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If someone went to a message parlor that was just busted for…

Hi, if someone went to...
Hi, if someone went to a message parlor that was just busted for potential trafficking in NH which is unclear. Would there be enough probable cause to be arrested just by entering building and only set appointment on phone, no texts? If there was surveillance outside would that be enough for an arrest?
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
11/9/2017
RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Good evening,

In my professional opinion, no. Probable cause means a "reasonable belief." Police need probable cause that a crime was committed to make an arrest. This is a much lower burden of proof than what a prosecutor needs to prove to get a conviction, however, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

That said, it still is not probable cause. Merely walking in the door of a massage parlor doesn't give any indication by itself that the person was going to commit a crime. They may not even be aware of what had gone on inside, and could be there just for a massage. Maybe they want to buy a gift certificate, or inquire about pricing. Similarly, walking in after setting up an appointment doesn't prove anything other than that a person made an appointment.

If a person were arrested for either of these things, I think a defense attorney could make a strong argument to have the matter dismissed, absent any other evidence.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
If the massage parlor was not marked as a business and nothing on door indicating it was a business (clearly could see old sign painted over on door and if the online ad indicated more then just a massage. Would that be considered probable cause?

If the police knew about the ad and were watching the place, I'd say yes.

Now there's nothing to suggest that it's a legitimate business, the online ad says they are offering sex, so police know anyone walking up and going inside isn't doing so by accident -they are there to take advantage of what they read about in the ad.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
If the focus of the investigation was trafficking and focused on the trafficker and already went to 5 locations taking people into custody and ad only states sensual full body rubs and nothing more then would there be enough for probable even though the location is not marked.

I still think an argument could be made by a prosecutor that police met probable cause. Probable cause is such a low, low burden of proof. The business isn't marked, so it's unlikely anyone would come from off the street and walk in, not knowing what it was. 5 other similarly related locations all had people in them engaged in being offered illegal acts. Even though the ad says nothing about sex, both the police and the persons frequenting the establishment knew what "full body rubs" meant. If I was a police officer, I'd make that arrest.

Now, as a defense lawyer, I might argue that my client is naive in the ways of the world and believed that sensual body rubs just meant a massage from a therapist, nothing else. And although he thought the building location looked sketchy or questionable from the outside, he was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and was only walking up to the door when police grabbed him.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Would phone calls be proof enough if there was no surveillance at the time?

I don't think so. Unless the phone calls were recorded and what was discussed is known and suggests that the person was going to pay for sex, for example, it's just a phone call. That by itself is not proof of a crime. The person could be calling about what kind of massages they could get, or pricing, or asking about location, etc.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
If the call was recorded and discussed set up an appointment and provided directions no other details would not meet it. Correct?

That's correct.

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