Becoming the subject of an internet investigation related to the online solicitation of a minor is life altering. Not only are there criminal penalties, but also if convicted sex offender registration rules apply and jobs and housing can be hard to come by because of required background checks.
Recently, the Texas Attorney General announced the arrest of a federal agent on charges of internet solicitation of a minor. The man allegedly posted an explicit online advertisement and arranged a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl who responded. When the man arrived at the location where he had agreed to meet the girl, he found out that the girl was actually an undercover police officer.
The Cyber Crimes Unit arrested the man. He is currently in custody facing second-degree felony charges.
TOOLS AND TACTICS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT ARE CHANGING
In 2003, the Texas Attorney General created the Cyber Crimes Unit, which proactively investigates internet sex crimes. Often undercover law enforcement officers pose as adolescents on social networking sites and in chat rooms. The unit also acts on leads through “Cyber Tips.” Efforts of the special unit have played a part in at least 130 arrests related to online solicitation of minors.
To assist in its work, the unit has sophisticated computer equipment and software. Officers can recover deleted files, crack passwords and access information stored on cellphones and digital cameras.
COMBATTING INTERNET SOLICITATION CHARGES
If there is incriminating digital evidence, the likelihood of detection has increased. There may still be defenses available. For instance, who else might have had access to the electronic device? Questions could arise regarding police entrapment depending on the way in which a sting operated. A successful defense for an internet solicitation charge often requires a thorough understanding of the nuances of the law and attention to detail. You need a lawyer that can help you zero in the best path for your defense. A better understanding of what internet solicitation charges mean can help.
BROAD LEGAL DEFINITION OF INTERNET SOLICITATION OF A MINOR
In Texas, internet solicitation of a child can occur through communication over the internet or via text that is sexually explicit in manner or describes sexually explicit material. A minor is defined as a person under the age of 17 or who is believed to be under the age of 17. Communication alone is a third-degree felony.
When communication leads to a request to meet to engage in sexual activity, the charge is a more serious second-degree felony. It is not a defense to argue the meeting did not occur, was not expected to occur or was a part of a fantasy. The Texas legislature is also considering an amendment that would increase the minimum prison sentence to five years, for any person who attempts to travel any distance with the intent to meet the minor.
If you have been charged with an internet solicitation or child pornography charge in Dallas, the stakes are high and you need an experienced, aggressive advocate in your corner. It is important to contact a Dallas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected and you have the best possible defense.