Ryu Connor wrote:
There's not likely an issue, the black letter writing of the law is rarely the full scope or interpretation of that law. Put another way, arguing that the famous SDNY charged you with the wrong statue isn't going to be a winning defense in court. It's more likely that we're laymen, we are, and we don't understand the scope of US federal law.
But, luckily, there is an easy short-cut in most cases (because most cases aren't remotely novel):
"Has anyone else been successfully prosecuted under that statute for a similar situation?"
The answer in this case is YES.
(The argument is obvious: If I hire a pretend intermediary for a hitman, is only that pretend intermediary guilty of "soliciting murder"? I didn't solicit sex-with-child
murder, no I only solicited someone who might do that themselves--yes, the statute might sound like it requires I talk to the actual gun-man, not his non-trigger-pulling driver who is the "business manager", but what meaningful purpose would such a distinction serve
Someone who induces someone else for you is merely your agent. It is still you. You were "arranging" it. The court will likely therefore simply require affirmative proof that you intended this intermediary to persuade the otherwise unwilling children for your later encounter.
I have not read any of the transcripts, but this is something that the FBI would assuredly attempt to procure admissions towards, and they almost undoubtedly got it.
Which is why there are not only ample analogous cases in which this statute has been applied successfully, but a lengthy litany of failed appeals across numerous different circuits.
Ultimately, if they put it in front of a jury, and that jury says "guilty" (which it almost certainly will), that is a strong bar for any later appeal along the avenue of "the statute requires DIRECT communication with a minor".
Well, the jury was read that statute, and they evidently didn't think so, did they? "Technicalities" make great theater, but in reality there is strong pressure to not let horrible people go free because of legal hair-splitting/language wrangling over something that EVERYONE AGREES IS TERRIBLY WRONG REGARDLESS.
Child sex laws are weird in the US (..and in many other places as well).
How so? This is clearly very wrong, and it is therefore very illegal.
What's weird about that?
Not only is there the double jurisdiction thing going on
He was soliciting interstate
, which is inherently a Federal concern.
Also, "double jurisdiction" is not even remotely unique to our supposedly "weird" laws on this particular matter, as it applies to all sorts of situations. For instance, if you pollute illegally you can get in trouble with the Feds -and- your State.
So this really isn't "weird" nor is it remotely unique.
and specifically one "feeding" off of another (Federal off of State/(local) laws like many other nations), the "numbers" are all over the place for the age of consent in the various States (16-18, not including near-age exceptions)
I don't understand this "feeding" comment, nor do I understand how the range of 16-18 is "all-over" the place.
It's actually a tighter range than Europe's, and the average is higher too.
and that's further compounded by marriage statutes (ie. age of consent: sex with a minor who is NOT married to that individual: an exception).
Which is actually the classic example of desuetude. That is, a law that remain on the books (or custom--much of this is baseline common law tradition as opposed to specific statute) but is no longer extant in actual practice (and in many of these cases, superseded by other laws--clarity is lacking only because relevant cases are too)
A number of states don't even have a minimum age for Judicial review.. and some of those States quite likely have "Justice of the Peace" Judges that can perform marriages (and aren't even licensed Attorney's).
All of whom are mandated reporters, which means this is some bizarre theoretical scenario that likely hasn't been relevant in decades.
It's certainly not remotely relevant to -THIS- case:
Look, if a 15 year-old knocks up a 14 year-old in some rural county no one has ever heard of, and they want to get married and both sets of their parents (assuming they care) want them to get married too, look, whatever. Fine. Literally, what's the difference?
They can't get married? Why not?
What does it even mean if they do or don't? Unless we are going to imprison them for the pre-existing crime of either "whoops" or "teenagers cannot have sex!", what societal interest is served?A full grown man soliciting sex with WELL-before puberty children?
Yeah, that's like TOTALLY DIFFERENT, no?Do I have to explain why?
But rereading paragraph #5 completely wipes away all doubt in my mind for this case. I just want to make sure this wasn't a case of entrapment. With #5 sitting there, it is clear that Peter Bright intended to commit the activities.
Entrapment requires that the accused was induced into committing (or contemplating with concrete action towards eventually fulfilling) a crime for which he had no pre-existing predilection. That, but for the suggestion of law enforcement, the accused would never have considered committing such a crime at all.
Since Peter Bright was boasting about his experience in similar crimes, entrapment is already out of the door. Hopefully that was all his imagination, but it demonstrates that he didn't need to be induced towards this sort of thing: He was already interested, to point where he professed his experience! (He can argue, to a jury, that it was bravado and he would never, ever actually do such a thing and never thought it about it at all before etc... Ambien+wine, Alien space-bats!, mean internet-cops, etc... But, on the face of the evidence, who is going to believe him?
Entrapment is a very limited exception, it only exists because the police literally creating crimes that would not otherwise occur is not in the interests of justice.
In reality, since it is essentially an affirmative defense, it entirely relies on the jury sympathetically believing that you're either a small-time crook who got caught up in an entirely different sort of game because the police unduly pushed you, or that you're just an average joe who is easily influenced and would be harmless if just left alone.
CRIMINALS aren't sympathetic to people who solicit sex with children, and the entire category of crime is something virtually no one is going to be believe that someone was unwillingly coerced into it.
This isn't a basic shoplifter who the cops ensnare in a check-fraud scheme the accused clearly doesn't even understand, with the obvious intent of jamming him up on felony charges so that they can turn him against his Uncle who is running major narcotics.
Yes, a small-time crook, but on a jury I'm charged to follow the law and the law will likely, as written, basically exculpate him. It might even be a mistrial, but that for the purposes of the accused that can end up being the same thing if the prosecutors just drop the gambit and let it go.
Peter Bright has endless transcripts of him talking about doing this, and everyone here is already aghast. We have trials because, yes, Virginia, the Government lies, but unless something remarkable happens and this isn't the every-day mundane "To Catch A Predator" sort of thing, he's cooked.