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Everything About Texas Online Solicitation And Staying On The Right Side Of The Law

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

Texas has quite a long history when it comes to strict law enforcement. From the legendary Texas Rangers of yesterday to today’s tough talking politicians, Texas is known as a law and order state. And for those charged with a crime, the odds of winning are slim. Online solicitation laws are particularly tough on the accused.

When it comes to sex crimes, Texas courts are brutal with defendants whether it’s online, in person, or any number of ways one could be charged.

Clearly the internet has changed the way our society functions. It has moved jobs into new and unusual places. It has created jobs where there once were no jobs. The internet has also created access to sex-related material, imagery, videos, and connections between individuals.

Texas sex crime laws have been updated to punish those who run afoul of what’s legal in the state. Along with serious prison time, convictions also come with severe fines and penalties.

Law enforcement often targets sex workers and those who engage in sex for money. Online solicitation has serious legal consequences.

The consequences are more severe if any of these involve a minor or even someone pretending to be a minor.

Online solicitation is a serious crime in Texas.

An Internet solicitation charge can include physical acts that offer sexual pleasure over the internet. These acts are usually in return for some form of monetary compensation. Courts have ruled solicitation can be either a misdemeanor or charged as a crime or sexual offense.

Solicitation can also be forceful or self-motivated. The penalties for forced solicitation are present when felony charges of solicitation can occur. This crime almost always involves minors or women and the lack of their consent.

What are the laws around solicitation? Who’s at risk of breaking the law online? Are you or someone you know possibly breaking the law?

What is Online Solicitation?

First, Texas looks after the safety of minors online. The safety of young people is important to all and there are specific laws in place to insure minors are protected. The Internet solicitation of minors is a severe offense. Many people don’t know that a person has committed a crime with a simple online request. These charges can happen even though they haven’t had contact with a child.

Police sting operations for sex crimes are often targeted at individuals online. Usually, a law enforcement officer presents themselves as a minor and access message boards, online forums, and social media platforms to engage potential respondents. The officer may set also set up an Internet profile or access a chat room using a cover profile.

If users even hint at any sexual activity with the officers virtual profile, it’s not unusual for the officer to engage the suspect for long periods of time gathering any potential criminal evidence.

It’s important to understand that police investigators will collect and maintain all information and communication when conducting these operations. All of this can and will be used in any case brought against the defendant. Additionally, they will maintain a list of all internet contacts for leverage against the defendant.

Oftentimes, those facing charges don’t realize the rules of entrapment do not apply to online stings. They maintain their innocence but will have a difficult time explaining the mountains of online evidence gathered against them. Even though officers are discouraged from suggesting sexual acts or seducing suspects online, the laws surrounding these tactics are vague.

In Texas, courts often side with law enforcement if a suspect is unable to mount a strong defense.

Internet Solicitation in Texas

Texas internet solicitation laws heavily favor law enforcement. Guilty pleas and convictions are commonplace. In Texas, one can be hit with charges if they even hint at online solicitation. The police usually suppose any person is engaging in prostitution if he or she willingly participates in discussing such behavior or makes plans to engage in an act.

If any person attempts to engage in a sexual act for money, they are guilty of solicitation.

The police will document and record all of these communications. State lawyers will then use the recordings of the correspondence.

Building a strong defense case requires experience and legal expertise in Texas online solicitation law. Otherwise, the full weight of the Texas legal system will be used to get a guilty verdict.

The current laws in Texas state under subsection (c) state that the person performing solicitation cannon even do so under the guise of electronic mail.

Texas is often much stricter than other states. The court rarely considers a suspects past good deeds or the fact that they may be a good citizen. It’s all about getting a conviction. The laws around solicitation in Texas are particularly severe and prosecutors don’t take solicitation lightly.

The laws are routinely amended and stronger punishments are often applied. Subsection (b) was newly amended, effective 1 September 2015, by Bill 344 of the Senate, after a ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeals, the statute was unconstitutional.

As it is currently written, the person must have the intention of committing either of the offenses alluded to in Article 62.001(5)(A), (B) or Article 62.001(5)(A) to constitute a statutory breach under that law (K).

These simple examples highlight the broad interpretation of the laws in favor of the prosecution. How does one define “intention”?

These articles include several acts. They have sexual assault, indecency with a child, possession of child pornography. The law even includes encouraging prostitution.

Online solicitation charges are some of the most extreme punishments one can face under Texas law.

Penalties and Fines in Texas

The online solicitation of minors is both a state and a federal offense. Under federal law, influencing a minor under 18 to engage in sexual intercourse is a crime that is punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Sentences for online solicitation can also include life imprisonment for a felony conviction.

The fines are more significant if the adult produces child pornography as a result of the act.

Using the internet to share sexual content with a minor under 16 is also a criminal offense. Even a misdemeanor is punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Texas Sex Crime Act also allows internet solicitation of minors a felony.

Under Texas law, an adult over the age of 17 who uses the internet to order a minor to engage in sexual activity is guilty. This adult, if found guilty, then lives with a second-degree felony.

A Second-degree felony could mean up to 20 years in jail and a fine of $10,000.

The use of the internet to submit sexual content to a minor is a third-degree offense under Texas law. However, the application of the law and these punishments are often inconsistent.

A sexual offense criminalizes a broad spectrum of speech. Laws for sexual content in Texas have been subject to review. They are sometimes accused of being over-extended in violation of the first amendment.

In comparison, law enforcement’s “entrapment” practices have been criticized and defense advocates have urged review to protect the rights of the accused. It may be helpful to read more of the new case law for updated details.

Tough Life After Solicitation

In Texas online solicitation is a punishable offense. The severity of the punishment is a felony conviction. This can land you in prison for up to 20 years.

Even if you do a short time or perhaps plea to a lesser charge, once you have a sexual offense on your record, getting back to a “normal life” is extremely difficult. The negative stigma of a sexual offense can last a lifetime. If you are convicted of a crime with a minor you will have to register as a sex offender. If you are a registered sex offender you will be prohibited from a number of activities and forfeit many rights other citizens enjoy.

As a registered sex offender, neighbors, businesses, friends, and schools will have access to these records. Suddenly, the offenders life can be turned upside down forever.

Potentially, you may not be allowed to be around anyone who is under 18 and you may not be allowed at school functions. If you are a parent or grandparent, this could present itself with a wide-range of issues for your personal life.

Avoid making mistakes that could cost you a lifetime of misery. If you are using the internet to pursue romantic relationships, make sure you are seeking to someone that is of appropriate age. The internet has a way of letting people masquerade as someone who that are not. If you meet with them in person make sure you know who they are and what you are walking into.

If you live in Texas, be especially careful. Stay up to date with laws. There are a lot of predators out there and there are laws to protect the innocent. Sexual predators are a danger to society and law enforcement goes to extraordinary lengths to find and prosecute those who are on the wrong side of the law.

Don’t put yourself in a situation where you could face online solicitation charges.

Internet solicitation in Texas is no joke.

If you or a loved one is charged with online solicitation or any other sex-related crime, it’s important to get an experienced legal professional on your side immediately. There are ways to defend against unjust prosecution but it takes a good defense attorney who knows the law.

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