Case Results

Dismissal of internet sting case in Whitfield County

State of Georgia v. J.L.

Our client was 26 years old, and a recent graduate of Pepperdine University, when he was arrested in an internet sting operation in Whitfield County.

Our client responded to an ad on looking for a prostitute. The ad was created by the Georgia ICAC Task Force and it had a picture of a 24-year-old GBI agent.

Our client spoke to the agent on the phone and, during the conversation, she stated that she was 14 years old. The client seemed surprised and he asked her whether she was the same person who was in the picture in the ad. She said “yes.” The client then agreed to meet the agent at a McDonald’s in Dalton, Georgia.

Upon arriving in Dalton, the client was immediately arrested. During his interview with the police, he was adamant that he did not believe she was 14 years old. He cited the picture, her voice on the phone, and her overall maturity.

He was indicted in Whitfield County Superior Court for the offense of attempted child molestation. We were eventually hired after the case had been pending for almost two years. At the time, the prosecutor had informed the previous lawyer that his only option other than trial was to plead guilty and get sentenced to three years in prison.

When we took over the case, we immediately sent the client for a polygraph and psychosexual evaluation to prove that he did not have a sexual interest in children. Then we analyzed the recorded phone calls and the interview with the client. It became clear to us that it was quite reasonable for him to believe she was much older than 14.

We then realized that our client’s phone had been seized from him but never searched by the police. We filed a motion to have the phone produced so that the data could be forensically extracted. Once this was accomplished, we were able to show that there was nothing on the phone that suggested our client had a predisposition to having sex with children — there was no child pornography or any evidence of communications with minors.

We then met with the District Attorney’s office and presented our defense to the lead prosecutor in the case. We also showed her how we had recently obtained an acquittal in a very similar case involving the same female GBI agent. After several months, the District Attorney’s office agreed to dismiss the case.

Our client can now move on with his life and the arrest will be expunged from his record.

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