Our client was arrested in a sex sting operation conducted in Gwinnett County called “Operation Spring Cleaning.” The officers went online posing as underage girls attempting to lure older men. While the operation was touted as “the largest in Georgia history” we were quite skeptical as to how many actual “predators” were arrested.
The first red flag was that of the 23 individuals arrested, 10 of them were under the age of 25. Another four were under the age of 29. Our client was actually 35, but the circumstances of his arrest showed quite clearly that he had no intention of having sex with a minor.
Our client went on Backpage for the purpose of meeting a prostitute. He responded to an ad where the woman stated she was 24 years old. There was no indication from the ad that this person was anything other than an adult.
After she and our client discussed the price and made arrangements to meet, she made some confusing statements about her age. After confirming that he’d be bringing condoms, she stated “I don’t want to get pregnant at 14.” Our client was confused and asked her to walk outside the house so he would “know for sure” that she was an adult.
When the client drove by the house, out came a female GBI agent who clearly appeared to be over the age of 20. As a result, our client pulled in the driveway and was arrested. The police claimed that since he was told she was 14, he knowingly solicited a minor for sex.
We met with the prosecutors and presented a compelling defense. At first, they were unwilling to dismiss the case. We prepared for trial and conducted a focus group to see how our defense would be received by jurors. The results were positive, but the one problem was that since our client was truly soliciting a prostitute, he was at least guilty of the misdemeanor offense of pandering.
Ultimately, we were able to convince the district attorney’s office to dismiss the charges in the indictment and allow our client to enter a plea to a pandering charge. This allowed our client, a successful computer engineer, to walk away with just 12 months probation, no felony conviction and no sex offender registration.