How to string along anti-pedophile cops without committing a crime or giving cause to arrest?

Inspired by my old post

and recent threads about the age of consent and sexual crimes against children such as

I ask this:

If one were inclined to want to fool around with anti-pedophile investigators by frequenting chat rooms and trying to find users with profiles listing them as children and stringing them along with the understanding that one might be either speaking to an actual child or a cop, what would you need to do to:

  1. Keep the cop interested in you. That is, you are piquing his or her interest enough so that the cop thinks that you are still an appealing target, even if you haven’t yet committed an overt offense yet.
  2. Avoid committing any criminal offense in the process.
  3. Avoid giving the sting operation cop (if it turns out that it is actually a cop) Probable Cause to arrest you (even if you would be found Not Guilty in the end).

That is, the cop thinks that you are just about to bite, and you play into that, but intentionally stop just before the border where suspicious behavior ends and probable cause for an arrest begins.

If you can speak to just satisfying #1 and #2, that would be interesting as well.

We’re assuming that otherwise, everything is in order in your life (e.g., your hotshot sex-crime cop can’t pull a Law and Order and pretext a search for sex crime evidence (for which there is insufficient cause for a warrant) based around a pretext arrest for an out-of-date vehicle registration that would otherwise have been ignored)


Why on earth would you want to do that?

I don’t actually want to do it in a real sense. I just have an itching curiosity as to how it could be done, kind of like knowing that you can Mess With The Man and get away with it kind of thing. It’s possible that there is no answer that fulfills all the conditions, as any sort of attempt to do this would transgress some law.

That is, if I ended up on the other end of one of these investigations, how long could I last without either being arrested (whether or not I am actually guilty in theory), committing a crime (whether or not I am actually arrested for it), or having the cop cut off the chat because I’m obviously not steering the conversation in the (inappropriate) way he wants it and he realizes that I’m not an appealing mark?

Not only would it be a legal transgression, it would theoretically be impeding law enforcement and wasting resources.

I’m not sure actually that this sort of discussion is allowed on SD. It is certainly creepy.

Hey, this is SD, where you are supposed to be able to find answers to all the odd questions in life that you’ve always wondered about. And, condition #2 keeps us on the side of right, in the sense that we are not talking about how to commit or get away with crime, but rather talking about how to act suspiciously and manipulate cops but in a way that is not illegal.

I’m planning on setting up a honeypot operation where I pretend to be a cop pretending to be a child on the internet. I figure I can waste the time of those attempting to waste the time of the real cops so the cops can get their work done. Should balance out.

On an (only slightly) more serious note, the idea that it’s a crime to talk to someone on the internet with the intention of wasting their time when they haven’t self-identified as law enforcement ought to be considered absurd.

It seems to me that if you plan to take actions that will impede a police investigation, and actually take those actions, at least in Virginia this would give rise to probable cause to believe the crime of obstructing justice, defined at § 18.2-460, has occurred:

Aha very good. :slight_smile:


How does he know if he’s thwarting a cop or not?

How does a person coming to meet a 15 year old girl know if he’s actually coming to meet a 15 year old girl or not? A lot of them suspect it may not actually be a 15 year old girl. So they don’t know.

You can get busted based on what you think, or for meeting with a girl “you believed to be 15” and mentioned something about sex earlier before she called you multiple times begging to come over.

So why couldn’t they be caught for wasting the time of someone they “believed” was police? So even if it was an actual 15 year old girl (ie. the decoy of the cop), it’s still a crime to waste their time because it was of someone they BELIEVED to be police. (can only imagine what might have happened, if that wasn’t an actual 15 year old girl, but was a cop pretending to be a 15 year old girl, and this guy would have wasted the cop’s time).

Following on from the TCAP logic, someone actually argued to me recently that if I slept with girls that were 25 years old or older, but I believed they were under 18, that that would be a terrible crime both ethically and legally. :rolleyes:

He could always say he thought he was talking to a minor and had no reason to suspect it was a cop. Then I suspect he would add that nothing he said was actually illegal to say to a minor… perhaps a bit creepy but not illegal.

Is it illegal to have an explicit sex chat with a minor? I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to send porn to them. I would think a common strategy, if you were worried about authorities, would be to say (in chat) something about how you know she’s an older woman doing some role play. Seems like a pretty weird thing to do tho whether you’re pretending or not. Even if you’re a real perv looking for real 13 year olds I don’t think they’d be hanging around a chat.

What’s your defense going to be? “I didn’t know he was a cop. I thought I was flirting with a real thirteen year old.”

You might want to avoid a jury trial.

If I shot and killed your neighbor thinking he was you, have I not committed a premeditated murder because I got the wrong target? Or has it just been a tragic accident.

Yes. The defense will be just that. Therefore, the charge of knowingly interfering with police investigation won’t stick.

As to the separate charge of flirting with a minor, or whatever that might be called … lewd conduct(?) … all the OP wants to do is go as far as he can before giving rise to probable cause for that crime. If there is no probable cause, I don’t know how this gets all the way to a jury trial.

Where’s the crime here? The biggest problem I see here is that the OP has no idea if he’s wasting his time with a cop or with a bored kid.

The other problem, asked by the OP, is how to have a conversation with an apparent minor (who may actually be a cop and probably is just another older dude messing with people’s minds) where that conversation is “flirty enough” to be intriguing yet not so flirty as to be deemed by a cop as lewd. I have no idea why or how.

How many apparent minors are you going flirt with before you are satisfied you have actually wasted the time of a cop?

The biggest problem - for the OP - is that the cops might tag him as a possible sex offender. That means that if he ever gets into trouble with the law for any reason, he’ll be in for a world of hurt.

Unless you’re the kind of kid who enjoys playing in traffic, it’s best to stay off the police’s radar screen.

You’d find yourself flagged, at least in a locally accessible database, as a potential sex offender, I guarantee it. You’d get some bad press, too. And you may spend a night or two in jail, here in CA, based on the scenario you painted.

Are you telling me you guys didn’t research “To Catch a Predator” to see what kind of time those creeps would do?

No it won’t. It would be that you knew the person wasn’t really underage, but thought it was some adult performing role play. The same defense is the reason it is usually impossible to bust someone until you actually set up the sting. And, even then, they have to wait until you see the child and act as if you think it was them.

And you guys overestimate how well they can figure out who you are. They pretty much wait until you identify yourself. Otherwise you could claim your kid did it. I don’t know if they can put you on a sex offenders list that is publicly available without it being slander. I didn’t research that far. But I do note that “list of possible sex offenders” returns no hits that aren’t wishing one existed or, that only includes convicted offenders.

Now they might keep a private list, but not a public one. At least, not yet.

How is being on a private list better than being on a public one?