Being charged with the offense of online solicitation of a minor can be a frightening experience that carries significant consequences with it. If you have been charged with this offense, it is in your best interest to quickly retain the legal services of a criminal lawyer like James Alston who can aggressively defend your freedom and your reputation.
What is Online Solicitation of a Minor?
Online solicitation of a minor under the Texas Penal Code is a felony of the third-degree. If the minor is younger than 14 years old, the charge is a felony of the second degree. A prosecutor must prove all of the necessary elements of the crime, which include:
- The defendant acts with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.
- The defendant uses the Internet, email, texts or other electronic message service or system for the purpose of gratification, to communicate in a sexually explicit manner with a minor or distribute sexually explicit material to a minor.
- The defendant is at least 17 years of age.
The prosecutor must prove all of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the minor in question was the defendant’s spouse, the defendant will have a defense to the crime. Similarly, if a defendant is older than a consenting victim by three or fewer years, he or she will have a defense.
Legal Definition of a Minor
Section 33.021 of the Texas Penal Code defines a minor as an individual who is younger than 17 years of age, an individual who represents that he or she is younger than 17 years old or an individual whom the defendant believes is under 17 years old. These definitions are important because many arrests for these types of crimes arise from sting operations in which police officers represent themselves as minors online.
Penalties for Online Solicitation of a Minor
The potential punishment for the conviction of online solicitation of a minor is severe; a person can be convicted of a third-degree felony and serve between two and 10 years in prison. A convicted defendant may also be fined up to $10,000. Potential penalties increase if the minor is 14 years of age or younger; a convicted defendant may be faced with a second-degree felony charge and a prison term of up to twenty years in this instance. An individual who is convicted of this sex crime is usually required to register as a sex offender with the local law enforcement agency.
Talk to a Houston Criminal Lawyer
James Alston is a qualified defense attorney who has provided valuable legal services for defendants in the Houston area for many years. As a former assistant district attorney, Mr. Alston has plenty of knowledge and skills in all areas of criminal law. Give him a call today to set up a free legal consultation.