Luring a child into a structure or a motor vehicle is a serious crime in Pennsylvania and is considered to be a kidnapping offense. If you are convicted of this offense, it can have life-altering negative impacts that continue long after you have completed your sentence and your case has been closed. This type of offense is treated harshly by courts and prosecutors because it deals with children. This might mean that the prosecutor may be overzealous in his or her prosecution of you.
When you are charged with luring a child into a structure or motor vehicle, you should retain a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in handling both misdemeanors and serious felony cases. Michael DiCindio at DiCindio Law in West Chester is a highly-skilled former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney who has years of experience defending people who have been accused of all types of crimes, including luring. He can review your case and the evidence that is being used against you to identify the potential defenses that might be raised to your charges. Here is some information about luring a child into a structure or motor vehicle in Pennsylvania.
What is the crime of luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure?
Luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure is codified at 18 Pa.C.S. § 2910. Under this statute, luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure occurs when someone attempts to lure or lures a child into a structure or motor vehicle without having the implied or expressed consent of the parent of the child. When the child is younger than age 13, this offense is charged as a second-degree felony. If the child was 13 or older, this offense is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. In the plain language of the statute, it is not a defense to the felony charge that you had a mistaken belief that the child was 13 or older.
Depending on the reason that you allegedly lured or attempted to lure the child into your car or structure, you may also be charged with other crimes. For example, if you lured a child younger than age 13 and subsequently engaged in involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with him or her, you can be charged with both a first-degree felony for the sex offense and a second-degree felony for the luring offense, which could expose you to a very lengthy prison sentence.
To understand this statute, you need to understand the relevant definitions that apply to it under the law. A motor vehicle includes any device that is self-propelled and that allows you to transport yourself, including trucks, cars, SUVs, motorcycles, vans, buses, recreational vehicles, and others.
A structure includes any enclosed structure that is not open to the public and that is large enough to hold the child such as an apartment, house, barn, building, vessel, cargo container, and others. A child includes anyone younger than age 18.
What is luring?
In Pennsylvania, it is important to understand how luring is interpreted. Luring does not mean that you simply offered to give a child a lift to his or her house. Instead, it typically means that you used some type of inducement or enticement to try to get the child to get into your vehicle or to come inside of your structure.
An enticement could include many things, including the following examples:
- Telling the child to get into your car to see your puppy
- Telling the child that you will give him or her candy if he or she will get in your car
- Telling the child that you will take him or her to an arcade if he or she gets into your vehicle
- Telling the child that if he or she comes into your home, you will let him or her swim in your pool or play video games
An inducement is more similar to a command or threat and includes the following types of conduct:
- Telling the child that you will harm him or her or his or her family if he or she does not get in your car or enter your structure
- Telling the child that a parent is hurt to try to get him or her to get in your vehicle
What are the penalties for luring a child into a structure or motor vehicle
If you are convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor offense of luring a child who is 13 or older into your car or structure, you will face the following maximum penalties:
- Prison for up to five years
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Sex offender registration for 15 years
If you are convicted of luring a child who was younger than age 13, you will have a second-degree felony on your record. The maximum penalties will include the following:
- Prison for up to 10 years
- Fines of up to $25,000
- Sex offender registration for 15 years
A felony conviction for luring will also cause you to lose some of your civil rights such as the right to possess and own a firearm, the right to perform jury duty, and the right to vote. The severity of the consequences for a luring conviction means that you should not take your charges lightly.
Collateral consequences of a luring conviction
Collateral consequences are other consequences that you might suffer outside of the court and penal system. A conviction for luring a child can lead to several collateral consequences that can have severe negative consequences beyond a prison sentence and fine.
People who are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony luring of a child will likely lose their jobs. They may also have problems securing employment in the future. If they have a professional license, a luring conviction can cause the loss of the license. Having a luring conviction can also cause you to lose your family and friends, and it can cause lasting harm to your reputation in the community. You can also have trouble finding a place to live or being approved for certain types of loans.
Potential defenses to luring
When you meet with Michael DiCindio at DiCindio Law, he will review the police reports, witness interviews, forensic interviews, and other evidence to identify potential problems with the state’s case against you and the potential defenses that might be raised in your case. One important fact to recognize is the prosecutor has the burden to prove that you committed the luring offense beyond a reasonable doubt. You do not have the burden of proving that you are innocent.
While it is true that the burden of proof is on the prosecutor, raising a strong defense is still important. Your attorney might identify constitutional problems with how the investigation was conducted and file evidentiary motions to try to suppress some of the evidence. For example, if it appears that a flawed identification procedure was used, your lawyer might file a motion to challenge the eyewitness identification of you as the person who lured the child.
Your lawyer may also review any videos that might exist of the child’s forensic interview by a trained clinical interviewer or a detective. Forensic interviews with children must be conducted in specific ways. Your lawyer might look to see if the child was led by the officer or interviewer into accusing you. If you were interrogated, the lawyer may review the custodial interrogation to see if your Miranda rights were violated or if any inculpatory statements that you made were coerced.
In addition to constitutional problems, your defense attorney will also review your case to see if one of the following types of defenses might be raised:
- You didn’t lure the child and were instead trying to protect his safety or health
- Other circumstances existed that made you believe that the child needed help
- You were not the person who lured the child into a motor vehicle or structure
- You were somewhere else when the offense occurred and have an alibi
- You had the consent of the child’s parents to invite him or her into your home
The particular defenses that might apply in your case will depend on what happened. Your attorney may identify other defenses beyond these that can be raised.
What to do if you are arrested on suspicion of luring
If you are arrested and charged with luring a child into a structure or motor vehicle, do not resist the officer. You do not have to make any statements, and you should avoid making them. Do not think that you can talk your way out of an arrest or charge. You have the right to remain silent, and you should use that right.
If the officers try to question you about the alleged offense, tell them that you want to remain silent and that you want to talk to an attorney. When you assert your rights, the questioning must end. If you are held in jail, don’t talk about why you were arrested, and do not discuss anything about what happened to your friends or loved ones over the phone from the jail. Jail calls are recorded and can be used against you by the prosecutor.
You should never talk to the prosecutors or police without a lawyer being present. The things that you say can be used against you, and your statements may be taken out of context.
Once you retain an attorney, he or she will see if there is enough evidence for the prosecutor to be able to prove his or her case against you. If the reason for luring the child was lawful, your attorney will look for evidence showing that you asked the child to get into your car or to enter your structure for a lawful reason. If you had the parent’s consent, your attorney will try to find witnesses who can confirm that.
Get help from an experienced defense lawyer at DiCindio Law
Crimes against children and kidnapping offenses are viewed harshly in Pennsylvania. When you are facing a luring charge, you should anticipate that the prosecutor will be determined to secure a conviction and a harsh sentence. You should choose an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands how prosecutors build their cases so that he or she can anticipate the arguments that the prosecutor might raise and effectively counter them.
As a former prosecutor, Michael DiCindio at DiCindio Law clearly understands how prosecutors approach their cases. He has experience working on both sides and knows how to challenge evidence and build strong defense cases. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation by filling out our online contact form.