Wednesday, April 07, 2010

U.S. v. Tello (9th Cir. - April 7, 2010)

I'm thinking of starting a new blog. One that's devoted exclusively to talking about opinions in which a guy on the internet "seduces" an FBI agent who's posing as a teenage girl. Content's no problem: there's tons of those cases.

I wrote about one from the California Court of Appeal on Monday. Today brings yet another opinion.

I'm joking about the blog, of course. Though I've probably already written about a dozen or so of these over the years. But the lesson remains: Don't try to seduce a "teenager" over the internet. It's not who you think. Really.

There's also a more subtle point, I think, and one which I hadn't thought about until today. My admittedly unscientific impression is that these internet sting cases result in published opinions at a much, much higher rate than ordinary criminal appeals. Or at least, given their numbers, I think that's gotta be the case, unless everyone and his mother's being convicted of this stuff.

I wonder why that's the case (if indeed it is)? I assume that part of the reason is that these cases have an unusually high rate of going to trial -- rather than plea out -- due to the relatively high sentences and the fact that the defendants are often not your "usual" criminals who understand that a stint in the joint is the price you must occasionally pay for your profession. But that can't be all of it. Maybe these cases are more interesting to clerks and/or judges. Maybe the relative wealth of the offenders enables and encourages them to hire higher-priced defense and appellate attorneys who come up with creative, novel or difficult appellate issues, thereby resulting in more published opinions. Or maybe the historically novel setting of the internet itself results in difficult jurisdictional and other issues that require an era of publication before the resolution of internet sex stings on appeal become as routinized as, say, bank robbery is now.

Something interesting to think about.

Anyway, for now, here's yet another case where an older guy (this one from Arizona) talks to a "thirteen year old" from the FBI and travels over state lines (to L.A.) to allegedly have sex with "her" but in fact to be busted.

Word to the wise. Screen names like (here) "Cutelagrl93" (i.e., Cute LA Girl Born in 1993) are more accurately "FBIDude67". Ignore at your peril.