Online solicitation of undercover police officers.
Lately, I’ve been hearing of “To Catch A Predator” style police operations, where “undercover” police officers are posing as children while trolling online chat rooms and looking for people to catch talking dirty.
The government has been charging this under MCL 750.145a which prohibits accosting, soliciting, or enticing a minor:
750.145a Accosting, enticing or soliciting child for immoral purpose.
A person who accosts, entices, or solicits a child less than 16 years of age, regardless of whether the person knows the individual is a child or knows the actual age of the child, or an individual whom he or she believes is a child less than 16 years of age with the intent to induce or force that child or individual to commit an immoral act, to submit to an act of sexual intercourse or an act of gross indecency, or to any other act of depravity or delinquency, or who encourages a child less than 16 years of age, regardless of whether the person knows the individual is a child or knows the actual age of the child, or an individual whom he or she believes is a child less than 16 years of age to engage in any of those acts is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $4,000.00, or both.
The problem with these prosecutions, is that the accused isn’t accosting, enticing, or soliciting a child. They are accosting, soliciting, or enticing a police officer. Regardless of how unsettling it may be, dark fantasy talk with a police officer is probably protected speech under the First Amendment. Without more than talk, this likely isn’t properly prosecuted under MCL 750.145a in Michigan.
If you have been charged with soliciting, accosting, or enticing a minor, call the criminal defense attorneys at Blanchard Law to discuss your case.