Similar cases in Wisconsin and around the country have resulted in different outcomes. Some charged have ended up with lengthy prison sentences, others with lengthy court cases ending with relatively short sentences. Here's a review of cases I found online:
A Wisconsin Rapids man got a conviction overturned by an appeals court after he engaged in a sexually explicit chat, including video, with a state agent posing as a 13-year-old girl
Two appeals court rulings in Indiana suggest police need a "real victim" to convict suspects of serious crimes.
The use of undercover investigators as bait in Internet chats has become routine in Central Indiana. But the attraction for law enforcement -- the lack of an actual victim -- also became the basis for the reversal of two convictions against a Shelbyville man Wednesday by the Indiana Court of Appeals. That leaves in place a third related conviction.That doesn't jibe with a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in 2002 (see Robbins vs State) that found the suspect's intent was all that was needed for a conviction in an Internet sex sting case. (And here's a story I wrote for the JT in 2002 on the issue.)
* Criminal defense attorneys seem to think they have a case in Internet sex stings.
Here's a lawyer in Madison who thinks police overstep their bounds in Internet sex sting cases:
According to media reports, the undercover agent is a seasoned male police officer. The tone of the conversation is nothing short of "enticing erotica."Here's a Milwaukee attorney making a similar argument:
Police increasingly use Internet chat room sting operations to ensnare unsuspecting individuals. Some are unfairly targeted persons who would not otherwise have become involved in child pornography or attempted child sexual contact. Such persons may have a defense if they satisfy the legal requirements of “entrapment”. Others may be guilty of some wrongdoing, but perhaps not the specific and more serious charge they face.* But others caught in Internet sex stings have been convicted and sentenced to prison. This is worth more research, but the sentences seem to vary. Here's a case involving a Chicago priest from 2000 that resulted in a Racine County judge sentencing him to one year in prison for second degree sexual assault of a child.
It's safe to say odds are against Becker. But a Racine County court observer noted Becker's lawyer, Patrick Cafferty is very good. "If I was in trouble, he'd be the person I call," they said.