Is it legal for an undercover cop to pose as an 18 year old, then entice you into a sexual conversation and photo sharing session?

I answered a post on Craigslist about an 18 year old girl who’s attracted to film buffs, she replied, and we quickly sparked a conversation, which turned sexual at one point and she sent me photos, however, much latter on she reveals that she’s 14 years old and aggressively keeps trying to steer the conversation towards sex. I made the mistake of continuing the conversation and sending photos/videos, but it’s not something I’d ever do. I’m not a pedophile and I’m extremely nervous.

Asked on May 26, 2012 under Criminal Law, New York


Richard Southard / Law Office of Richard Southard

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You were looking okay for most of your question.  As soon as she revealed she was only 14 all communication should have ended.  The fact that you continued to chat, and or send photos/videos opens you up to state and federal prosecution.  Firstly, do not post specific facts about your incident on a public site such as this as the content is neither privileged or confidential and could in theory be used against you.  Secondly, you have a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself.  Do NOT answer any questions or make any statements when law enforcement contacts you.  In fact, you should give serious thought to retaining criminal defense counsel now so that your rights will be protected and you do not help the governement prove their case agsinst you.

Kevin Bessant / Law Office of Kevin Bessant & Associates

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Law enforcement has done this for years, and in the majority of cases the evidence that law enforcement obtains during these undercover sessions is admissible in court because messages and items transferred over the internet, that are generally open to public use and access, do not invade your privacy rights under the 4th Amendment. At the point this person revealed that she was 14yrs old, a minor, all sexual conversations, photos, texts, etc. became illegal communications and you could be charged with criminal sexual conduct of a minor, regardless of the actual lack of physical sexual contact or desire on your part to engage in sexual intercourse or relations. Because this is a very serious offense with could potentially contain serious allegations against you, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney experienced in criminal sexual conduct cases, even if you have yet to be officially charged with any crime.

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