Houston Lawyer for Online Solicitation of a Minor Charges
Facing sex crimes charges is daunting, but when minors are involved, the stakes become even higher. Being convicted of a sex crime involving a minor, such as online solicitation of a minor, can have life-altering consequences. It can impact where you find work, the neighborhood in which you can live, and how you are perceived by your community. Moreover, being convicted of a sex crime involving a minor in Texas can lead to substantial jail time and/or steep financial penalties.
As a leading criminal defense law firm in Houston, Texas, the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak fearlessly represents individuals accused of sex crimes involving minors. By leveraging our years of experience, we have been able to secure better outcomes for our clients. We understand how overwhelming and nerve-wracking it is to face criminal charges in Texas. If you or a loved one is facing online solicitation of a minor charges, you are not alone. Schedule a free consultation with our office today at (832) 315-6283.
What is Online Solicitation of a Minor in Texas?
In the digital age, ensuring the safety of children online is a great concern. For this reason, there has been an increased focus on identifying and charging people who engage inappropriately with minors on the Internet. In Texas, online solicitation of a minor is a serious offense. To fully understand the implications of these charges, it is important to understand what it means to solicit a minor online.
According to Section 33.021 of the Texas Penal Code, online solicitation of a minor occurs when a person, age 17 or older, engages sexually with a minor under the age of 17 over the Internet, by electronic mail or text message, or through a commercial online service. Specifically, the law prohibits the following actions:
- Communicating in a sexually explicit manner with a minor.
- Distributing sexually explicit material to a minor.
- Soliciting a minor to meet to engage in sexual contact or sexual intercourse with the accused or another person.
It is important to note that one of the key components of this crime is intent. For the behavior to be considered unlawful under the Texas Penal Code, there must be intent to engage in the aforementioned actions with the objective of communicating or soliciting minors in a sexual manner.
What are the Penalties for Online Solicitation of a Minor?
Any sex crime involving a child is taken seriously in Texas, and online solicitation of a minor is no different. The penalties associated with this crime are largely dependent on the circumstances of the situation. Section 33.021(f) of the Texas Penal Code sets forth the legal consequences of soliciting a minor online.
- In cases where the accused person communicates sexually with a minor or distributes sexually explicit material to a minor, the offense is considered a felony of the third degree. The offense becomes a second-degree felony if the minor is younger than 14 years of age or if the accused individual believes that the minor was under the age of 14.
- In cases where the defendant knowingly solicits a minor to meet with the goal of engaging in sexual contact or sexual intercourse, the offense is considered a felony of the second degree.
If the offense was committed during regular primary or secondary school hours, or if the accused individual should have known that the minor was enrolled in primary or secondary school at the time of the offense, then the punishment for online solicitation of a minor increases. In these cases, the charges will increase to the punishments set forth for the next higher category of offense.
Felony charges can result in prison time and financial penalties. Section 12.32, 33, and 34 of the Texas Penal Code discuss these punishments in detail, which include:
- First degree felony: Between 5-99 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Second degree felony: Between 2-20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Third degree felony: Between 2-10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
It is possible to minimize the penalties of this crime with the help of an experienced online solicitation of a minor attorney. At the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak, we have navigated a wide range of cases and understand the most effective defenses available to individuals accused of soliciting a minor online.
What are Common Defenses to an Online Solicitation of a Minor Charge?
Depending on the circumstances of the case, there are specific defenses that can be employed to reduce the charges or secure an outright dismissal. Some of the most common defense strategies that we have utilized for our clients include:
- Age and relationship to minor: If the accused individual was married to the minor at the time of the offense, this may be a viable defense against charges. Moreover, if the accused person was not more than three years older than the minor and the minor consented to the conduct, this can be a defense to prosecution.
- Entrapment: In Texas, it is possible to argue that law enforcement lured a person into committing a crime. If a defendant can prove that a defendant was induced to engage in unlawful conduct through persuasion or other means, this can be a powerful defense to online solicitation of minor charges.
Many times, law enforcement will pose as a minor on the Internet to lure in criminals. In some cases, charges may be brought against a person due to a miscommunication. As experienced criminal defense attorneys in Houston, the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak understands how to most effectively navigate these situations to defend your rights.
Contact Online Solicitation of a Minor Attorneys at the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak
No two cases are the same, making it important to handle each situation with an individually tailored legal defense. This is what sets the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak apart from other firms – we handle each online solicitation of a minor case individually, taking the time to form a unique legal strategy that helps reduce or drop charges altogether. If you or a loved one is facing charges regarding a sex crime involving a minor, we will fight for your rights. Consider contacting our Houston office at (832) 315-6283 to speak with an experienced attorney today.