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F E Smith
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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Made a stupid mistake in online chatroom with someone who

Resolved Question:

Made a stupid mistake in online chatroom with someone who said they were under 18. Thought it was a game so went along with it. Never done anything like this before & now worried that police will arrive at my door. Do I report it myself or wait to see if anything happens.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 11 months ago.

Without giving me any specifics, what was the nature of what happened?

Did you arrange to meet?

How old are you?

Please confirm that they said they were under 18 are not over 18.

Has anyone else raised this concern or are you just concerned in case something comes of it.

How long did it go on for? How many exchanges? How did it end? When?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
18+ website. Chatting to people who had interests in games/roleplay. She requested a male over 40, I'm 51. She asked what I thought of a relationship issue she had & things escalated from there. She started by saying she was 15 & interested in a man over 40. I'm concerned in case something comes of it, I was just bored & went along with conversation. Went on about 20 mins then she disconnected chat. It happened yesterday & I'm really worried about it as nevr done anything like this & was messing around.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
no meeting arranged as she was in new york
Expert:  F E Smith replied 11 months ago.

It’s not unknown for law enforcement authorities to pose on websites like this with a view to trapping people. It is the fact that this person said she was 15 years of age which would be the problem if you had met because you are clearly of the knowledge that the person was a minor.

However apart from the fact that there may be thousands of miles between you and there may be some legislation in the United States which stopped this, certainly, based upon what you’ve said, you have not committed an offence in the UK.

To commit the grooming offence you have to arrange to meet someone actually meet a person under 16 with a view to sexually assaulting them. Sexual assault in this case is any sexual contact because a person under 16 cannot consent and hence it is automatically sexual assault. It doesn’t matter if they ask for the sexual contact, it is still sexual assault.

You have to arrange to meet them with view to that or actually meet them and from what you said that did not even remotely take place.

It is not an offence (yet!) to have talk of a sexual nature with a minor provided there are no indecent images involved. In English law, there is no duty to self incriminate and therefore, if you have committed an offence which, based upon what you have said, you have not, you do not have to do volunteer what you have done. If you are asked, you have to admit it you don’t have to volunteer it until you are asked.

I would be very surprised if you heard anything at all.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please don’t forget to rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid.

Best wishes.

FES.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
We certainly didn't talk of meeting up or arrange anything. It was just sexual content & I sent no images at all.
I was just bored & very stupid to get involved & can guarantee that it won't happen again.
Thanks for the advice
Expert:  F E Smith replied 11 months ago.

I would be surprised in the extreme if you heard anything at all. Even if you did, which is unlikely, there is no criminal offence here.

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 9032
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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