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What To Do When Charged With Online Solicitation

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski
Arrested man

The laws surrounding sexual crimes are serious but are often misunderstood by those who aren’t familiar with the judicial system. More than 18,000 sexual assaults were reported to Texas law enforcement agencies in 2019.

It’s assumed the actual number of sexual offenses is much larger. In recent years, crimes related to online solicitation have skyrocketed. With easy access to the internet, users are often unaware their activity may get them into trouble. Anyone who uses the Internet needs to understand these laws and how to protect themselves..

What is online solicitation? What penalties does a person face for it? What should you do when facing charges, and what defenses are there for online solicitation in Texas?

Answer these questions and you can avoid being convicted of a heinous crime. Here is your quick guide.

Learn the Definition of Online Solicitation

Section 33.021 of the Texas Penal Code supplies the definition of online solicitation of a minor. It occurs when someone who is 17 years of age or older engages in a sexually explicit activity with someone younger than 17.

They may communicate in an explicit manner. The perpetrator may ask the minor to perform sexual activities, or they may describe sexual conduct at length. They may give the minor sexually explicit material, including pornography.

The person may arrange an in-person meeting so they can have sex with the minor. It does not matter if the meeting never happens.

Solicitation can occur through an email, chatroom, or social media post. The perpetrator can use a smartphone or computer.

Know the Potential Penalties

Communicating a sexually explicit message or sending explicit materials is a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies have a minimum prison sentence of two years and a maximum sentence of ten years.

The offense carries a second-degree weight if the minor was younger than 14. If the perpetrator believed the minor was younger than 14, it also counts as a second-degree crime.

If the solicitation was done to arrange an in-person sexual meeting, it becomes a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony carries a minimum sentence of two years, but a judge can give up a sentence of 20 years.

The judge may mandate additional penalties. They may ask that the perpetrator be registered on the sex offender registry. They may demand that they take classes or attend psychological therapy.

Other charges may accompany online solicitation. If the perpetrator receives sexually explicit photographs of the minor, they can get charged with child pornography.

Assess the Situation

You may be informed by the police that you have been charged with online solicitation. You may be very upset, but you should not panic.

Read the warrants that the police have for you. Look at your browser history and cellphone data and review what happened.

Do not delete any information off of your devices. The police do have ways to recover data, including text messages. It makes you look suspect if you delete anything.

Do not communicate with minors while you are facing charges. Under no circumstances should you reach out to the person alleging sexual misconduct. Stay off of the Internet as much as possible.

If you get arrested, do not fight back. Remain as calm as you can and state that you will invoke your right to remain silent. Keep in mind that you say your name if the police ask you to identify yourself.

If possible, say nothing whatsoever after you invoke your right. Even simple remarks like, “I never touched her,” may seem helpful but they can be incriminating. When you have questions, take them to a criminal defense attorney.

Hire an Attorney

It is imperative that you hire a lawyer as soon as you hear of your charges. Prosecutors are very aggressive when it comes to sex offenses. You cannot handle a case on your own.

Spend some time considering different attorneys. Try to find someone with experience as a prosecutor and defense attorney. Having a well-rounded legal intelligence is essential to winning a solicitation case.

Give over your personal devices to your lawyer. Remember that everything you tell your attorney must remain completely confidential. They will not divulge anything that they find on your devices.

You should also give them a personal statement. This helps them create a narrative that they can use to explain the evidence in the courtroom. You do not have to testify if you do not want to.

Living under the weight of solicitation charges can be difficult. It’s important to try to live as normal a life as you can. Continue working if you have a job or occupy your time with healthy activities. Talk to a therapist if you have trouble living with your emotions.

Potential Defenses If You’ve Been Accused

Entrapment is a common defense. Undercover police officers and activists pose as minors to catch predators. This can result in innocent people being trapped.

If you engaged with a police officer, your lawyer may be able to argue that they initiated the conversation. Without that, you would not have engaged in dialogue. An experienced lawyer could use this defense for a potential aquittal.

The Romeo and Juliet law provides specific protections. Someone who is older than 17 can have sexual contact with a minor if they are less than three years older than them. If you fall under this law, you may have a defense.

Someone may have impersonated you or hacked into your account. Your lawyer can use computer data to show someone else communicated with the minor. Having an alibi that shows you were elsewhere can make a convincing case.

Fight Back With a Lawyer’s Help

Online solicitation of a minor is a serious crime. It involves communicating with minors over the Internet in a sexual manner. It can entail having an explicit conversation or exchanging pornographic materials.

The punishments are severe and if found guilty, you can face jail time for up to 20 years. Prosecutors can, and often will, tack on additional charges that will add time, fines, or other punishments. The consequences can ruin a life.

If you’ve been charged, don’t panic. Call a lawyer immediately and let them start building your defense. An experienced online solicitation lawyer can find ways to protect your rights and allow you to fight the charges.

You have the right to defend yourself and you also have the right to hire an attorney to represent your case. The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski serves Montgomery County and Houston residents charged with sex offenses. She has successfully defended hundreds of clients and won countless cases involving online solicitation, sex crimes, drug crimes, and other offenses. If you need an experienced winner in your corner, Contact us today.

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