Solicitation of a minor even when it is done online is a criminal offense in Texas. While you may never meet that minor in person or have any contact with them outside of your online interactions, it’s still a sex crime in Houston, Texas.
Texas takes crimes against minors very seriously. It also heavily pursues perpetrators of sex crimes. And if you think law enforcement will never discover your online activity, think again. They have their ways of discovering your online interactions and collecting evidence without you ever knowing.
Hence, if you think there’s no way you could be convicted, you could be wrong. Take all charges of criminal activity seriously and hire a Houston, Texas, sex crime attorney to represent you.
How Houston, TX finds and documents online sex crimes
For the most part, law enforcement catches online solicitation of minors through sting operations. During these operations, law enforcement personnel pose as a teenager on social media or within common chat rooms.
When an adult reaches out, law enforcement captures and documents how they interact with the so-called teenager. The enforcement officer interacts as if they are a teenager and allows the relationship to grow so that the offender feels comfortable in taking the next step.
Then, the adult offender schedules a face-to-face meeting only to be surprised to find law enforcement waiting instead of a teenager. The bad news for individuals facing charges of online solicitation of a minor is that these sting operations do not constitute entrapment, so long as the law enforcement officer is not the one who proposes sexual activity.
Facing state and federal charges for online solicitation of a minor
Federal law protects minors from predators seeking to solicit them for sex online. The law protects all minors under the age of 18 and sets the minimum penalty at ten years in prison for perpetrators. But depending on the circumstances, such as child pornography being involved, an individual convicted of online solicitation of a minor could face life in prison.
But what if you never ask to meet the minor face-to-face or solicit sex? If you send sexually explicit material to children under the age of 16, you can still be charged with a felony under federal law and face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
While federal law outlines a possible 10-year prison sentence for soliciting a minor, Texas law carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison for soliciting sex from a minor. This is true even if you did not solicit the act for yourself, but another adult. The charges are even more severe in situations where the perpetrator is soliciting sex from a child they believe to be under the age of 14.
Child solicitation and other sex crimes in Houston, Texas, fall under complicated laws that the average person might struggle to read and understand. That’s why it’s vital to hire a Houston, Texas, sex crime attorney when facing such charges. The Law Offices Of James Alston has experience in both state and federal sex crime cases. Contact us to protect yourself from spending several years in prison related to the online solicitation of minors.