Since it first came into widespread use, the Internet has been an invaluable tool as well as a liability. Few could have predicted just how vast the Internet would become and what impact it would have on individuals, businesses and governments.
From a law enforcement perspective, the web is seen as yet another “beat” to be patrolled and monitored for illegal activity, with a specialized focus on preventing sex crimes against children. There is little doubt that the internet has made it far easier for certain individuals to procure and disseminate child pornography, to solicit minors and to commit other sex offenses. But to some degree, the criminal activities allegedly being committed online are seemingly facilitated or instigated by law enforcement agencies.
It is common for state and federal law enforcement agencies to conduct “stings” online in order to catch would-be sex offenders. This includes adult officers posing as minors in chat rooms or offering illegal sex services on websites like Backpage.com. They may also try to infiltrate child pornography rings, claiming to have images and videos to trade.
In many cases, these law enforcement actions are perfectly legal. But there is an important difference between a sting operation and entrapment. The latter occurs when a suspect would probably not have sought out or engaged in Internet sex crimes if they had not been approached by undercover officers or agents.
At Buting, Williams & Stilling, S.C., our attorneys understand that alleged Internet sex crimes are rarely a black-and-white issue. There are many shades of gray. We work hard to defend our Wisconsin clients against all charges, including and especially those that were likely the result of law enforcement entrapment.
If you have been charged with Internet sex crimes, it is important to seek legal help right away in order to protect your rights and minimize the impact of criminal charges or a conviction. If you want to learn more, please visit the Internet sex crimes defense page on our website.