A multi-agency effort, led by the Washington State Patrol, ended with the arrest of four individuals who thought they were to meet a minor for illicit purposes.

Detectives posed as the juveniles,” officials said in a statement announcing the arrests. So, “no juveniles were used or at risk during the operation.”

“While DuPont is a safe community, we are not naive to the fact that being situated along the I-5 corridor brings with it transient crime, to include human trafficking and child predators,” added DuPont Police Chief Douglas Newman. “The safety of our children and citizens is our number one priority, and we want to send a message to anyone who is thinking of victimizing the innocent: Don’t come to DuPont to hurt our kids or our community.”

“Cases like these usually have a substantial ‘shock and awe’ factor with jurors,” observed Seattle criminal defense attorney Lennard A. Nahajski. “So, a defense should focus on the legal issues involved.”

The actus rea, or criminal act, is one such issue, he added. Legally, defendants who have not committed illegal sex may still face punishment. Generally, the prosecutor simply needs to show an affirmative act which, if continued, would lead to an illegal sex act.

Assume Tim goes online where he meets an undercover officer posing as a teenage girl. Tim agrees to meet “the girl” at a local hotel. Tim leaves his home, gets in his car, drives to the hotel, goes up the elevator, and knocks on the door. Then, before investigators open the door, he changes his mind and leaves.

Technically, when Tim walked out of his front door, he could have been charged with a crime. However, the charges would probably not hold up in court. The closer he got to the hotel room door, the more likely a conviction becomes.

The entrapment defense might apply in these situations as well. But it is not easy to establish. Contrary to popular myth, police officers can freely impersonate underage girls online. They can even provide photos.

For the entrapment defense to hold up in court, the defendant must prove s/he had no predisposition to commit the crime. If officers approached Tim when he was in a sex chat room, he obviously had some predisposition to commit the crime. If officers sent Tim a Facebook message, entrapment might be a possibility.

It is also very important to humanize the client in these situations. So, trials are usually a good option, especially because prosecutors rarely offer good deals in these cases. If the evidence is overwhelming, a slow plea might be an option. In some jurisdictions, defendants can plead guilty and go to the jury for punishment.