State v. Hatchett
State v. Hatchett, 2020 UT App 61 (Orme, J.)
In an online ad, the defendant solicited a sexual encounter between “dad” and “son.” “Son” is a term in the gay community expressing the desire to meet someone younger, but not necessarily a minor. A detective posing as a 13-year-old boy responded to this ad and agreed to meet the defendant and disclosed his age. The two continued to talk, and the detective never proposed sex acts, but the defendant repeatedly steered their conversations in a sexual direction. The police arrested the defendant at a gas station where he had agreed to meet. The State charged the defendant with enticement of a minor. Before trial, the defendant moved the district court to dismiss those charges because he had been entrapped. The district court denied the motion. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:
- Under the facts here, a motion to dismiss based on entrapment fails because the defendant could not show that the methods the detective used created a substantial risk that the offense would be committed by someone not otherwise ready to commit it. The detective responding to the defendant’s advertisement did not use an improper method, especially when the detective did not persistently request that the defendant engage in illegal conduct. Here, the defendant initiated over sixteen text-message conversations and three phone calls, while the detective initiated only two. The defendant also raised the subject of sex first and engaged in sexually explicit conversation with someone who said he was a minor. Here, the detective’s methods only afforded the defendant the mere opportunity to commit the offense.
- The detective’s use of an undercover online persona of a 13-year-old boy is not, on its own, entrapment.