What are the legal limits of undercover sex stings?

After the arrests of three men by Secaucus Police, attorney Louis Zayas says the issue is whether or not it in any way created the inducement to have someone commit the crime of prostitution.

Daniel Lopez, 34, of Union City, Juan Hidalgo-Gonzales, 27, of West New York, and Adam Nadeau, 27, of Fairfield were all charged with soliciting/engaging in prostitution, police said.

People may assume that escorts are synonymous with prostitution but they’re not.

“Escort means companionship and that’s not illegal,” Zayas says. “And there are many situations where an escort could be contracted and may lead to sex but sex is not the condition upon which money is paid.”

If you go into a website that is clearly and explicitly a prostitution website, that’s another story.

“Because the person looking for that activity knows what he’s getting into,” Zayas says.

As a former prosecutor, he says entrapment is a factor in every sting operation.

“And you need to be able to make sure that when you arrest somebody, that the person you’re arresting intended to commit the crime before there was any suggestion to them,” Zayas says.

Whether or not police are violating the law or a disclosure requirement by pretending to be someone they’re not – may come down to a federal statute.

“That’s something that could be used to attack the credibility of the police, at trial… that they lied,” Zayas says, adding that he can’t imagine anyone would seriously prosecute the police for impersonating someone that they’re not in a sting operation.

According to Zayas, the Internet is a new frontier for the world’s oldest profession, so it’s a legitimate law enforcement concern to stop this epidemic of human slave trade.

“The key is not to criminalize innocent behavior in the process,” he says.

Jillian Risberg, HCTV






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