Online sex stings in Arkansas and other jurisdictions often raise the potential defense of impossibility and related arguments. When the so-called victim is actually an adult police officer posing as a minor, it may be argued that there is no actual victim and therefore no crime. With online stings, the charge is usually in the nature of an attempted sexual assault of a non-existent minor whom the defendant never actually encounters in person.
A public defender for Sebastian County may be asserting these and other defenses on his own behalf when he defends against charges that he conspired to commit rape. The 47-year-old public defender allegedly agreed online to meet the father of a 13-year-old boy to arrange for sex with the boy. The conversations online with a member of the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office posing as the father allegedly led to an attempted meeting by the defendant with the officer.
Police arrested him for conspiracy to commit rape. In all such online stings, defense counsel must examine the facts with a proverbial fine tooth comb to determine the existence of potential defenses. In this case, it is arguable that the defendant could not conspire with a nonexistent father of a nonexistent minor child.
Both the father and the child did not actually exist but were in reality only imaginary figures planted in the defendant's mind. Furthermore, it is difficult to see how the defendant can be convicted of conspiring with a fictitious father to rape a fictitious minor. In addition, he is not accused of attempting to meet with the so-called minor to commit a sexual assault or rape.
Instead, authorities charged him with attempting to meet the father to conspire to commit sexual assault. They may not have had a completed agreement, which is the essence of a conspiracy. In addition, the authorities may have enticed and entrapped the man with their deceptions to engage in something that he was not normally inclined to do. The potential for that defense in Arkansas would depend largely on the transcripts of the conversations that occurred.
Source: 5newsonline.com, "Online Sex Sting Leads To Arrest Of Sebastian County Public Defender", Brittany Boyett, Mar. 21, 2016