Texas Criminal Solicitation Law – Penal Code 15.03

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 What Is the Law on Solicitation in Texas?

Solicitation, in general, involves commanding, requesting, encouraging, or hiring an individual to commit a crime. An individual who is solicited is not required to agree to commit the crime.

The individual who is charged with solicitation has to intentionally ask another individual to commit a crime. If an individual has any questions regarding the different types of solicitation charges in Texas, they should consult with a local Texas attorney.

What Is the Model Penal Code?

The Model Penal Code is a set of laws that heavily influence the state laws that govern solicitation. The code was created by law professionals, lawyers, and judges.

The Model Penal Code is a model for how legal professionals think the criminal laws should read. It is important to note that this code does not include actual laws and does not have any binding effects, although the model laws have influenced many state laws.

What Are State Laws Concerning Solicitation?

Pursuant to the Model Penal Code, solicitation requires an individual to:

  • Intend to promote or facilitate the commission of a crime;
  • Command, encourage, or request another individual to commit the crime.

There are many states that have followed the provisions of the code and have solicitation statutes for all crimes or felonies. There are, however, certain states that only have solicitation statutes for specific crimes.

What Is Criminal Solicitation in Texas?

Under Texas Penal Code 15.03, an individual may be charged with solicitation if they:

  • Ask, request, command, or attempt to induce another individual into engaging in specific criminal activity, such as prostitution;
  • Believe the conduct is a felony in Texas;
  • Make another individual a party to the commission of the crime.

Why Do Some States Have Different Degrees of Solicitation?

Solicitation may differ in the degree based upon several factors, including:

  • The age of the individual soliciting;
  • The age of the individual who is solicited;
  • Whether the crime is a felony or misdemeanor;
  • The exact nature of the crime.

Whether the crime is classified as prostitution or statutory rape will depend on the age of the parties involved. Depending on the state where the perpetrator resides, solicitation may be organized in different ways, including:

  • First Degree: An individual over eighteen, with intent, solicits a minor, sixteen years or younger, into committing a major felony;
    • Such major felonies include murder and rape;
  • Second Degree: An individual, with intent, solicits another adult into committing a major felony;
    • Such major felonies include murder and rape;
  • Third Degree: An individual over eighteen, with intent, solicits a minor, sixteen years or younger, into committing a minor felony;
  • Fourth Degree: An individual, with intent, solicits another adult into committing a minor felony; or
  • Fifth Degree: An individual, with intent, solicits another individual to commit a misdemeanor.

What Is Criminal Solicitation of a Minor?

In the State of Texas, the age of majority is 18. This means any individual younger than 18 is considered a minor.

In Texas, an individual may be charged with online solicitation of a minor if the communication was made through:

  • Text message;
  • Electronic mail;
  • Electronic messaging service or system;
  • Commercial online service.

It is important to note that the communication or solicitation does not have to occur online. This law prohibits any sexual contact with a minor, deviant sexual intercourse, or sexual intercourse.

In addition, it prohibits any communication, material, or language related to sexual conduct, including:

  • Video images;
  • Descriptions of sexual conduct;
  • Photographic images.

Online solicitation of a minor is a third-degree felony. If a defendant is convicted, they may face two to ten years in prison and criminal fines of up to $10,000.

If the minor involved in the crime was under 14 years of age or the defendant believed the minor was under 14 years of age, the crime is a second-degree felony. If convicted of a second-degree felony, a defendant may face two to 20 years in prison and criminal fines of up to $10,000.

An individual who is convicted of online solicitation of a minor in Texas may also face:

  • Limitations of employment professions;
  • Inability to receive government assistance;
  • An inability to enroll in certain educational institutions;
  • Loss of the right to own a firearm.

What Is the Punishment for Solicitation in Texas?

In the State of Texas, solicitation may be charged as a first-degree felony or a second-degree felony. If the solicitation offense was a capital offense, it is charged as a first-degree felony.

In these cases, the defendant may face life without parole or the death penalty. If the crime is charged as a second-degree felony, the defendant may face:

  • Between five and 99 years in prison;
  • $10,000 in criminal fines;
  • Both criminal fines and prison time.

Are There Defenses to Solicitation?

Yes, there may be defenses available to solicitation, depending on the facts of the case. Renunciation is listed as a defense to solicitation in the Model Penal Code.

An individual who renounced their criminal intent to solicit and either persuaded or prevented the solicited individual from committing the crime has successfully renounced the offense of solicitation. In other words, they have renounced the criminal purpose of their actions.

Another defense that a defendant may use is that an individual who solicits cannot commit the solicited crime unless they made preparations for the solicitation in advance. Solicitation is also a non-merger crime. This means that the defendant cannot be charged with solicitation and the actual crime itself. It would be up to the prosecutor to determine which crime is more serious.

If the prosecutor is not as experienced and chooses to prosecute a crime that is more difficult to prove, it may work to the defendant’s advantage.

Can Someone Testify Against Me to Convict Me of Solicitation?

Yes, an individual can testify against the defendant to convict them of solicitation. Any witness whose testimony may assist the prosecution with proving their case can testify for the prosecution.

However, a defendant will typically not be convicted of solicitation based upon the uncorroborated testimony of the individual who claimed to have been solicited. In addition, the witness’ testimony would have to strongly support the defendant’s intent to solicit as well as the solicitation itself.

What Is Not a Defense to Solicitation in Texas?

It is important to be aware that, in Texas, there are some things that will not serve as defenses to the solicitation, including:

  • The alleged solicited individual is not the individual who is responsible for the crime;
  • The felony was actually committed;
  • The alleged solicited individual was acquitted of the crime or was not prosecuted for the crime;
  • The person charged belongs to a class of people who are not legally capable of committing the goal offense;
  • The alleged solicited individual is immune from prosecution; or
  • The alleged solicited individual was convicted of a different crime than the one they were solicited to commit.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

If you have been charged with any form of solicitation in Texas, it is essential to consult with a Texas criminal lawyer. Solicitation is a very serious charge that may result in very serious consequences that may affect both you and your loved ones.

It can be very difficult to defend yourself against these types of charges, so it is important to have a lawyer on your case. Your lawyer can advise you on what defenses may be available to you and help ensure your rights are protected throughout all of the criminal proceedings in your case.

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