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Are Police Stings Legal in Sex Crime Cases?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Mar 09, 2020

The police in the never-ending pursuit of prosecuting people for sex crimes are using all sorts of different stings in order to catch individuals who are involved with crimes. To give readers a better understanding of whether police stings are legal in sex crime cases, our criminal defense lawyers are providing a review below.

Basically, what this means that if they're using ruses where they're tricking people in to believing that they are, for example, under-age minors seeking some sort of sexual encounter.

Social Media and Chat Rooms Sex Stings

Then, the would-be defendant has a conversation with them either over the phone, via text, via some sort of messenger, by a snap chat, by a Facebook or some other social media or application, and then they end up for example going to meet with someone who they believe is a 13 or 14 year old for the purpose of having some sort of a sexual encounter, the police are there and they end up arresting the person.

That's one sting that I've seen.  There's a whole host of other stings involving prostitution and chat rooms where police are posing as minors and then the question becomes, how are the police able to do that?

Again, the sex crime cases of all cases that are filed throughout the nation the legislature of various jurisdictions are given the most leeway to violate into people's rights than any other crime that is charged.  So, the answer is absolutely yes they can use certain sophisticated trickery in order to catch people who are committing sex-related offenses.

Now, the question then becomes — assuming they're allowed to do it — is the evidence that they have against the defendant sufficient to convict them of whatever offense they're being charged with.  Of course, that's a different story.

That depends on what they're being charged with, what evidence the police have against them, what type of statements they made, and really in the end, if a jury saw the evidence and the jury saw what happened, would the jury convict the person?  If the answer is yes they would convict the person, then obviously that person is probably going to want to negotiate some sort of a deal.

Defenses for Sex Crime Charges from Police Stings

But there are defenses to these situations where the police are tricking people into becoming involved in serious sex-related offenses.  One defense for example is that the person was entrapped into getting involved with this.

Police Stings in California Sex Crime Cases

In other words, that person would have never committed this crime but for the police goading them into it and really forcing things their way.  One big area I see this in is in the pimping and pandering area where female police officers are posing as prostitutes and then someone will come up and start talking to them.

All of a sudden they're twisting the conversation towards that person agreeing to be the pimp of the woman — maybe drive to a motel and help them in some way and then taking a piece of whatever money they're making on specific prostitution-related activities.

If somebody is stupid enough to agree to that and the police get that on tape, that person is going to be charged with pimping and pandering with a three year mandatory minimum in Los Angeles County. Pimping (CALCRIM 1150) is described under California Penal Code 266h and Pandering (CALCRIM 1151) is described under Penal Code 266i.

Then you get yourself in the position of, well I didn't really mean it.  I was joking or you're trying to come up with some sort of a defense.  The police tricked me.  I would have never done that.

So, these are the types of situations where the police are pretending like they're one of the victims in a sex-related offense and then they're gathering information against a particular defendant and they ultimately end up arresting that person.

So, a long story short, if you are the victim of a police ruse and you've been tricked and you're being prosecuted for a sex-related offense in Los Angeles, California, pick up the phone.

Retain a Sex Crime Defense Lawyer

Let's sit down and talk about how to protect yourself and to see if there are any defenses that might apply to you to see if the prosecutors are going to be able to prove the case against you based on the evidence that they have or whether you have some sort of a defense.

It doesn't always have to be the entrapment defense because that's not always easy to pull off.  You've got to be able to show that you weren't predisposed and ready to commit the crime.

There's a host of other factors you have to show — sometimes just factually you can say, I really wasn't trying to get involved in this and come up with an alternate scenario that the police have not investigated and that the police have not thought about.

That's where you have to bounce it off a seasoned criminal defense who's handled these type of cases, asserted the type of defense that you're attempting to assert and can really give you a good assessment as to whether or not you've got a chance of success or whether it's a scenario where you're not going to be successful.

You're going to end up being convicted and getting a much worse punishment than if you would have just worked out a resolution with the prosecutors in the first place.

This type of information is obviously invaluable from somebody who's battle-tested, been in jury trials in these type of cases and sees what issues the jury will look at — what issues the jury will believe — and of course, scenarios where the jury is just simply not going to believe what a particular defendant is trying to assert.

Hedding Law Firm is a a highly experienced criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are also located in downtown LA at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.