The National TOP 100 Trial Lawyers
America's Top 100 - Criminal Defense Attorneys
Avvo Reviews
Avvo Ratting 10.0 Top Attorney
Avvo Clients' Choice Award 2018
The University of Texas at Austin School of Law

Cyber Crimes 101: A Guide to Texas Laws on Online Solicitation of Minors

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

In 2019, the FBI released its annual cybercrime report, indicating that they had received an average of over 900 complaints every day!

The internet offers a whole virtual new world, which unfortunately creates a whole new world of crime as well. It is simply an extension of the playing field for most criminals, giving them new and creative ways to exploit, harass and extort their unsuspecting victims.

And much like its non-virtual counterpart, it seems that minors and young children remain the most susceptible to this kind of cyber harassment, online solicitation, and bullying.

What Is Cyber Harassment?

Cyber harassment is simply harassment that occurs online. The simplest way to determine harassment itself is to gauge whether someone is behaving in a manner designed to annoy, provoke or cause some form of emotional distress to someone else.

While this is the bare standard, different states in the U.S may have their own legal definitions to describe similar behavior.

However, given its wide definition, cyber harassment can include a number of separate crimes. Let’s have a look at how Texan laws make this distinction.

Cyber Crimes Recognized in Texas

As far as Texas goes, there are several laws designed to protect victims of various cybercrimes. However many of these are applicable only to students and may not be available to the public at large.


The Texas Education Code applies to instances of students using electronic communication to harass or instill fear in another student. It also includes an extensive definition of “cyberbullying” which extends to the use of cellphones and a wide range of electronic tools to bully another student, on or off grounds.

Online Impersonation

Online impersonation can include things like misrepresenting yourself online as someone else without their permission. Or alternatively, even creating a web page or website under the guise of being someone else can constitute a crime.

Online Solicitation of a Minor

Online solicitation of a minor is regarded as a very serious offense under Texan laws. This kind of solicitation is automatically regarded as a felony but is only applicable to adult defendants.

Who Is a Minor?

Texas laws describe any individual aged 17 or under to be a minor. The law is designed to protect young minors from being unduly influenced or harassed by predators online.

Types of Online Solicitation Covered Under Texas Law

The Texas Penal Code identifies two types of online solicitation against minors. This means, that an adult can be charged with online solicitation if they have performed any of the following acts.

The first involves communicating with a minor in a sexually explicit manner. This includes distributing or sharing sexual content or communicating in a sexual way.

The second involves, intentionally soliciting a minor to meet, with the intention of engaging in promiscuous or sexual activity.

Both these instances must occur over an electronic means of communicating which includes text messages, or any other internet-based communication.

Defining “Sexually Explicit”

Sexually explicit includes any materials, words, videos, visuals, photographs or any other type of communication tool that describes or pertains to any kind of sexual activity. The definition extends to both, distribution of content as well as direct communication.

Penalties for Online Solicitation

The penalties for online solicitation are quite severe under Texas laws, warranting a felony charge in the second or third degree. The penalties vary depending on the severity of the charge.

1. Felony in the Third Degree

A felony in the third degree warrants a fine of up to $10000. Prison time may extend between 2 to 10 years. This does not have any additional age requirement for the minor, with the exception of being 17 or under.

2. Felony in the Second Degree

All forms of online solicitation that include a victim aged 14 or under, or that the defendant believes to be 14 or under are regarded as felonies in the second degree. These crimes warrant fines up to $10000. Prison time extends between 2-20 years.

Those convicted of any type of online solicitation of a minor are also mandated to register as sex offenders.

Defenses Against an Allegation of Online Solicitation

Like domestic violence, there have been several instances of false allegations with online solicitation as well.

Section 33.021(b) of the Texas Penal Code provides for two defenses for any person charged with online solicitation. These include the presence of either of the following circumstances:

  • When the defendant was not more than 3 years older than the minor involved, and the said minor consented to all of the communication/ acts involved.
  • When the defendant was married to the minor involved.

This section has been the subject of a lot of criticism, calling for amendments and other changes within the laws. In fact, the statute itself has come under fire for “violating the freedom of speech”. However, no such change has been made so far, and as things stand, a charge of online solicitation against a minor can still be made in the Texas court of law.

How to Find a Cyber Crime Attorney

Whether you are a victim of cyber harassment or online solicitation or have been falsely accused of committing such crimes, you deserve strong legal representation to make your case.

Make sure you do a lot of research, read reviews and schedule an initial consultation before you choose your lawyer. It is imperative that you choose someone well versed with the laws of your state, and who has the experience of dealing with a variety of cybercrimes and related offenses.

Need some legal expertise to assist you with your case? Take a minute to fill out this short form, and our experienced attorneys will get back to you in no time!

Visit Us

By Appointment Only - Contact Us

The Woodlands Office
8505 Technology Forest Pl #104

The Woodlands, TX 77381

Phone: 832-381-3430

Get in Touch

Free Consultation 832-381-3430

What Our Customers Say

"Andrea is a fantastic attorney versed in many fields. I've retained her services for criminal defense, nondisclosure orders, and family law. She has always provided a...

Steven Street Texas

"Andrea and her staff are definitely one of the greatest of all time. Their professionalism and knowledge of the law and how the system works is unparalleled. I have her...

Dwight Osteen Texas

“Andrea is the most amazing attorney I have ever had in my corner.” — Vincent, client facing 2nd DWI charge, CASE DISMISSED