The Growing Offense of Internet Enticement

by Howard Iken on September 4, 2013

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(US law) Most of us have watched Nightline’s To Catch a Predator.  The series is about chat room sexual predators, and how many people willingly walk into a trap carefully arranged by local law enforcement agencies.

Craigslist, while being useful in many ways, has also been a hotspot for various scams and criminal activities.  Recently, a man was convicted and sentenced to over 10 years in jail for ‘Internet enticement’ or using the Internet to attempt to lure a minor into sexual activity.

Based on information released by the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, the man had put up a personal ad on Craigslist, and when contacted by a 14-year-old boy, engaged in email exchanges and texts that were deemed to be sexual.  The man then drove out to pick up the boy and bring him back to his house, as they had arranged.  However, on arriving at the meeting location, he discovered that the boy was actually a law enforcement officer who had been posing as an underage teenager on the web.

Regarding Internet enticement, there are a few points this case raises that are worth considering.  One important point is that you can be convicted of this crime, and any related charges, even if your contact isn’t with an actual minor.  As long as you assumed that you were communicating with a minor for sexual purposes, and were attempting to induce them to meet with you in person for offline sexual activity, that’s sufficient to get charged.  It doesn’t matter if the in-person sexual activity never took place.

Another important point worth noting is that even if you aren’t in contact with a minor or with a law enforcement officer posing as one, you can still get arrested if, for example, you contact parents, caregivers, or any other adult with the intent of arranging some kind of sexual contact with a minor.

As for the nature of your Internet exchanges, they don’t have to involve visuals such as lewd photographs or videos for the interaction to be considered sexual.  They can be completely verbal, and be conducted on any forum, from a chat room to private instant messaging.

Sometimes, it isn’t clear whether or not an Internet exchange is sexual; the communicated intentions might fall into a gray area.  Other times, you may sincerely not have known that the other individual is a minor child, given the ability of individuals on the Internet to remain anonymous.  Another important, growing issue is the debate on whether innocent people that normally show no criminal disposition are being enticed to commit a crime.

In any case, you’ll need to contact a criminal defense attorney to carefully review all the evidence and determine whether the charges pressed against you are appropriate, and what the best course of action to take is afterwards.  As a general rule though, it’s best not to get yourself into these situations, and to instead restrict your communications to individuals that you know are legally able to consent to sexual activity.

Howard Iken
Howard Iken is a criminal defense attorney with offices throughout Florida. More information can be found at
Howard Iken

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