Can an adult be charged if a minor pretends to be an adult online?

Can an adult be charged if a minor pretending to be an adult answers an adult advertisement (ie Craigslist) that leads to texting but no physical meeting (ie meeting at a hotel or personal home) was ever done? Neither parties ever met or had sexual contact.

Asked on June 10, 2012 under Criminal Law, New Jersey


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There are really two answers to your question.  The first is yes, you could potentially be charged.  To be charged, the State faces a much lower burder than the burden of proof required for any conviction.  This means that you could be charged and arrested for trying to lure a child.  However, if they have no proof that you had a "reason to believe" that the person you were talking to was a child, then they cannot convict you or luring the child.  For either stage (charging stage or guilt/innocence stage) the fact that you did or did not have sexual contact is irrelevant.  What is relevant is what you encouraged.  If you encouraged an adult-- then you probably won't be convicted.  If there is an indication in your "chats" that you did know that she was a minor, then you could be charged and convicted.

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