People in North Dakota and across the country are convicted of crimes every day, but it is very rare that someone is convicted of a crime merely for talking about committing the action. People may be charged with crimes for making a threat, but if the threat was never carried out, there is not much that can be done other than to release the accused.
However, in the case of an officer from the New York Police Department, talking with others about a sexual fantasy resulted in his arrest and subsequent conviction. Authorities state that in 2012, the man had chatted with others in an Internet fetish community about kidnapping, killing and eating numerous women, including his own wife. He had gone into great detail about how he would pull off the crimes, including obtaining information on his supposed targets.
After his wife found suspicious photos on his laptop, she called police and the officer was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and improperly accessing a government computer to obtain information. He was later convicted for those alleged crimes and spent 20 months in prison until a court acquitted him on his charges and reversed his conviction.
Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld the acquittal. A judge stated that violent fantasies against women contribute toward a culture of exploitation, but that the fantasies were not crimes themselves. Additionally, the former officer did not make any effort to obtain any of the items he spoke about in detail in the chat room.
Source: The Washington Post, “‘Cannibal cop’ wins in court again,” Justin Wm. Moyer, Dec. 4, 2015