It has become increasingly common for police officers to monitor Internet sites for evidence of prostitution, then to arrest respondents. The use of online prostitution has exploded in recent years, and police officers have found the practice to be an easy target for sting operations.
This was the case in a recent sting in southern Maryland, in which 22 people were arrested and charged with sex offenses. Officers in St. Mary’s noticed an upswing in online prostitution in their region, and moved ahead with what they called “Operation Risky Business.”
Over the course of several days, undercover officers posed as prostitutes and accepted payment for various sex acts. Usually, the payment was in cash, though sometimes drugs were offered instead. Police said their operation snagged a wide variety of people, including a school bus driver and a college professor. Both professionals have been suspended from their jobs, and the professor has been banned from campus. A former Calvert County teacher was also implicated in the crimes.
While large scale sting operations such as this one are undoubtedly effective at accumulating a large number of arrests, they are often a source of concern for those working for the defense of the accused. Accusations of entrapment are common in situations such as this one, as defendants often feel they have been drawn into a crime that would not have been committed without police involvement. In such situations, defense attorneys must carefully examine the chain of events to ensure that their client’s rights were not infringed upon during the course of the investigation.