Skip to comments.Foley could face state charges if federal case is weak
Posted on 10/06/2006 8:59:05 PM PDT by conservative in nyc
Even if former Rep. Mark Foley did not violate federal laws in sexually explicit Internet communications with underage boys, he still could find himself charged under state statutes.
Federal law generally requires a person to meet a minor for sex or at the very least, to attempt to meet, for a crime to have been committed. However, under laws in some states where the Florida Republican communicated with children, an attempt to seduce the victim might be enough for a criminal case.
Federal prosecutors investigating Foley's lurid communications are examining whether Florida authorities might be better positioned to bring criminal charges against Foley, since the state threshold for determining if a crime has been committed is less stringent than federal law, according to a senior Justice Department official who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.
Foley resigned abruptly last week amid reports he exchanged sexually suggestive communications with teenage boys who worked as pages on Capitol Hill. While his attorney, David Roth, says his client never engaged in sexual activity with a minor, that may not matter in certain states.
E-mails and instant messages released so far indicate Foley communicated with the boys in California and Louisiana, and may have initiated those contacts from Washington, D.C. and Florida. The boys in question were all at least 16 years old at the time of the communications.
Under state law in Florida, where the age of consent is 18, a crime may have been committed if Foley is simply found to have seduced or attempted to seduce a minor. However, a reading of the law is subjective, said JoAnn Carrin, spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's office.
In reference to the term "seduce," Carrin said, "That's open to interpretation."
She declined to elaborate on how Foley's communications may have violated state law.
Jeff Harris, president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said it may come down to interpretation of exactly what Foley's intent was.
"He may have just gone to the precipice of a cliff but not jumped, which means he didn't commit a crime," Harris said. "If he's encouraging a minor to commit a sex act, I think you've crossed a legal line. Any time your talking sexually with a minor on a computer, you're flirting with an arrest."
In Louisiana, a felony crime is committed if an adult engages in sexually explicit Internet communications with anyone under 17, said Mike Johnson, a special agent with the Louisiana Attorney General's Office.
"It just has to be sexual in nature," Johnson said.
Washington, D.C. law is a bit trickier.
It is not illegal for an adult to have sexual relations with a person at least 16 years old, so long as that person is not in a position of authority over the minor. However, it is still illegal to communicate any sexually related materials to a minor, such as magazines or any printed material, which could include Internet messages, said Jack King, spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
"D.C. doesn't have any Internet related statutes regarding Internet related sexual conduct," King said.
In California, it is illegal to send sexually suggestive communications to a minor under 18, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
However, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos said cases are rarely prosecuted if the adult at least doesn't attempt to meet the child.
"Words alone generally are not going to be enough to prove a crime," Geragos said. "You'd have to have some act in furtherance of the lewd talk."
Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson added: "That's often why they don't go on these cases because it's hard to prove intent given that the Internet is a world of fantasy."
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Ask the question: If YOU got an IM asking intimate questions, would you respond? Of course not.
exactly, and these are supposed to be "smart" kids? hmmm
Whew! Thanks for the ping to #22 bitt.
Yes, very interesting info. Thanks for pinging also.
If you have something that can turn this election, you need to get it out to the public now. It takes a good 3-4 weeks for the electorate to absorb news that would change votes (not to mention that most of us have gotten our absentee ballots already).
So if you have a blog, get it out there now. If you don't have a blog, get it into someone's blog now.
Please stay safe and keep us updated!
I'd suggest getting it to Michelle Malkin... michellemalkin.com
drudge has his radioshow coming on this weekend i believe, and he just loves to break news... :D LOL
bookmarked - great info
LOL, poor Linus!
It looks very good made larger, I'm surprised!
That gives me 'nuther idea
well they're okay because they are Democrats - it's expected of them to 'misbehave'.
sounds like penelopesire thinks he/she has some new info..??
Have you received any???
Shouldn't that have been poor Paula Jones???
Gee, guess I missed seeing Paula in that post!