In a recent opinion from an Arizona court involving child luring, two of the defendant’s convictions were vacated. Originally, the defendant had been convicted of three counts of luring a minor for sexual exploitation. On appeal, he argued that he did not commit three separate crimes and that his conviction should be changed to reflect the nature of his crime. The court agreed, convicting the defendant of one count (instead of three counts) of luring a minor.
Facts of the Case
The defendant in this case, a Las Vegas resident in his early sixties, placed an advertisement on a website seeking sexual encounters with women. Users of the site supposedly had to agree that they were adults, but the site did not monitor or enforce the age requirement. In an attempt to target child predators, a detective in the Sheriff’s Office responded to the defendant’s advertisement under the name “Sabrina.” The defendant and Sabrina proceeded to send over 1,300 text messages to each other throughout the course of one week. Sabrina indicated she was 13 years old, and the defendant asked if she wanted to meet in person. Over text, the defendant suggested that he and Sabrina “make love” when they meet up.
A few days later, officers arrested the defendant when he arrived at the arranged meeting spot. The defendant was carrying clothing and a purse for Sabrina, a “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” doll, and a Viagra pill. The State then charged the defendant with three counts of luring a minor under the age of 15 for sexual exploitation, as well as one count of attempted sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15.
After having been found guilty, the defendant appealed. At trial, the State had encouraged jurors to convict the defendant of three separate offenses, pointing to three different sets of text messages he had sent to Sabrina. In each of these texts, the defendant described the sex that he and Sabrina would have when they met up in person. Because of the three exchanges, the jurors convicted the defendant of committing three separate violations of luring a minor. On appeal, the defendant argued that he should only be found guilty of one violation, given the texts were part of a continuous conversation showing only one violation of the luring statute.
The court agreed with the defendant, finding that two out of three of his convictions should be vacated. There was no evidence, said the court, to show that the defendant engaged in “separate, distinct” courses of conduct. Instead, there was one consistent string of conduct. The defendant’s goal was to have sex with Sabrina, and this goal became clear through the series of text messages he sent. His attempts to persuade Sabrina to meet up with him happened over a period of 1,300 text messages, meaning he committed only one violation of child luring. The court thus vacated two of the defendant’s convictions and then sent his case back to the lower court so he could be resentenced accordingly.
Have You Been Charged with Child Luring in Arizona?
For many defendants in Arizona, being charged with child luring can seem like an uphill battle. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we are familiar with all the possible defenses you can bring to challenge the government’s case. If you are facing criminal charges, don’t wait: make sure you have a zealous, hardworking Arizona criminal defense attorney by your side. For a free and confidential consultation, give us a call at 480-413-1499.