Online Solicitation of a Minor

In 2003, then Attorney General Greg Abbott established a Cyber Crimes Unit, primarily to catch child predators online. In order to obtain a solicitation of a minor charge, law enforcement officers pose as minors in online chat rooms, even on adults-only, sexually oriented websites. Officers, some of who are experts at identifying lonely or unaware individuals, attempt to instigate a statement "to solicit or entice" a meeting or sexual conduct. Cases may be brought against persons who lacked intent to actually engage in any activity, believing their conduct to be an anonymous internet fantasy. Unexpectedly, an individual may be facing a felony charge, which entails prison time and possible lifetime registration as a sexual predator. 

In 2014, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals struck down much of the Solicitation of a Minor statute (33.021); however, subsection (c) of the statute remains constitutional. So what constitutes the crime of Online Solicitation of a Minor in Texas? A person violates the statute if the person, over the Internet or by electronic mail or a commercial online service, knowingly solicits a minor to meet another person, including the actor, with the intent that the minor engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with the actor or another person. 

A minor is defined as an individual who represents himself or herself to be younger than 17 years of age or an individual whom the actor believes to be younger than 17 years of age. This definition is important because it permits undercover officers to be classified as a minor if they represent to the actor that they are under 17. This is commonly done early on and often in the conversation. 

An offense under Subsection (c) is a felony of the second degree and requires an individual to register as a sex offender. 

It is a defense to prosecution under this section that at the time the conduct was committed the person was married to the minor or the person was not more than three years older than the minor and the minor consented to the conduct.

The most common defense may be entrapment. Officers may not improperly induce a suspect to commit a crime. The officer is not allowed to initiate sexually related conversations or be the person who proposes to engage in sexual activity. Entrapment defenses are complex and not as straightforward as they initially appear. These defenses must be well developed and researched by looking at the totality of the circumstances and the background of the individual. Paul finds it especially important to fully understand his client in order to best represent him or her. 

While they encompass a broad range of criminal activities that can be performed with new technology, all cyber crimes carry harsh consequences. If you're facing a charge of solicitation of a minor, you will need a practiced defense lawyer to present your case. Paul is an experienced trial lawyer who will aggressively fight to ensure you receive a fair case in court. Paul conducts extensive investigations for his clients, knowing that the prosecution can often overlook important facts that may render a different judgment. The investigation is especially important regarding cyber crimes. Innocent people may easily be charged with crimes they didn't commit and actual perpetrators are often hard to find. Paul works to analyze the details of each of his client's cases to marginalize the possible consequences of a cyber crime conviction.

If you or someone you know has been accused of a cyber crime, you need a lawyer who has dealt with similar cases and has the knowledge to defend you. Paul Doyle understands the complexities of cyber crimes and knows how to fully develop defenses. Contact Paul Doyle now to discuss your case.