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I need to know if something is a crime or not. No charges…

Customer Question
I need to know...

I need to know if something is a crime or not

Lawyer's Assistant: Have any charges been filed? If so, when is the next court date?

No charges have been filed

Lawyer's Assistant: In what state did this occur?

Iowa

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Submitted: 1 month ago.Category: Criminal Law
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
basically I found out today that my boyfriend was trying to hook up with people via the personal's section on Craigslist. He started talking with someone. They exchanged emails, pictures, and other information. They agreed to get together for a hook up. After they agreed to the hook up the other person said they would be over in 30 mins. The other person then said that they wanted to be honest and said that they were 15 years old. At this point my boyfriend did not tell the person to not come over. The other person never showed up. This all happened yesterday Wednesday, December 20th. Today, December 21st, he received a phone call from the other person's father stating that his son stole their car and got into a car accident while on his way to the hook up. The father stated that his wife was a paralegal and that she wanted to get law enforcement involved. He offered an alternative option. He stated that if my boyfriend pay $2400 that they wouldn't get law enforcement involved so that his son and my boyfriend wouldn't have their futures ruined. He even emailed a contract to be signed by both parties. My boyfriend signed it and sent it to him. I've added the file on this site, but I have redacted my boyfriends name. At this point my boyfriend has agreed to pay and is incredibly worried about this entire situation. Basically, what I'm wanting to know is this a scam? It really seems like it is from everything I've read online about other types of scams like this. But perhaps most importantly, did my boyfriend commit any crime by not telling the person on craigslist to not come over after he learned that he was a minor? Just to be clear, there was no sexual encounter of any kind, the other person never showed up. All pictures were exchanged before learning that the other person claimed to be a minor. Thank you for your help
Answered in 38 minutes by:
12/22/2017
Criminal Lawyer: Michael J. Ocampo, CA Criminal Defense Attorney replied 1 month ago
Michael J. Ocampo
Michael J. Ocampo, CA Criminal Defense Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 0
Experience: Former Prosecutor
Verified

I am a criminal defense attorney in California, and can only give you my perspective as it relates to California law.

California Penal Code 288.4(a)(1) prohibits adults from arranging meetings with minors (or persons whom they believe to be minors) for purposes of engaging in lewd and lascivious behavior (read: "hooking up.") To be guilty of this crime, the suspect must have intended to have arranged a meeting with a minor. See also CALCRIM jury instruction 1125.

In this instance, if your boyfriend was not actively seeking out underaged persons to hook up with, then it would appear that he is not guilty of this crime. Much will depend on the words used in the exchanged e-mails and the appearance of the other person in his pictures.

As for the signed statement, it does not help your boyfriend; it incriminates him. Without the full context, the statement, at first glance, appears to be an admission of guilt. Signing such a statement does not protect your boyfriend from criminal charges (if any are warranted here) because only the prosecutor has the power to file charges. Contrary to what we hear on television, alleged victims cannot "press charges." Alleged victims can choose whether they wish to cooperate with the prosecution. But even if they don't, prosecutors can use other evidence to prove their case.

It would be prudent to speak with a local criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the corollary law in Iowa. If a crime may have been committed under Iowa law, then your attorney can serve as a buffer between your boyfriend and the police, thereby ensuring that no more incriminating statements can be used against him.

Best of luck.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I believe the pictures that were exchanged did contain nudity. But it wasn't until after the pictures had been exchanged and a time and place for the hook up been established did the other person say that they were a minor. Did he still not commit a crime. Does this seem like a scam? Should he pay? Are there any easy answers to this whole situation? If he was your client what would you tell him to do? Thank you for your help.
Criminal Lawyer: Michael J. Ocampo, CA Criminal Defense Attorney replied 1 month ago

Unfortunately, an easy answer to this situation can't be given over this message board. The best thing you and your boyfriend can do is consult with a criminal defense attorney in your area who specializes in sex crimes. If you don't know one, you can go to a consumer review site such as Yelp or Avvo.com. You can even check Google. From there, you can establish a short list of attorneys you'd like to contact.

When you meet with the attorney or attorneys, show them the pictures, the ads, and the e-mail exchanges. Attorneys in your state who are familiar with your local laws are in a better position to assess your case. Wiring the money to the author of the letter -- before consulting with an attorney -- would be imprudent.

I understand that this matter is urgent and the need to respond to the letter feels immediate. But I would urge you to consult a local attorney before you make your next move. In the long run, that is what would be best for both you and your boyfriend.

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