Online Solicitation Across State LinesPublished: Oct 07, 2020 in Sex Crimes
Modern life is saturated by ways to communicate. Your smartphone, for example, allows you to speak, text, email, and message people virtually anywhere through countless apps . This convenience is a blessing, but it can be a curse if misused – even if by accident or unintentionally. For example, what you may have thought was a harmless conversation with someone far away might result in charges like online solicitation of a minor across state lines.
Using any “online” methods to solicit a child 16 or younger for sex is a crime in Texas. If the communication is with someone across state lines, it is a federal crime as well. If you find yourself facing online solicitation of a minor charges, you need experienced Houston sex crime lawyer Ned Barnett. These charges are serious and not only carry significant penalties but can affect your job, family, and reputation.
Do not try to go it alone if you are accused of online solicitation of a minor. Call (713) 222-6767 or reach out online to discuss your case with The Law Offices of Ned Barnett. It’s free and confidential.
Investigations, Online Stings & Arrests
Under Texas state law, using the internet to communicate with a minor in a sexual manner is a felony. It doesn’t matter if you never had intent to meet the minor in real life.
Federal law, 18 United States Code §§ 2422 and 2423 also makes solicitation of a minor online an offense, as is crossing state lines to engage in illicit activity with a minor or sending sexually explicit material to those under 16 through the mail or internet.
While these alleged offenses may be investigated because of a complaint, often they are pursued through “stings” by law enforcement. Operatives pretend to be minors and communicate with people online. If the conversation turns sexual in nature or pictures are sent, investigators may have evidence to proceed with warrants or arrests.
Because the charges could be state or federal (or both), law enforcement agencies could be either as well. For Houston residents, that could mean local or state police if the online communications are with an in-state “victim” or the FBI if the activity crossed state lines.
Online Solicitation of a Minor: Penalties & Consequences
If convicted of state charges for sending sexual messages, sharing child pornography, or setting up a meeting to have sex with a minor, the penalties are harsh. If the victim is under 14, or even just pretending to be, the penalties are greater.
You could face two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000 for a third-degree felony charge, and two to 20 years and fine up to $10,000 for second degree felony.
Besides prison time and fines, consequences of a conviction include a permanent felony criminal record, prohibition on owning a firearm, and requirement to register as a sex offender.
A conviction under federal law for crossing state lines with this activity brings even greater punishment. An offender could get 10-20 years in federal prison, up to $250,000 in fines, and lifetime sex registration. If child pornography was created as well, the penalties increase.
It can’t be overly stressed that a conviction of these types of charges can be devastating and life changing – even if your prison stay is short and your fine low. A conviction will follow you for life and undermine your ability to get a good job, possibly alter your child custody, and keep you from living certain places due to sex offender status.
You Need A Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer
Defending yourself against online solicitation of a minor across state lines requires an experienced attorney. This is not something you can effectively explain away to the officers involved. You will likely make the situation worse. Instead, remain silent and contact a criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in sex crime cases.
As a former prosecutor attorney Ned Barnett knows how these cases are handled and where to look for flaws. With decades of experience and history of helping people in similar situations, he has what it takes to aggressively advocate on your behalf.