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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16039
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I placed an ad on Craigslist in the casual encounters section

Customer Question

I placed an ad on Craigslist in the casual encounters section and a person answered with a picture of someone appearing in their twenties. This person when asked what she was looking for said "some good sex" and requested xrated pics. She then text with me a little while. We did not meet. Today I get a text from her father telling me she is 14. There is no text or email in which she identified her age, only identication is a picture of someone clearly older. Am I suppose to be held accountable to someone who approaches me (answers an ad that did not in any way hint or imply I was looking for a minor--because I was not!) when she pretends to be someone she is not?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 8 months ago.
Hello,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am a criminal lawyer.

Did the "father" ask you for money? Did he threaten to call the police, or have the police contacted you?

Use the reply tab below to respond.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.

He threatened to call the police

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 8 months ago.
Thanks for the quick reply.

Last questions:

What state is she located in? How did the call with the father resolve?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.

Ohio


He text me a couple of times "we need to talk". I didn't want to talk to him and told him it wasn't illegal since the only indication of her age was the picture she sent me. His answers were short. I told him if he wanted to call the police to go ahead but reiterated my points. He said "ok" and that was the last thing I heard. Is it illegal what I did if you someone pretends to be an adult?

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 8 months ago.

Hi,

What you want to do from here is to have no further contact with the father, and if the police contact you about this, do not speak to them about the incident. Just tell them that you'll have your lawyer contact them, and then go looking for one.

Sending explicit sexual photos to a minor is a felony and a registerable sex offense. Ohio's makes no allowances for a mistake as to age. There's no requirement, unfortunately, that you have to know the person is a minor. What gives you some mileage is the fact that your ad did not say you were looking for a minor, and it was she rather than you who brought up sex and asked for the explicit pictures. But your position is not a good one if the father really does want to prosecute, so don't compound the problem by making any further admissions to anyone except -- if you need to get one -- the person who will become your criminal lawyer.

This is one of those situations where no news will always be good news. The longer this goes on without contact from the police (they will almost certainly call rather than turn up at your door), the better the chances are that the father will put the blame where it actually belongs and not attempt to have you prosecuted.

Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16039
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
Zoey_ JD and 6 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Just thought about this a little more. The "father's" text to me said call me OR I'm going to the police. I think your original thought maybe correct. First, what information could he get that would make a difference about going to the police if not to ask for money. I did a reverse cell phone search and found it registered to a 40 woman with no relative of the first name this guy gave me. Of the relatives listed none had a Facebook page of a 14 yr old. The main address is a PO Box. So it's sounding more like a scam. But I'm also wondering when you enter the casual encounter section of CL, it says that by clicking below you state you are 18. So doesn't one have a reasonable assumption that people looking, posting and responding are 18?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 8 months ago.
Hi Mark,

Sorry for the delay but I have only just started to answer questions here today.

I was surprised that no blackmail offer was made, as that's the usual thing, but it's hard to say for sure. Your research supports the possibility, but either way, you should have nothing further to do with the man or his so-called daughter. If he makes a blackmail request, you should report it to the police.

Yes you would have a reasonable assumption that people are 18. Again that's helpful, but it wouldn't stop a prosecutor from bringing the charge, as there's a difference between the kind and amount of evidence needed to make an arrest (very little) and the evidence needed to get a conviction (proof beyond a reasonable doubt).

So again, no contact with these people, and no discussions with the police on this incident should they reach out to try to find out what went on here.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you Fran. As I reflect his texts were not angry at all but rather matter of fact short replies. Not the kind of thing I would expect (not how I would have reacted!). I did call the number from another phone (I know!) just to hear a voice and it went into an automated voicemail. Unlikely for a 14 yr old not to her own message and would expect if it was real, parents would have cut that phone off asap. So all of that makes me feel better, but I have learned a lesson. Still remarkable that intent appears meaningless here. How that passes constitutional muster I don't know. No need to respond, I'm just venting. THanks for your help.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 8 months ago.
Hi,

Don't start me on the whole subject of the harshness of the sex offense laws. I am no fan of actual pedophiles, but the laws are so broad that they can ruin the lives of many who they were never intended for.

Be very careful. The web's not safe. Anyone can pretend to be anybody, anywhere else in the world, and if you inadvertently break a law or are dealing with unscrupulous people, the consequences can reverberate forever.

Best luck to you!

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