Online Solicitation of a Minor Legal Defense

The law provides, under 33.021(c) of the Texas Penal Code, that if a person “knowingly solicits a minor to meet another person, including the actor, with the intent the minor will engage in sexual contact,” they can be charged with Online Solicitation of a Minor.  

But… the “minor” doesn’t actually have to be a minor.

A person can be charged for responding to messages or emails from a police officer pretending to be an individual younger than 17. This means that you could be facing charges for a crime that you didn’t technically commit. Unfortunately, it is not a defense that the meeting didn’t actually happen.

Online Solicitation Charges Have Big Punishments

In Texas, a person faces 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.00 if they travel to meet another person purporting to be a minor, for purposes of sexual contact. The law doesn’t distinguish that the individual could be a police officer who is working in response to a financial incentive grant.

In Montgomery County, Texas, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office has an unpublished office policy that their Assistant District Attorneys will only offer prison time to persons arrested and charged with Online Solicitation of a Minor. That person also faces registration for ten years as a sex offender. This will show up on the background checks for future jobs, loan applications, and more.

In addition, you’ll lose your legal right to own a firearm. You will also be disqualified from receiving some types of student loans. As a result, this charge could have significant ramifications for your future.

What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney for Online Solicitation of a Minor Cases

While this may seem dire, there are things that can be done to help.  Experience matters. When you look to hire a criminal defense attorney to try an online solicitation of a minor case, it’s important that he or she has experience trying and winning these cases. After all, you could be more likely to face prison time if you have inadequate counsel. I have over 15 years of law experience in these types of cases in The Woodlands, Texas area.  

You also want to choose a criminal defense attorney that you’re comfortable with and that will listen to your side of the story. The details of the case matter. For example, if you were charged as a result of a police sting, sometimes there are different defense approaches to take than if you’re only a few years older than the minor.

FAQ Solicitation of a Minor

Got questions about Solicitation of a Minor? We’ve got you covered with the most frequently asked questions regarding solicitation of a minor, particularly as it relates to the Texas penal code.

Under what conditions will I have to register as a sex offender?

Whether you plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest, if your case results in a conviction of online solicitation of a minor, you must register as a sex offender. If you plead guilty or no contest in a request for deferred adjudication, you are still required to register as a sex offender, despite the fact that there is no trial and no verdict. 

Is online solicitation of a minor a felony?

Yes. Online solicitation of a minor is a third degree felony. The charge escalates to a second degree felony if the minor is under the age of 14, or even if the solicitor believes the minor is under 14. Sometimes police officers will go online and pretend to be minors in order to incriminate solicitors, but even if the officer is an adult impersonating a minor, it is still considered a crime. 

Can you be charged with online solicitation of a minor if you are under 17?

Yes, under subsection (c) of the law it does not specify that the solicitor must be any particular age:

(c) A person commits an offense if the person, over the Internet, by electronic mail or text message or other electronic message service or system, or through a commercial online service, knowingly solicits a minor to meet another person, including the actor, with the intent that the minor will engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with the actor or another person.

Texas Penal Code §33.021 (c)

What if I never met with the minor? Can I still be convicted?

Yes. The act of communication regarding a meeting is where the crime lies, regardless of the end result. The act of meeting the minor and the actions that ensue from there can escalate the severity of the conviction and sentencing. 

What if I never intended to meet with the minor?

Before the repeals to the statutes that were made in 2015, lack of intent was not considered an acceptable defense. As of September 2015 that provision was repealed, making it a possible line of defense that you never intended to meet with the minor. 

What sort of defense can an attorney use on my behalf?

One acceptable defense is that the minor is the spouse of the defendant. Another possible defense is that the minor is less than 3 years younger than the defendant and that the minor consented. Another is entrapment, suggesting that a law enforcement officer induced the defendant to commit a crime they would not have committed otherwise. 

Can I be charged with solicitation of a minor in addition to online solicitation of a minor?

While these charges are similar, they are still separate offenses. You can be charged with both simultaneously in cases where both apply.

Talk to an attorney now by calling (832) 381-3430 or contact Andrea M. Kolski Attorney at Law to reach an expert criminal defense attorney in The Woodlands, Texas area with experience trying Online Solicitation of a Minor cases. I’m happy to discuss with you the details of your case to see how I can help. I have helped other clients get the most successful outcomes for their criminal cases in The Woodlands, Houston, and Conroe.

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