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Officer preparing for an online sting operation

Common Flaws in Online Sting Operations

Published: Oct 15, 2019 in Criminal Defense

Online sting operations in Houston and Harris County are a common law enforcement tactic to make arrests in sex crime cases, but they are not open and shut situations.

If you are being investigated or have been arrested for a crime because you were caught up in online activity, don’t give up hope. The police or prosecutor may claim you were caught “red-handed,” but the facts and law may tell a very different story.

Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 and set up a free and confidential consultation with an experienced sex crime defense lawyer.

Online Sting Operations in Houston

An online sting happens when law enforcement sets up a false social media account, website, or online business with the intent to lure individuals, possibly looking to engage in illegal activity. You may have become tripped up because you visited a questionable website, or you used search terms related to illegal activity.

Undercover officers and agents often pose as criminals or people seeking something illegal like drugs, prostitution, or online solicitation of a minor. Online sting operations are only limited by the imagination of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

They could cover just about any illicit activity, including:

  • Drug trafficking
  • Prostitution
  • Sex with a minor
  • Illegal gun sales

Possible Defenses in Online Sting Operations

Common flaws in a sting operation can provide successful defenses to charges arising from them, depending on the facts of the situation.

The prosecution has the burden of proving you had criminal intent. Did you state or show you wanted to commit a crime, or did you take action by committing one? Were you simply communicating, asking questions?

Were you entrapped by law enforcement? Under Texas law, it’s a defense to a prosecution:

  • When the accused engaged in the conduct charged because he was induced to do so by a law enforcement agent
  • Using persuasion or other means likely to cause persons to commit the offense
  • Conduct providing a person an opportunity to commit a crime is not entrapment

This section of the penal code has been interpreted many times. In one appellate decision this year, the Court of Appeals of Texas, Eleventh District, Eastland, stated that entrapment includes both subjective and objective parts:

  • Subjective: The defendant must show both that he was actually induced to commit the charged offense and that the persuasion would cause an ordinarily law-abiding person of average resistance to commit the crime
  • Objective: Law enforcement’s tactics became active and overt persuasion, more than just temptation

However, entrapment is a defense you would rather not use because it’s only available after you admit you committed a crime. If you deny it happened, it’s inconsistent with entrapment, because this defense assumes that the offense took place, but it may provide you an acceptable excuse, according to the Court of Appeals of Texas, First District, Houston, in a decision last year.

How Ned Barnett can help

If you’ve been arrested — or are under investigation — because of an online sting operation, you need an experienced attorney who believes in your case. Attorney Barnett will fight to make sure your side of the story is heard, and your rights are protected. He is a highly skilled and aggressive attorney with considerable experience defending these kinds of cases.

If you or a loved were involved in an online sting operation, The Law Offices of Ned Barnett can help you by reviewing the facts and building the strongest defense possible. To learn more about your options when facing criminal charges, contact us by calling (713) 222-6767 and schedule your free consultation.