Missouri Supreme Court Declines to Suppress Evidence in Solicitation of a Minor Case – State v. Faruqi

August 8, 2011 by David S. Seltzer

When people accused of online crimes come to cyber crime criminal defense attorneys like me, one of the most common crimes they face is solicitation of a minor. Here in Florida, solicitation of a minor is the crime of using a computer network to attempt a sexual act with someone under the age of 18. Other states might call it enticement or seduction, but in general, defendants can be charged with a crime even if no actual meeting takes place. In fact, court rulings and some legislative action have made it clear that the “minor” can actually be an adult law enforcement officer posing as a minor. That was the case in State of Missouri v. Kasim Faruqi, a Missouri Supreme Court ruling upholding the conviction of a St. Louis man accused of enticing a minor. The court ruled Faruqi was not entitled to suppress the evidence from either his statements to law enforcement or the search of his work computer.

Faruqi, of suburban St. Louis, struck up an online relationship with a police officer pretending to be a 14-year-old girl named Kaitlin. Over online chat and phone calls, he quickly made it clear that he’d like to have sex with Kaitlin, even though he knew it was illegal. He eventually agreed to meet her in a park, where he was arrested instead. Detectives told him they were investigating complaints from Kaitlin’s parents, and he admitted verbally and in writing that he had chatted with a 14-year-old girl about sex and arranged to meet. He also signed a form authorizing a search of his work computer, which turned up evidence of the chats. However, at trial, he told the jury he believed Kaitlin was really an adult playing out a fantasy; and that his written statement was coerced because the interviewing officer lied about Kaitlin’s parents and told him he could go home if he confessed. He also challenged the enticement law as unconstitutionally vague, a motion that failed. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.

On appeal, Faruqi argued that his statements to police were involuntary. The Missouri Supreme Court concluded that they were not. Faruqi argued that the lie about Kaitlin’s parents was a threat to sue and that inquiries about his native country were a threat of deportation. The high court found nothing in the record to show that detectives asked about Faruqi’s immigration status; questions were about customs in his native Pakistan surrounding sex with children. Nor was a lawsuit ever mentioned. Finally, the court dismissed Faruqi’s argument that the computer search was unlawful because he signed a waiver permitting it, and had a diminished expectation of privacy on his work computer in any case. Thus, the high court upheld the trial court on every count.

As an online solicitation of a minor lawyer, I’m sorry to say that this is a familiar story. The evidence-suppression arguments are a common theme when someone is accused of a crime, but Faruqi’s arguments were just not strong enough. As a general rule, police officers can lie as much as they want as long as the lie does not “offend societal notions of fairness.” It’s basically up to a judge to decide whether a lie is fair, and judges are unlikely to decide in favor of competent adults who were properly Mirandized. This is why I always, always advise potential defendants never to say a word without a solicitation of a child online attorney by their side.

Seltzer Law, P.A. focuses its practice on defending people accused of serious online crimes. And because we understand that criminal trouble happens at all times, not just between 9 and 5, we are available to take phone calls at literally all times — 24 hours a day and seven days a week. To tell us about your situation or learn more, call us today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) or send us a message online.

Similar blog posts:

Florida Supreme Court Allows Search Evidence Despite Error on Warrant – Moreno-Gonzalez v. State

Eighth Circuit Rules Search That Led to Child Porn Conviction Was Valid – U.S. v. Schwarte

Florida High Court Reinstates Conviction Based on Disputed Evidence – State v. Hankerson