Interviewer: In cases where the police are posing as minors or underage and essentially, there’s no victim; how can they be prosecuted?
Tom Chaves: That’s a very interesting and controversial topic. Because although technically you might argue and say “Wait a second! There’s no one who’s been injured by this”, the reality is that the perpetrators are people that are actively seeking that type of activity so that if they haven’t already had any kind of contacts which are illegal with minors, they obviously are seeking future contact, so you’re preventing someone from doing something in the future so that those potential victims or all the people who’re being saved so to speak in advance.
Mostly The Undercover Officers Lure a Perpetrator to a Public Place and Surprise Him with Police Presence
If an undercover police officer is able to actually get enough information against a particular perpetrator and then, is even able to arrange some type of meeting in which the person is surprised by the police presence, that the person had gone there with the purpose of having sex with an underage person, that you can make an argument and say “Well, no one is injured by this” but in reality, there is an injury in terms of what could have been done but for the police’s or prosecutor’s involvement would have occurred not in that situation obviously but in a situation involving someone else.
An Adult Intending To Meet with a Minor For Sexual Activity is Construed as a Crime
Interviewer: What is a standard way of talking to someone online and how does that become a crime?
Tom Chaves: Talking to someone online is not a crime and the idea is that people have to have an intent to meet to have actual sex. It’s not a crime for an adult to speak to a child about inappropriate sexual activity, where it crosses over a line into becoming a crime is when the people, meaning the adult, intends to meet the person, the child, for purposes of having sex.
It is Very Hard To Develop Enough Evidence to Prosecute a Potential Perpetrator in a Sting Operation
There’s all kinds of false identities that are created on the internet and it’s not until such a point in time when the police are able to arrange a meeting of some kind or other and develop evidence to prove that the person went there for the purpose of having a sexual encounter with someone who he had reason to believe was a minor. So, it’s something that can be based on a limited contact, it has to be developed over the time to have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the activity that was going to occur was actually going to be illegal sexual activity because sometimes, the individual take the defense and position that I did have contact with someone on the internet, I wasn’t exactly sure how old the person was, often the people will say “I thought the person was 18 or older”. The secondary part is even if the person is under age, which I didn’t know, that I didn’t intend to do anything with the person, I just intended to talk with them. You have to develop sufficient evidence to make a prosecution stick.