Houston Police Target Online Sex OperationsPublished: Feb 24, 2017 in Sex Crimes
With online anonymity as a real concern, Texas law enforcement is making a concerted effort and specifically targeting online sex operations, proving it is difficult for individuals to hide behind computers. These federal and state agencies have several legal methods of obtaining identifying information associated with usernames and IP addresses. Obviously, they will do what they can within the law to obtain the necessary evidence and warrants to arrest individuals for online sex crimes. However, these methods are not foolproof, and the police can make mistakes, which will only lead to otherwise innocent people being charged.
If you are being accused of committing a sex crime through the Internet, do not hesitate to seek legal advice from Houston sex crimes lawyer Ned Barnett. Call (713) 222-6767 to see how attorney Barnett can help.
Operation Safe Holiday
A partnership between Homeland Security and the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force recently led to a sting operation that ended with 36 arrests for child sex crimes. Known as “Operation Safe Holiday,” the organizations conducted the operation from October through December., where officers posed as adults as well as children, and were ultimately the recipients of child pornography or established plans with individuals who believed they were going to meet with minors for sexual acts. Not all of the defendants were from Montgomery County. Some of the individuals, like a Marine from South Carolina, were also arrested due to contacting and sending images of child pornography to a computer within the county.
The most common charges that arose from Operation Safe Holiday included:
- Online solicitation of a minor: A third or second-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years or 2 to 20 years in prison, respectively.
- Possession of child pornography: A third-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.
- Promotion of child pornography: A second-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison.
- Attempted aggravated sexual assault of a child: A second-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison.
Convictions Lead to Sex Offender Registration
In addition to years in prison and steep fines, individuals convicted of these crimes will be required to register as a sex offender in Texas. This process entails filling out forms, communicating with local law enforcement, providing personal information, photographs, and fingerprints. Registration requires consistent check-ins with law enforcement, and an offender must speak with a new area’s law enforcement if they move or will be in this area for more than a week. Some registration periods are for 10 years. However, many have to register for their lifetime.
Defending Against Online Sex Crimes
If you are accused of a committing a sex crime via the Internet, you should work with an experienced Houston sex crimes attorney as soon as possible to build an effective defense. These cases can seem clearer than they really are. From the outside, an IP address looks like an objective fact. However, law enforcement could have gotten something wrong. Additionally, even an accurate IP address cannot distinguish the person sitting at the computer. Many individuals have been charged with crimes committed on their computers by other individuals.
There are a number of defenses to sex crime charges, including:
- A case of mistaken identity
- You have a solid alibi
- You were married to the victim at the time of the incident
- The alleged victim consented and was of age to consent
- You are not more than 3 years older than the alleged victim
- A psychological issue that made you unable to understand what was happening
Facing accusations of a sex crime involving children is horrifying and you likely want the situation over with as soon as possible. This leads many defendants to take a plea deal, even when they are not guilty. Instead of admitting to something you did not do, work with Ned Barnett to prove your innocence. Attorney Barnett has decades of experiencing in analyzing these cases and building his client’s strong defenses.
Contact a Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer Today
No matter how the charges came about, you deserve a skilled attorney on your side to protect your rights and fight for your freedom. Ned Barnett has more than 30 years of experienced as a Texas criminal defense attorney. He understands what is at stake in these situations, which is why he offers compassionate yet aggressive representation.