Attempted Enticement is Not Enticement

posted by on Friday, June 06, 2008

"We doubt any of the Cedar Falls police officers were 'enticed away' from their offices to the Wal-Mart store because of Hansen's blandishments." Justice Streit, Iowa Supreme Court, State of Iowa vs. Eric Hansen http://www.judicial.state.ia.us/Supreme_Court/Recent_Opinions/20080606/06-1735.pdf

In the recently issued opinion, the Iowa Supreme Court used common sense today in holding that the criminal offense of enticing away a minor actually requires that a minor be enticed away. Mr. Hansen through e-mails and telephone calls arranged what he believed to be a sexual rendezvous with what he believed to be a 15 year old girl. It turned out that the 15 year old girl was a Cedar Falls police officer and Mr. Hansen was promptly arrested upon his arrival at the predetermined meeting spot at Wal-Mart. The trial court found Mr. Hansen guilty of actually enticing away a minor but the Supreme Court held that because no minor was actually enticed away. Thus, Mr. Hansen was only guilty of attempted enticement.

It seems logical and basic common sense but the Iowa Attorney General's Office attempted to argue that even if someone was not enticed away the crime of enticing away a minor could be committed. According to the Iowa Supreme Court, if we were to accept the State's argument there would be no conceivable offense of attempted enticement. However, the State claimed that even under their proposed definition of enticement, the crime of attempted enticement could be committed in situations where for example a defendant tried to make contact with a minor with the intent to commit the illegal act but was unsuccessful in reaching the minor. The Supreme Court all but scoffed at this argument when it stated: Presumably, the State is referring to circumstances where a defendant called a minor and got a busy signal or a defendant's email to a minor was blocked by filters. We do not believe this is the type of conduct the State meant to outlaw when it created the attempted enticement statute. The Court concluded that a defendant is guilty of enticement if the child goes with or goes to meet the defendant and guilty of attempted enticement if the child declines the offer or does not meet the defendant

The lessons learned from this case are simple: 1) don't attempt to entice away minors; and 2) if you are foolish enough to actually be attempting to entice a police officer posing as a minor, you are only guilty of attempted enticing a minor which is an aggravated misdemeanor as opposed to enticing away a minor which is a Class C or D felony depending upon the intended act. Either one lands you on the sex offender registry if the solicited act is sexual in nature, and good luck residing anywhere in Iowa with a sex offense involving a minor.