States Target Craigslist for Adult Services Ads
In late August, law enforcement officials in Florida arrested 44 people after conducting statewide prostitution stings on websites like Craigslist.org and Backpage.com, where visitors can place and respond to personal, adult ads.
Suspects travelled to Florida from various states, including North Carolina, to seek out the adult services posted on the websites. Once the suspects arrived, they were arrested after it was clear they wanted to exchange sex for money.
Undercover sting operations, such as these, are common throughout the country. North Carolina, in particular, implemented a dedicated task force, the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) Computer Crimes Unit, to catch individuals suspected of engaging in online crimes.
Entrapment Defense in North Carolina
When a suspect is arrested for a sex crime, such as prostitution, soliciting prostitution over the Internet or pandering, based on an undercover operation, a criminal defense attorney can help. In some cases, the defense attorney may be able to use the defense of entrapment to fight the charge.
In North Carolina, entrapment means authorities purposefully induce or entrap an individual to commit a crime for the purposes of criminally prosecuting that individual. Entrapment usually includes persuasion and trickery by the government agent.
Some argue that the government is inducing the criminal action of prostitution or solicitation by posting the ad on Craigslist and, without that ad, the crime would not have occurred.
Criticism of Craigslist Adult Services Section
In addition to various sting operations taking place around the country, state leaders have targeted Craigslist in particular and asked the site to eliminate adult services ads. In a joint letter signed by the attorney generals of 17 states, Craigslist was asked to remove the adult services section due to its inability to police the illegal activity tied to the adult ads.
On Friday, September 3rd, Craigslist closed its entire adult services section. The site placed a “censored” banner over the section and has yet to comment on its action.
While the adult services section is no longer accessible on Craigslist, the legality surrounding potential entrapment stings continues. Other sites will likely fill the void, even if Craigslist permanently pulls the adult services section. However, those who respond to an adult services ad may find police officers waiting.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for prostitution, solicitation or other sex crime based on an adult services ad, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in North Carolina.
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