Online Solicitation a Minor Using a Computer
It’s common for Internet users to have fantasy chats with other adults who pretend to be children or teenagers under 17 years old. If the minor appears to be persistent in meeting you, there’s an excellent chance you may be having a fantasy chat with an undercover cop who’s setting you up for a sting operation. Whether you use the Internet to have fantasy relationships with children or you want to have a real connection with a minor, you place yourself at risk for arrest and incarceration. In Texas, soliciting a minor online is a felony offense, which means steep fines, significant jail time, and having to register as a sex offender if you are convicted. Online solicitation of a minor is a serious offense that has life-altering consequences. The stakes are too high to be without a qualified and skilled attorney. If you have been charged with online solicitation of a minor, the most important decision you will make is hiring a Bryan-College Station child sex abuse lawyer to represent you.
Have You Been Charged with Online Solicitation of a Minor in Brazos County?
The offense of online solicitation of a minor is defined in Texas Penal Code Section 33.021. The Texas legislature recently made amendments to the law to address recent constitutional challenges and those changes went into effect as of September 1, 2015. There are two ways an individual can be charged with online solicitation of a minor. A minor is anyone under the age of 17.
- Under Section 33.021(b), an adult commits an offense if he or she, through the Internet or any electronic message service, intentionally communicates in a sexually explicit manner with a minor or distributes sexually explicit material to a minor. Sexually explicit means any communication, language, or material, including a photographic or video image, that relates to or describes sexual conduct.
- Under Section 33.021(c), a person commits an offense if he or she, through the internet or any electronic message service, knowingly solicits a minor to meet with the intent that the minor would engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse.
Get Help to Prepare Your Defense Against These Charges!
The laws specifically state it’s not a defense to prosecution that the meeting did not actually occur. However, it is a defense to online solicitation under this section if:
- The accused was married to the minor at the time of the offense; or
- The accused was not more than 3 years older than the minor and the minor consented to the conduct
There have been a number of constitutional challenges to this statute in recent years. As recently as 2015, a Texas district court declared this law unconstitutional as a violation of freedom of speech. However, this issue is not well settled as various courts have disagreed on this matter and the legislature has amended the law to address the concerns over constitutionality. This means a conviction under this law is still possible. Amendments to the statute do not apply to charges filed prior to September 1, 2015. Depending on the facts of your case, it may be possible to present a constitutional challenge to charges brought against you under this statute.
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