California Appellate Court Overturns Craigslist Sex Sting Conviction
In what seems to be a huge victory for people surfing the internet, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana, California just overturned a conviction for a man who was caught in an internet sting by Huntington Beach Police. Gregory Aguirre, 53 of El Monte was arrested after he arrived at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant to meet a fictitious 13-year-old girl for sex in 2010.
Aguirre was charged with three felony counts, PC 288.4(b), Meeting a Minor to Commit Lewd Conduct, PC 664(a)-28(a)- Attempt Lewd Act on a Minor, and PC288.3(a) Luring of a Child with Intent to Commit Specified Crime.
The ad placed by Huntington Beach Police Department investigators read, “Hi wanta play with me2nite—w4m (hb).” Aguirre along with 100 other people responded to the ad. The officers replied to the responders by adding “Hi Im Jess, Im 13 yrs old and looking to make some $ in exchange for stuff.” Aguirre and “Jess” continued corresponding, including sexually explicit exchanges.
Law enforcement then set up a meeting at a Carl’s Jr in Huntington Beach. When Aguirre arrived, he was immediately arrested. When he was interviewed, Aguirre said he went to the Carl’s Jr to meet “Jess” and engage in sexual intercourse. Aguirre had condoms with him. In addition, Aguirre told officers he really didn’t believe “Jess” was a minor.
Aguirre went to trial and was convicted. He neither requested nor was he given an entrapment instruction for the jury. The court of appeal stated in their opinion “The police lured defendant into an electronic conversation with Jess without providing any indication at the outset that she was underage….The police quickly disclosed Jess was 13 years old once defendant contacted her, but in response to defendant’s request for a picture of Jess, the police selected a photograph of an attractive and mature female body.”
The court further stated, “Our overview of the record suggests a reasonable jury could find that the police conduct would illegitimately ensnare normally law-abiding individuals in an illegal conversation they would not have otherwise pursued. In sum, the jury might have believed the conduct of the police was likely to induce a normally law-abiding person to commit some or all of the charged crimes. We therefore reverse the judgment.”
It must be noted that Aguirre’s computer was seized and there was no evidence of any child pornography on his computer, furthering the justices opinion that Aguirre was just that a law abiding person who got trapped by police conduct.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for any internet sex crime, it is important to contact our office for a free consultation with an experienced Orange County sex crime attorney