Local news outlets are reporting that a fifty-six year old Connecticut man has been arrested and charged with child enticement in Massachusetts federal court. The complaint alleges that Paul Hinkel tried to entice a minor into having sex with him. Hinkel responded to a Craigslist post generated by undercover federal agents. The listing directed interested parties to an email address. Email exchanges between Hinkel and someone posing as the minor’s mother disclosed negotiations and plans for completing the act. When the Hinkel arrived at the meeting location he was met by federal agents and arrested.
How is the Crime of Child Enticement Defined in the Federal Courts?
United States Code Chapter 18 Section 2422(b) makes it a crime for anyone to use the Internet to try to entice someone into having illegal sex. The act does not have to be consummated for you to be prosecuted. Moreover, as demonstrated by this case there does not have to be an actual victim. Rather, your intent and efforts to achieve the unlawful goal will subject you to prosecution. The federal version of this crime differs significantly from the Massachusetts state version.
How Severe are the Penalties for Someone Convicted of Child Enticement?
The statute for this crime requires a minimum mandatory sentence of ten years. You can be sentenced for life if convicted of this offense. There is more to sentencing in the federal courts however. The United States Sentencing Guidelines have a major impact on these cases. Lets take this case for example and do a rough guideline calculation. U.S.S.G. Section 2G1.3 states that the base offense level for this crime is level 28. Then there is a 2 level enhancement for use of the Internet in committing the crime. If the victim is not yet twelve years old then 8 levels are added. There is no mention of age in the articles I read about this case. There is a possible reduction of 3 levels for acceptance of responsibility. So, under this scenario the defendant is looking at the low end of a level 27. At the high end he is at level 35. If he is a criminal history category 1 then under level 27 he is looking at 70-87 months under the guidelines. However, since the statutory minimum is ten years he might have to serve the ten year sentence. On the other hand, if the guidelines are calculated at level 35 he is looking at 168-210 months.
Are There Defense to Federal Child Enticement Charges?
As with any crime there are always defenses that can be pursued. The defendant’s intent is something to consider. Here however it is alleged that Hinkel appeared at the meeting location with sexual apparatus’s and a stuffed animal. I imagine there is a preserved email chain as well. Most likely, Hinkel’s defense efforts will be spent on getting him the best sentence possible. Litigating the sentencing guidelines is the one of the functions of federal criminal defense lawyers in Massachusetts. Fighting the length of the sentence is often the best defense in cases like this one.
Massachusetts Federal Criminal Lawyer
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, PC has been defending people in the federal courts in Massachusetts and other parts of the country for almost thirty years. If you or someone in your family has been charged with a federal sex crime you need to hire a lawyer who you can trust to get you the best result possible. We can help you. Call our office at 617-263-6800 and get your defense started.