Solicitation of a minor is often referred to as child enticement, which means intentionally luring, inviting, persuading, or enticing a child, who is actually or is believed to be under age 17, to a particular place, such as a building, a home, a hotel room, a car, or any other place with the intention of engaging in sexual contact.
The Internet has made the crime of solicitation of a minor more common. Today, nearly every person of every age has Internet access. Online communication with children and adolescents is easy, through chatrooms, dating sites, and social media. But it is a dangerous endeavor.
Law enforcement agencies use the Internet to conduct sting operations to arrest those who attempt to lure a minor into an illegal sexual situation. Officers pose as teenaged minors online, and when someone contacts them, they respond, and allow the online “relationship” to grow. They keep meticulous records of the conversations, which will later be used as evidence. If a suspect proposes a meeting, they set a time and place. When the person with whom an officer has been conversing online shows up, the police make an arrest. It is entirely possible to be accused and convicted of a sexual offense involving a minor, even when no physical sexual contact occurred.
If you have been accused of child solicitation, the prosecutor must be able to prove:
In cases of online solicitation:
You might claim that the no meeting took place, that you had no intention of actually following through with the sexual act, and that you were only engaged in a sexual fantasy; or you might claim that you didn’t know the age of the child. Or, you might claim entrapment. However, these defenses have not succeeded in the majority of cases. Although entrapment could theoretically be a successful defense in some cases, police officers engaging in online sting operations are well-trained to avoid doing anything that would result in the case being thrown out, and they typically do not initiate contact, which could be deemed entrapment.
It is important to discuss your case with a highly experienced Texas sex crimes attorney in order to create a successful defense. A good lawyer may be able to keep you out of prison and possibly prevent you from being required to register as a sex offender. If you are no more than three years older than the minor, and the minor consented to the act, Texas’s “Romeo and Juliet” law might apply.
Under federal law, online solicitation of a minor under the age of 18 is a felony. Conviction on the federal charge is punishable by a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison. Creating child pornography in conjunction with the solicitation results in higher penalties. Sending sexually explicit material to a child under 16 is also a felony, punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
If you are an adult over the age of 17 and solicit a minor online to engage in sexual conduct, it is a second-degree felony, which can send you to prison for up to 20 years along with a possible fine of up to $10,000. Sending sexually explicit material to a minor is a third-degree felony, with a potential prison sentence of two to 10 years and/or up to a $10,000 fine, unless the recipient is or is believed to be under age 14, in which case it becomes a second-degree felony.
If convicted on a sexually-based felony, you will be generally required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of your life. Your photo, address, and the nature of your charges will be made available to the public, and you will have limitations placed on where you can live and the jobs you can hold.
When you are facing the loss of your freedom, damage to your finances, the destruction of your good name and your options for the future, you need the best legal representation you can find. Call the office of top-rated Houston, Texas sex crimes defense attorney Mary E. Conn for the help you need. Don’t wait. The sooner you hire an attorney from Mary E. Conn Law, the sooner we can get to work to spare you the worst punishments and obtain an outcome that allows you to move forward with the least amount of disruption to your life. Call now for your free consultation.
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