I was contacted the other day by the Bergen Record regarding an article they were doing on the rising number of luring incidents in the north jersey area recently. The article, entitled, “Luring attempt in Bergenfield is the latest in a string across north jersey”, details another alleged luring incident which occurred in Bergenfield. This is the 15th incident or luring or enticing in Bergen County since mid-September. This is a startling number.
As I stated in the article, luring is a very rare and specific charge and it is very difficult to prove. The reason is, one of the elements of the offense is that the defendant was luring or enticing a minor “with the purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the child”. This is usually a sex act that they intend to commit on the child which is why luring or enticing a minor is considered a sex offense and requires Megan’s Law registration if convicted.
Now, when the State has hard evidence such as text messages, emails, chat room transcripts, etc. which show a defendant luring a minor in an attempt to commit a sex act on or with them, then the case is obviously much easier to prove. However, in the rise of incidents in Bergen County, some of the incidents are not so clear. However, once the defendant takes a significant step in an attempt to take the minor against his or her will, then this becomes a kidnapping charge as opposed to luring or enticing. Remember, luring or enticing is essentially attempting to trick or deceive a minor into a vehicle or secluded area with the purpose of hurting the minor at a later time. As such, the State must almost assume motive when a stranger is interacting with a minor. On the other hand, if they don’t assume motive and wait too long, then the defendant may take a significant step and the minor can be assaulted, etc. Therefore, is is imperative that our children are protected but we can’t jump to conclusions in every case. We don’t want the police arresting a grandfather who offers to buy an ice cream for a young boy who reminds him of his grandson. We don’t want to jump to conclusions in situations like this and trample the Constitution. However, we must also take all steps necessary to protect children from true cases of luring or enticing.