Understanding the Different Internet Sex Crimes in TXPublished: Feb 27, 2023 in Child Sex Crimes, Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes
Sex offenses carry some of the harshest criminal penalties in Texas. And as the internet continues to grow, so do new opportunities for certain criminal offenses, including sex crimes. This makes investigating internet sex crimes a focal point for law enforcement.
However, the laws and sex crime offenses themselves can be confusing. Here is a guide to help you differentiate the different types of internet sex offenses and why someone can expect if accused.
Texas’ Electronic Communications Act of 2001 considers cyberstalking a criminal offense under Texas law. Cyberstalking includes making unwanted sexual advances through a smartphone. It also consists of any threats of violence, repeated unwanted sexual contact, or harassment of an alleged victim, all made online.
Texas law generally considers cyberstalking to be a class A misdemeanor. If convicted, you can spend up to one year in a Texas county jail and pay fines up to $4,000.
Some cases of cyberstalking can be charged as a third-degree felony. If convicted, you could face fines as high as $10,000 and up to 10 years at a Texas state prison.
For cyberstalking charges to apply, there must be a pattern of malicious behavior online. Because many cyberstalking acts are anonymous, prosecutors struggle to prove this offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Online solicitation involves offering sexual activity for financial gain using social media, online ads, direct messages, or other Internet forums. Online solicitation of a minor is a similar offense under Texas Penal Code § 33.021. Here, you could be accused of attempting to coerce a child into engaging in sexual activities through the Internet.
Online solicitation charges often occur when law enforcement officials engage in sting operations. Your criminal defense attorney could question whether officials entrapped you.
Suppose you are accused of online solicitation or online solicitation of a minor. You could face a misdemeanor or felony charge. The charge will depend on the alleged victim’s age, your criminal history, or other circumstances.
If convicted, you will likely be required to register as a sex offender, spend as much as 20 years in a Texas state prison, and pay fines as high as $10,000.
Sex trafficking predominantly occurs in underground networks. Recently, however, it has expanded to the Internet. After someone abducts or gains control over an alleged victim, they go online to sell the victim.
Under Texas law, sex trafficking is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Under Texas Penal Code Section § 21.16, it is against the law for someone to post or disclose sexually explicit videos or photos without the consent of the owner or individual depicted.
The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to humiliate, distress, or embarrass the alleged victim.
Revenge porn is considered a felony offense under Texas law. If you are convicted, you could spend as much as two years in a state jail facility and pay fines of up to $10,000.
According to Texas Penal Code § 43.26, child pornography offenses apply to anyone who possesses or creates pornographic images, videos, or materials. They also apply to anyone who distributes these materials online or in person.
You can also face criminal child pornography charges for searching for child pornography on the Internet and accidentally downloading child pornography.
Anyone convicted of a child porn offense can expect to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives.
The child’s age, type of material, number of images, or other factors can impact the consequences of a conviction.
In the worst cases, child pornography convictions result in 20 years to life in a Texas state prison, fines of up to $10,000, and restitution to victims.
Sexting and Minors
Under Texas Penal Code Section § 43.261, minors are prohibited from sending suggestive or sexual images or videos to other minors. They also cannot receive this content from other underage persons.
Minors accused of sexting could face severe criminal penalties if convicted. This is usually considered a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
However, based on the details of your case, this charge could increase to a class B or class A misdemeanor. If convicted, you could spend up to one year in a Texas county jail and pay a maximum fine of $4,000.
Subsequent offenses could result in child pornography charges, which can potentially lead to a life sentence.
According to Texas Penal Code § 42.07, online assault charges are like cyberstalking. However, online assault charges involve taking action on the Internet to conduct a violent event.
This could include harassment, making unwanted sexual advances, or any threats that cause an alleged victim apprehension, fear, or anxiety.
These are generally charged at the misdemeanor level, so you can expect to spend time in a Texas county jail, pay fines, and face other criminal penalties if convicted.
Online Sexual Exploitation Of a Minor
Online sexual exploitation of a minor is a steeper offense than online solicitation.
According to Texas Penal Code § 33.021, it is a felony to engage or establish relationships with minors online to lure or coerce a minor to meet in person to engage in sexual activity.
These are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and a lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Get Help From an Internet Sex Crime Attorney
An Internet sex crime charge can jeopardize your future. Accusations can be devastating, and the consequences of a guilty verdict could change your life forever.
Make sure to work with a knowledgeable and experienced Texas Internet sex crimes lawyer at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett if you hope to clear your name.