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November 9, 2005

Fictious children in the world of guideline sentencing

The Tenth Circuit in US vs. Sims, No. 03-2151 (10th Cir. Nov. 9, 2005) (available here), explores an interesting world of fictions.  Though the legal issues raised in Sims are intricate, the facts are simple:

Sims began a sexually explicit conversation with "sweetthingforyou16" — a screenname Sims believed belonged to a 16-year-old girl named Sue and a 12-year-old named Kate. In fact, "sweetthingforyou16" was a middle-aged man in Springfield, Missouri, who had assumed the Internet profile of a teenage dancer named Sue as a gag and who represented himself as both Sue and Kate to Sims.

The subsequent investigation, conviction and sentencing of Sims on various sex offenses produces a range of interesting legal questions in Sims.  A number of sentencing issues are addressed in Sims: there is an extended discussion of departures on the basis of diminished capacity and aberrant behavior, as well as an interesting determination by the court that "fictitious children, used as part of an undercover sting operation, may be treated as separate victims" for guideline sentencing purposes.

November 9, 2005 at 11:06 PM | Permalink

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