I guess the message here is that if no actual children were in danger of being harmed, the perverts get a break:
Two recent Indiana Court of Appeals rulings may limit the use of undercover investigators posing as children to catch Internet pedophiles, prosecutors say.
The court has ruled that two types of felony charges police had been using against sexual predators accused of luring underage victims via Internet "chat rooms" can't be leveled when the person at the other end of a "chat" is an undercover police officer, and not an actual child, The Indianapolis Star reported Sunday.
The dismissal of a charge of attempted sexual misconduct with a minor -- a Class B felony -- against a Shelbyville, Ind., man last week could mean new Internet child sex cases will lead to lighter sentences, prosecutors said.
[. . .]
Instead, Massillamany said, prosecutors are now relying on child solicitation charges, a Class C felony charge that applies as long as the defendant merely believes the intended victim is at least 14 and younger than 16.
This is one of those "I don't understand so could a lawyer please explain it to me" cases. I guess I don't see the distinction between "attempted sexual conduct with a minor" and "child solicitation." Both describe fantasy transactions in which nothing was going to actually take place with a child.
In any sting operation, the important consideration is whether or to what degree entrapment was involved. Was the stingee tricked into committing a crime he wouldn't have ordinarily committed, or did police nab someone who would have committed the same type of crime somewhere down the line? But using the pretend nature of the sting to mitigate the charges seems like a stretch. But those who set up, say, phony pawnshops don't intend for burglars to actually get away with their ill-gotten gains. Undercover police posing as prostitutes don't intend for any actual sex-for-sale to take place.