Bad Lawyers

Michael Dobbs Sentenced to Six Months Jail Time
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Summary: Attorney Michael D. Dobbs was given six months for sexual solicitation of a minor when he was caught in an undercover online police sting.

A 57-year-old Maryland defense lawyer has been sentenced to jail for six months after a sex sting caught him soliciting sex from a minor. The longtime and well-established lawyer from north of Washington D.C. in Montgomery County was sentenced Thursday.


The results of the online police sting stunned the local community that Michael D. Dobbs has been a part of for the past 30 years. As the judgment against Dobbs was read out in the Montgomery County courthouse, he stood solemnly listening. Circuit Judge Richard Jordan gave Dobbs three weeks to take care of his legal practice and shut it down before being required to report to jail.

Jordan said, “Mr. Dobbs, as you well know – maybe more than anybody else in this room – this is a serious case, serious impact.” Others in the courtroom were his friends and family members including two adult daughters, his 85-year-old mother, and his wife. There were around 75 people in total in attendance.

Dobbs’ attorney had sought probation for his client but the prosecution asked for six months behind bars. Jordan is recommending that Dobbs be allowed to serve some of this sentence at the Montgomery County Pre-Release Center, a halfway house where inmates can leave to work during the day or attend treatment programs. It is likely that Dobbs will never be allowed to practice law again.

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Prosecutors claim Dobbs was browsing the personal ads on Craigslist when he found one he liked. He began exchanging emails with what he believed was a young man. The person behind the Craigslist post had asked Dobbs in an email, “Are you cool with me being 15?” The person was actually a police officer posing as a 15-year-old named “Brandon.” His personal ad said he wanted to try new things even though his father did not approve of his sexual orientation.

Dobbs was cautious at first but allowed the relationship to continue. Soon there were endless graphic and explicit text messages being exchanged between the two about the types of sex acts they could engage in together. Dobbs agreed to meet the “young man” at a parking lot for a rock-climbing business near his law firm. They planned to drive to the boy’s home where he lived with his mother who was at work supposedly working a double shift. This would allow them to be alone. When Dobbs arrived at the parking lot, he was taken into custody by the undercover police officers waiting for him.

His arrest shocked colleagues mostly because Dobbs should be fully aware of the typical techniques used by police in this kind operation through his work as a defense lawyer and former prosecutor.

Dobbs’ attorney, David Felsen, claimed that he needed continued counseling and treatment for depression, alcohol abuse, and sex addiction. Felsen said, “We all have demons. Some of our demons are things that we can control. Some of our demons are things that we have significant difficulty controlling.”

Dobbs apologized for his actions, “First and foremost, I do want to say how truly sorry I am for my behavior. It’s not just shocking and embarrassing, but it’s also wrong, and I recognize that.” He had claimed that when he learned of “Brandon’s” age, he offered friendly support. A message reads, “How about we keep in touch, we can chat, you can run problems by me. And if you do decide to meet someone now, I am here to remind you to never consent to have sex without a condom. Even if your partner says he is clean and shows you papers of recent tests, it’s not worth it. So keep in touch, OK?” What started out as just a friend turned quickly into a potential sex partner.

Do you think Dobbs got caught in an entrapment scheme or was it his own choice to pursue a relationship with the young man? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about lawyers sentenced to jail time, read these articles:

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