This falls under "Things you don't admit to the cops"

I saw it on a cop show once, so it must be true.

Sexual penetration of a minor = decades.
Assault = years.
Solicitation = months.

It’s the latter that they get on the “vile behavior as entertainment” TV shows.

I’m not sure I follow you. If I walk into your house with a gun intending to kill you, but don’t (for whatever reason – changed my mind, shot and missed, you shot me first, etc.) at most I could be convicted of attempted murder. No dead person = no murder.

Similarly, if you walk into a room intending to molest a child, but instead find a beefy police officer, I would assume the most you could be convicted of is an attempt. A completed offense (at least here in California) requires touching of a minor. I mean, I’ve never done one of those cases, but I’m pretty sure that’s an element of the offense. There are other, lesser offenses for other sorts of lewd conduct with children, but I certainly assume they all require the involvement of a minor. Having no child is like having no dead person. At best you’re looking at an attempt, or conspiracy.

Me either. Cops do this locally all the time.

Ah my bad, I misread your original post.