A criminal defense attorney’s job is to provide a strategic defense and advice about the legal matters at hand for his or her client; a criminal defense attorney’s job is not to tell the client that the client should not have done this or that. What happened in the past is in the past.
Both the United States and the state of Texas Constitutions provide protections for criminal defendants. The accused is presumed innocent until the prosecution proves him or her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
To that end, when people are accused of being sexual predators for their conversations and conduct online, their criminal defense attorneys do not tell them that they should not have been online in such a forum. It is not relevant to fighting the client’s case in court. This is especially true when the other side was or supposedly was a minor.
Online Solicitation for Sex
The world wide web is vast, and people can connect to others in almost any locale around the world. Some of those people looking to connect are minors. Minors sometimes have conversations with adults that generally start out innocuous and then turn to sexual matters. The adult may offer to send a pornographic picture of him or herself and request that the minor do the same. As the relationship develops, the adult may request that they meet in person.
Commonly, the law enforcement officers pose as minors online to catch adults engaging in such behavior. They send messages as minors and often send the adult to a facebook or similar account that shows a picture of a minor. The adult will often offer to send pornographic pictures, which the police officer, in the guise of a minor, will accept. Eventually, the adult requests that they meet in person for a sexual encounter.
When the adult goes to meet this minor partner, he or she will encounter the police, instead. The police will place the man under arrest. The police will then transfer all the discussions and other files to the prosecutor. The prosecutor will review the material and link the computer’s IP address to the defendant. In addition, the police will provide the prosecutor with the pornographic picture that depicts the defend as the guilty party.
Mistake of Fact Defense
In general, a mistake of fact will be a valid defense in a criminal trial. For instance, taking a gun and shooting at a person but believing that person was a tree is a mistake of fact. Although the defendant committed murder, he or she is not liable because the killer reasonable believed that the victim was a tree.
Here, however, mistake of fact will not be a valid defense. Although the minor was really a policeman and the defendant did not know that he or she was speaking to an adult, nonetheless, the question is whether the defendant would have committed the crime if the supposed facts were real facts.
Accused of a crime? Contact the Dallas-area defense firm of Christopher Abel.
(image courtesy of Sergey Zolkin)