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Local police charge man with felonies regarding computer ad

The internet continues to be a rich source of criminal arrests by New Hampshire authorities in connection with alleged sexual offenses. The arrests, however, often bring up potential defenses unique to the special characteristics of the media involved. One man, for example, was recently arrested by New Hampshire authorities and charged with felonies involving the use of his computer for illegal purposes.

He reportedly put an ad on Craigslist in which he solicited "an experience" that infers but does not specifically describe an illegal sexual encounter. The Weare Police Department made the arrest with the cooperation of the Department of Homeland Security. An undercover agent from the latter agency responded to the 38-year-old man's ad.

However, instead of making an arrest, the federal agency turned the information over to the police in Weare for executing the arrest under state law. Apparently, the defendant had deleted the email account that he used to communicate with the undercover agent. It appears that the federal authorities may not have had sufficient evidence to proceed.

The federal agents may have turned the matter over to the local authorities due to available state laws that were considered to be sufficient to support a prosecution. In any event, the local police have stated that the investigation is complete and that no further charges will be filed. All that is really known is that the defendant is accused of the felonies of illegal uses of computer services and falsifying physical evidence, which the police say are related to communicating with a minor online.  

The defense may argue that New Hampshire law requires a more direct factual compliance with the felonies charged than appears to exist in this cloudy prosecution. The defendant's ad was suggestive only and did not precisely identify what he had in mind. Initially, therefore, the police may have had no right to intervene considering that there were no actual criminal activities stated in the ad. After that, the prosecution ended up with the local police who did not participate in the original investigation and who may also face a basic inability to prove that criminal activity actually occurred.

Source: unionleader.com, "Weare man arrested after fed responds to ad seeking a mother-daughter 'experience'", Melissa Proulx, Oct. 18, 2016

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