"It is well settled that decoys may be used to entrap criminals, and to present opportunity to one intending or willing to commit crime. But decoys are not permissible to ensnare the innocent and law-abiding into the commission of crime. When the criminal design originates, not with the accused, but is conceived in the mind of the government officers, and the accused is by persuasion, deceitful representation, or inducement lured into the commission of a criminal act, the government is estopped by sound public policy from prosecution therefore.”
The underlying rules on entrapment with internet stings was laid out by the Supreme Court a long time ago by the above cited case. I guess the reason why it has been overlooked is because most attorneys would not think to look as far back as 1924 for the answers to the looming question as if internet stings are actually legal. I will examine this case law and compare it to the way stings are performed to prove that they are illegal.
The most important comparison comes from the criminal design of the activity. The men arrested in internet stings do not have it in their mind to lure a minor to commit illegal acts before they get on the internet and this is evident in the fact that stings are being conducted in adult environments. Furthermore, police officers not only think of the place to conduct the stings, which by itself is suspicious, but also the age to portray the “victim”. Child predators typically already have it in their deranged minds as to the ages of children they are interested in. Secondly, they are not going to be concerned whether or not the child actually consents to sexual acts performed on them or even if they are interested in sex in the first place. Thirdly, child predators usually do not engage in sexual conversations with minors that they intend to victimize so that they can earn trust with the victim and catch them off guard. Therefore, using consensual sexual communications to accuse someone of being a pedophile is completely ridiculous. Finally, a true child predator is going to be much more cautious than to engage in this kind of illegal activity in an anonymous chat room where people are known to misrepresent themselves for role playing purposes. Taking all this into consideration it is apparent that the criminal design does originate with law enforcement and not with the suspects.
The next comparison will be made from the perspective of persuasion, deceitful representation, and inducement. The most important aspect to consider from these three things is deceitful representation because it is the law enforcement officials and them alone that deceitfully represent themselves as minors in adult chat rooms where this kind of false age representation is normal. However, this kind of deceitful representation violates the Constitutional Right to enjoy goods and services equally among fellow citizens because it violates the terms of service agreement due to the malicious intent of the undercover officers to inflict tort on the adult chat room patrons. Some people would say that this type of deceit is necessary when conducting these types of stings and it is but where it becomes illegal is when persuasion OR inducement is used in conjunction with this false representation. According to Newman inducement is not necessary as long as the persuasion by the undercover officer is evident as it typically is in these kinds of internet stings.
Finally, the least important aspect of entrapment is whether or not the men arrested actually were intending or willing to commit crime. The word “intending” can be ruled out because of the simple fact of the place chosen to conduct the stings, in adult environments. These men do not intend on soliciting minors for sex when they get on the internet because if they did then they would go to places where minors are allowed to be. Therefore, the only thing to consider is whether or not these men are willing to commit the crimes and most people would say yes because of the end result of these men showing up to the decoy house. However, this is not true because this is the exact activity that the police scenario was designed to produce and is nothing more than the result of the environment, criminal design, persuasion, inducement, and encouragement.
This simple analysis proves that internet stings (particularly those conducted in adult environments) are illegal but since the public is being lied to about the methods and motivations of these stings they believe that these men deserve what they get and are guilty because the impression is given by law enforcement that they were “caught red handed”. Well they were not caught doing anything but being foolish and letting themselves be persuaded by overzealous undercover agents which is not hard to do. Everyone needs to remember the fact that minors are not involved. Having said that, a law enforcement official is an adult and knows exactly what to say and do to manipulate someone to get what they want, a child typically does not. Not minimizing anything previously said, this fact alone makes these stings illegal because a true attempt at these crimes involves the predator manipulating the “minor” and not the other way around.