Online Solicitation of a Minor
Sex Crimes Attorney
The popularity of Internet communication via chat rooms, message boards and instant text-messaging has resulted in a number of cases in which it has been alleged that people have used technology to intentionally solicit sex with someone that was under the age of 17. In many cases, such solicitation is recorded as a part of a “sting operation” conducted by state and/or federal law enforcement officials. Since such sex crimes are morally offensive to a large section of the population, prosecutors have often used such sting operations to enhance their reputations as being “tough on crime.” Unfortunately, these prosecutors will often be more interested in their public reputations than in the constitutional rights of the accused.
Internet Solicitation and its Criminal Punishments
The Texas laws used to prosecute alleged cases of Internet solicitation are taken from various sections of the State Penal Code. However, in general terms, Internet solicitation of a minor means that a person knowingly attempted to meet with an underage person for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity. Under Texas law, it is not necessary that a sexual act take place in order to convict on this charge; mere intent, if such intent can be proven, itself is sufficient to convict.
Section 33.021 of the Texas State Penal Code, “Online Solicitation of a Minor,” provides that a conviction for online solicitation of a person under the age of 17 for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity can:
- Be punished by a third degree felony
- Carry a prison term of from 2 to 10 years
- Carry a fine of up to $10,000.
However, if the person solicited is 14 years of age or under, the offense is increased to a:
- Second degree felony
- Prison term of from 2 to 20 years
- Fine of up to $10,000
- Combination of fine and prison time
In addition to incarceration and a fine, those convicted of Internet solicitation are frequently required to register with their local law enforcement agencies as a sex offender.
Defenses Against Charges of Online Solicitation
Given the potential severity of such sentences, it is vital that anyone accused of online solicitation of a minor obtain the services of an attorney that is familiar with defending those accused of sex crimes. The burden of proof in online solicitation charges rests with the state prosecutor. In general, this means that the prosecutor must prove:
- That the accused knew, or had reason to believe, that the person solicited was under the age of 17
- That the accused was the first to suggest that a meeting take place for the purpose of some sort of sexual activity
- That the accused made a deliberate effort at physical contact with the person solicited
There are, of course, a number of other defenses that can be raised in online solicitation cases. However, such defenses are typically beyond the capabilities of the general public and should be entrusted to a qualified criminal defense attorney.
Contact Brett Podolsky
Houston criminal lawyer Brett Podolsky has successfully defended a number of clients against charges of online solicitation and related offenses. Drawing from his experiences as a former state prosecutor and his 15 years as a board certified criminal attorney in the State of Texas, Brett Podolsky is ready to mount an aggressive defense on behalf of his clients against online solicitation and other related criminal charges.
To begin you successful criminal defense, you should arrange for a free initial consultation by contacting Brett Podolsky at 713-227-0087.