Offering ride to minor = "Luring"? (legally)

Search for driver in attempted luring of 13-year-old girl in Jackson Township, New Jersey

She was walking along Pitney Lane near Danielle Court in Jackson Township on Saturday around 12:28 p.m.

That’s when the man backed up his SUV to talk to her.

The driver and sole occupant of the vehicle said, “Are you cold? I can give you a ride. Get in my car.”

The girl ran to the nearest house on Danielle Court for help.

Now suppose this guy gets tracked down and says he simply thought she might be cold and could benefit from a ride. Is that a crime anyway? Or would any criminal charges and possible conviction be entirely based on a belief (presumably proved beyond reasonable doubt) that the guy has nefarious intentions?

If I’m reading correctly, the luring has to be for the purpose of committing a criminal offense.

A person commits a crime of the second degree if he attempts, via electronic or any other means, to lure or entice a child or one who he reasonably believes to be a child into a motor vehicle, structure or isolated area, or to meet or appear at any other place, with a purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the child.

How does one prove intent to commit a criminal offense against a child if they didn’t commit any criminal offense? Sounds like the sort of thing that gets tacked on to a much more serious crime after the fact.

They’ll probably get him for some car stuff, check him for priors and if he’s clean, hopefully scare the crap out of him to not offer rides to 13 year old girls (who don’t know him especially).

I lived next to Jackson many years ago. The Howell and Jackson cops are pretty good.

His (apparently) fake license plate for instance: “The teen managed to snap several pictures of the vehicle, which had invalid license plates.

His “invalid” license could have just been expired plates.

But there are a number of things that a person could have that might point to nefarious intent - invalid (especially stolen or fake) license plates, unable to explain why he was in that particular area (what his phone records might show about his movements), prior interactions with law enforcement (has he done this before?), exactly what he said, etc. One by itself might not rise to the level of chargeable offense or beyond reasonable doubt, but several together might.

I guess the other question is, do police keep a record of “informal watch list” for people who could be potential sex offenders but not convicted of anything?

That approach makes me very uncomfortable. That sounds pretty much exactly like how racial profiling works.

Once, when I was about 12-ish, I went for a long walk. A guy started following me in his car. Initially, I thought it was someone I knew and I approached the car. When I realized it was a stranger, I ran. The guy reversed and turned around and followed me for half a mile until I came up to a family playing basketball in their driveway.

I’ve never regretted running. I’m glad she ran, too.

As for this guy - he literally tried to lure the girl into his car. He just straight up ordered her to get in. That is not helpful or benevolent behavior. If the state can’t prove intent, well, he gets lucky, then. Hopefully, his luck will run out before he finds a more vulnerable child.

Profiling based on behaviors is fine. Profiling based on race is not. Those are very different.

Maybe, but I can’t be sure.

There’s nothing wrong or “luring” about offering someone a ride on a cold day. It’s not clear to me whether “Get in my car” was an order or an offer. And presumably we only have the girl’s report of how the encounter went down. It’s possible that what was intended by the driver as a kind offer was interpreted by the girl as a threatening order.

Still, there was enough about the encounter to make the girl suspicious, and probably her instincts were good and she was right to be suspicious.

Isn’t that just building a case? One little thing doesn’t allow you to all the power in the world, it’s just gets you to the next step. The girls testimony allows you to detain and question the guy. You find the bad license plate and it allows you to search the car. [Hypothetically] You find gloves and duct tape or some other evidence in the car and then you can take that to the judge to get access to his cell phone, or house or whatever.

People who go to jail after being racially profiled are still going to jail for an actual crime. Racial profiling just puts an unacceptable bias in the sample (ignoring the overreach of authority). If 10% of people are rolling around with drugs, but 2/3rds of time you are looking only at black people. It will show that 2/3s of drug crime is from black people. That is then used to justify more racial profiling. Racial profiling starts the process of building a case on the race of the person.

But that’s exactly what police who engage in racial profiling will say they’re doing - profiling on “behavior.” But look at the actual “behaviors” that are being profiled:

unable to explain why he was in that particular area

A demand by police to explain your presence in the “wrong” neighborhood is probably the single most prominent racial profiling practice. The idea that someone being unable or unwilling to articulate on demand why they are in a particular public area where they have every legal right to be is grounds for criminal suspicion seems pretty pernicious to me.

prior interactions with law enforcement

Treating the fact that you’ve been stopped by police before as a grounds for suspicion pretty obviously creates a vicious cycle. Now, to be fair to @md-2000, they do elaborate,

(has he done this before?)

