. In a sting operation such as this, it is actually charged as an attempted crime. This is for two reasons. First, there is no actual minor, rather only an undercover cop pretending to be one. Second, if you were caught up in a sting, then you were arrested before any completed crime could have occurred anyway.
For sting operations such as these, there does not have to be an actual minor to charge you. However, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you believed the person you were chatting with was indeed a minor. With the proper representation, this can be a very difficult hurdle for the State to overcome.
For criminal attempt, the State must prove that you took a substantial step towards the commission of the crime. For these stings, the State typically argues the substantial step is getting into your car and driving to the pre-arranged meeting location. However, since the law states that “a substantial step is conduct that strongly indicates a criminal purpose and that is more than mere preparation,” it can be argued that driving to a location and never even getting out of your car does not amount to a strong indication of criminal purpose.
Contrary to popular belief, entrapment is a very high legal standard and can be difficult to prove. When pursuing this defense, the burden of proof shifts to you (instead of on the prosecution, where it typically is) and you must convince a jury that you had no intent whatsoever to commit any crime but the police essentially talked you into it. Thus, it really depends on the facts of your particular case whether it will be advisable to pursue this defense or not.
The facts of your particular case will dictate what your defense will be. That said, the main three defenses are:
Unfortunately, if convicted of one or more of these crimes in Washington State, you could be looking at a lengthy prison as well as registration as a sex offender. There is often room for plea negotiations, but the offers prosecutors typically give are not what we would consider a good offer. That is why in many cases, trial may be the best option.
Yes, the length of registration would depend on what you are actually convicted for.
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First, don’t panic. Second, hire an attorney. Is this answer self-serving? Yes. Despite this, is it still the best possible thing you can do? YES.
The answer to this varies depending on your particular situation, but there are three universal pieces of advice:
From there, we need to hear more about your individual situation to advise your further. In the meantime, please view our video below on the subject and visit our Under Investigation page.
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