Q: I’m 28 years old and from Pittsburgh. I was on an online dating website and I talked to a girl. After a while of talking she told me she was 15. I am from another state where sex is legal at 14 and I have been sexually active since I was 14. I told her I didn’t mind that she was 15 because I didn’t know it was illegal in PA. Then me and her started to exchange nude pictures. We made plans to meet at the movies. Then I get a message on my phone from her saying that the police had all the transcripts and were going to arrest me soon and that when I was walking around looking for her at the movies it was just to get me on camera to prove I was there. Then she tells me she is from the activist group POP SQUAD on you tube that catch criminals for sex crimes and post the conversations. I looked them up and there are 1000s of videos and the police actively work with them. My question is what kind of charges I am looking at and what are the punishments for those charges? (Cranberry Twp., PA)
A: It doesn’t matter what the law is in the state in which you previously resided. You are bound by the laws of the jurisdiction in which you allegedly commit a crime. I also find it strange that any state allows adults to have sex with minors age 14, but I only know the laws of PA. Recordings of the telephone conversation, if they exist, would not be admissible under PA wiretap laws unless you consented to the recording. If there are emails with photos and she appears to be under age 16, you may be charged with an internet sex crime. If you went to meet her, they may have you on an attempt of a felony solicitation of a minor. However, walking around a movie theater may not be enough. My suggestion is to not discuss this on the internet anymore nor discuss it with anyone other than an attorney that you hire. I have not had a case like this in several years. The last one I had, my client drove to a Walmart to meet a girl and he was nabbed inside the entrance doors of Walmart by the County Police. Everything about this sounds strange, especially if you haven’t been contacted by the police. It also sounds strange that she is telling you the police will arresting you soon. If the police were involved, they would not tell her to say that. This group may not be who they appear to be on the internet. I would not talk to them at all and certainly do not pay money to anyone. I would keep my fingers crossed, lay low for a while and if you hear from the police, do not make any statements to them-nothing- and hire a lawyer and follow his advice explicitly.