Many years spent as both a St. Louis prosecutor and now as a Missouri criminal defense lawyer, I have seen over aggressive law enforcement tactics which sometimes amount to entrapment or prosecutions without sufficient evidence but the cases are pursued anyway due to the nature of the crime. This is especially true in sexual assault cases. See St. Louis Criminal Law Article: “St. Louis Felony Rape Charges Dismissed Day before Trial” A case our St. Louis defense law firm handled and had dismissed a few days before trial.
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Recently, this type of overly aggressive prosecution resulted in an acquittal of a widely watched sexual case. In 2006 twenty nine men were prosecuted as a result of the Dateline show “To Catch a Predator”. Only one, Joseph Roisman, took his case to trial, and he won. The show was based on volunteers from the online watchdog Perverted Justice who would contact individuals in chat rooms and steer the conversations towards sex. Eventually they would claim to be underage and set up a meeting. Roisman talked to a “tori_Rox_2006” who identified herself as a thirteen year old girl and he agreed to meet her. Roisman traveled 110 miles to meet the girl and when he arrived he took off his shirt as he entered the backyard of the residence. He was then confronted by the Petalum Police and arrested for attempting lewd acts with a child under the age of 13.
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The Judge in the case entered an acquittal of the Defendant in the case after the prosecuting attorney presented their case. The Judge found that the prosecutors had not proven that Roisman had specific intent to commit the crime in question. He went on further to suggest that dateline’s partner, Perverted Justice, lacked credibility and and engaged in entrapment. After the jurors were dismissed, they even commented that they believed Perverted Justice had an agenda and one juror said she would have found him not guilty even if the Judge did not stop the case.
This is a perfect example of entrapment. The media and law enforcement failed to show that Joseph Roisman ever intended to commit a crime. They had nothing more that some inappropriate internet conversations that did not show his intent to commit crime. The criminal defense attorney in this case aggressively defended his client and was able to show that no crime occurred. The media assumed that a Judge and jury would see the video and just assume that the person intended to commit a crime.
In Missouri, entrapment is defined in Missouri Code – § 562.066. — Entrapment.
- The commission of acts which would otherwise constitute an offense is not criminal if the actor engaged in the prescribed conduct because he was entrapped by a law enforcement officer or a person acting in cooperation with such an officer.
- An “entrapment” is perpetuated if a law enforcement officer or a person acting in cooperation with such an officer, for the purpose of obtaining evidence of the commission of an offense, solicits, encourages or otherwise induces another person to engage in conduct when he was not ready and willing to engage in such conduct.”
Have you been targeted by the police or feel you have been charged for a crime you did not commit. Contact Clayton criminal defense lawyer Gary Lauber for a free legal consultation.