Which is admittedly quite different than just looking at if they’ve had previous interactions with law enforcement. Still, the idea that previous interactions with law enforcment that didn’t even result in charges, much less conviction for a crime, should be used as grounds for suspicion of criminal intent makes me pretty uncomfortable.

exactly what he said

This one seems perfectly reasonable.

I guess the other question is, do police keep a record of “informal watch list” for people who could be potential sex offenders but not convicted of anything?

And now we’re back to me being uncomfortable with this approach. A double-secret probation list of “known troublemakers” and “the usual suspects”, of people who haven’t actually been convicted of anything, but who police think could be potential sex offenders? And using someone’s presence on a list like that as grounds for suspicion of criminal intent? Yeah, that makes me very uncomfortable.

Ok, but, well, see above. @md-2000 didn’t suggest that the girl’s testimony and the expired plates should be used as factors to justify a search for physical evidence - they suggested being in the wrong neighborhood, having previous interactions with law enforcement, and being on a secret watch list should be factors in establishing criminal intent.

Yes he was luring and probably leering at the little girl.

She was not flagging down cars, she was walking along alone.

Any one who pulls up unannounced, unexpected and interferes with you and makes assumptions about your person then directs you to enter the vehicle is a scumbag not fit to lie with worms.

Rather the worm should call 911 and wait to tell it’s story of genuine concern to a public safety officer.

911? I don’t see that as a emergency.

I would consider asking “do you need any help?”, but offering a ride is just plain wrong.

But why make contact at all? Just don’t. Don’t assume a young person needs help because they’re alone walking outside, in weather.

Yeah don’t call 911, what would you say? Nothing to report, so move along.

I mean if it was cold enough to actually consider for a second giving a child you don’t know ride (as in you actually thought they were in danger of exposure or hypothermia) then absolutely calling 911 is the right thing to do.

Not that it sounds like this is the case here.

According to weather underground, it was 62 F at 12:28 on Oct 30. 62 in late October in NJ is freaking balmy.

To clarify - it’s not one thing, or two things, or even 3 things - it’s the totality and unusualness of the whole situation.

Indeed, every interaction with police in the last decades goes into a database. For example, a few years ago a woman was denied entry into the United States from Canada because CBP deemed her “mentally unstable”. Apparently, a year before she’d attempted suicide. The database that police and CBP have access to from both sides of the border appears to include all names associated with law enforcement interactions, including 911 calls (someone had called 911 for an ambulance when she tried to commit suicide.)

I assume every interaction with police goes into a permanent database in any jurisdiction where police reports are electronic, whether the public has access or not. Thus, when for example, someone from Florida goes missing allegedly in Wyoming, Utah police can immediately produce evidence what happened with their encounter.

Yes, a person have every right to refuse to answer questions when confronted by police. In this case, probably the best move if the fellow was caught - he can only dig himself in deeper trying to explain, if he really was guilty. If he was innocent, then (maybe!!) trying to explain his presence would be helpful. Or not…

I agree, “unusual behaviour” has been an excuse for racial profiling. To the police, it seems a black driver is suspicious if they (a) drive too fast, (b) drive too slow, (c) drive exactly at the speed limit, or (d) drive erratically or (e) drive too carefully or (f) drive too expensive a car or (g) drive too decrepit a car or (h) drive a too nondescript car or (i) drive a rental car. All are overwhelming suspicious to the right mindset. I have driven all over the USA, several times a year, for 40 years, at earlier times with long hair and a beard on a motorcycle, and only been stopped once - by a policeman with radar when I was speeding. Meanwhile, I see the older black Republican senator in a suit saying he’d been stopped 8 times while driving near Washington in the last year alone.

OTOH, other behaviours do suggest something unusual, such as offering a very young stranger a ride while driving with fake(?) plates.

If he had a good explanation for the plates - have at it. Best would be to shut up and get a ticket and nothing more. IMHO, IANAL, etc. I doubt that that in itself is enough for a luring charge. But what it does do is now make him “known to police”. yes, having done something once does not automatically make one guilty if the same thing happens - and “round up the usual suspects” without probable cause is not correct either. But as O Henry said “the race is not always to swiftest, not the contest to the strongest - but that’s the way to bet.”

I was maybe a 1/2 hour away from Jackson on the 30th at the Toms River Halloween parade. It was a beautiful night, and no one who lives here would have considered it cold by any standard. I had just a light sweatshirt on and was quite comfortable for several hours sitting outside. Although it did start to rain as we walked back from the parade, which I’d guess was maybe 8:30 or 9:00. Not sure if rained in Jackson though.

The article says the plates came back " registration not on file". I don’t know if that is compatible with expired plates nor not.