Solicitation is the asking, requesting, commanding, hiring, or encouraging a person to commit a crime. In Texas, online solicitation of a minor occurs when someone uses the Internet to set up an offline meeting for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct.
How Does Texas Define “Minor”?
A minor refers to any individual representing themselves as younger than 17 years old. It also refers to anyone the defendant believed to be 17 years-old or younger.
Does Online Solicitation Include Sending Sexually Explicit Pictures?
Yes. This crime prohibits sexual contact, deviate sexual intercourse, or sexual intercourse. But it also outlaws any communication, material, or language relating to sexual conduct. This includes:
- Video images
- Descriptions of sexual conduct
- Photographic images
But I Didn’t Solicit Anyone on the Internet, Why am I Charged with this Crime?
The law does not require that the solicitation occur only on the Internet. A person can be accused of online solicitation if the communication was done via:
- Text message
- Electronic mail
- Electronic messaging service/system
- Commercial online service
What is the Charge for Online Solicitation of a Minor?
Online Solicitation of a Minor is charged as a third degree felony. A convicted defendant can face 2 to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. But if the minor was under 14 years-old or the defendant believed they were under 14 years-old, then it is charged as a second degree felony. A conviction as a second degree felony is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Is It a Defense If I Wasn’t Serious about the Meeting Actually Taking Place?
No, it’s not a defenses if the defendant did plan for the meeting to actually happen. It’s also not a defense if:
- The meeting didn’t take place;
- The “victim” was not 17 years old or younger;
- The defendant was partaking in a fantasy at the time the crime occurred
What are Defenses to Online Solicitation in Texas?
There are defenses to this charge. One defenses is if the minor and defendant are married. Another defense is if there was a three-year difference or less between the defendant and minor and the minor consented.
Should I Talk to a Lawyer about Other Possible Defenses available to Me?
Yes. A Texas criminal lawyer will evaluate your case and let you know what possible defenses are available to you, as well as discuss any possible reduction or dismissal of this criminal charge.