In Washington State, Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes is a criminal offense defined under RCW 9.68A.090. This charge generally involves an adult communicating with a minor (someone under the age of 18) with the intent to engage in illegal or immoral sexual conduct. The term “immoral purposes” typically refers to any conduct that is deemed sexually exploitative or illegal, such as exchanging explicit materials, soliciting sexual acts, or engaging in lewd conversations.
Statutory rape is a separate but related offense involving sexual intercourse with a minor below the age of consent. While both offenses involve sexual misconduct with minors, Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes focuses on the communication aspect, while statutory rape is concerned with the actual sexual act.
What Does “Electronic Communication” Mean?
In the context of this criminal charge, “electronic communication” refers to any method of communication that uses electronic means, such as email, text messages, instant messaging, chat rooms, or social media platforms:
- Email: An adult sending explicit content or soliciting sexual acts from a minor through an email exchange.
- Text messages: An adult exchanging sexually suggestive or explicit text messages with a minor using a mobile phone or messaging app.
- Instant messaging: An adult engaging in explicit conversations or sending explicit content to a minor using instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Telegram, or Facebook Messenger.
- Chat rooms: An adult participating in online chat rooms or forums where they engage in sexually explicit conversations with a minor or attempt to solicit sexual acts.
- Social media platforms: An adult using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter to send explicit messages or content to a minor or to engage in sexually suggestive conversations.
- Online gaming: An adult engaging in explicit conversations or attempting to solicit sexual acts from a minor while playing online multiplayer games or using voice or text chat features within the gaming platform.
What If the Communication Isn’t Considered “Electronic Communication”, Will I Still Be Arrested for the Crime?
If the communication is not considered “electronic communication,” you could still be arrested and charged with Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes if the interaction involved immoral or sexually exploitative conduct. The law does not require the communication to be electronic, but the proliferation of digital communication has made it a common medium for these offenses.
Here are some examples of non-electronic communication that could potentially lead to an arrest for this crime:
- Telephone conversations: An adult engaging in sexually explicit or suggestive conversations with a minor over the phone or attempting to solicit sexual acts through voice calls.
- Handwritten letters: An adult sending handwritten letters to a minor that contain explicit content, solicit sexual acts, or otherwise involve immoral purposes.
- In-person communication: An adult engaging in inappropriate or explicit conversations with a minor in person, such as discussing sexual activities or soliciting sexual acts.
- Passing notes or messages: An adult using a third party, such as a friend or acquaintance, to pass explicit notes or messages to a minor or to solicit sexual acts on their behalf.
- Public forums or gatherings: An adult making explicit or suggestive comments to a minor in public places, such as community events, parks, or school functions.
Each case is unique, and the specific circumstances will determine whether the communication is considered criminal.
If you are facing charges of Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes or have concerns about the nature of your interactions with a minor, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation and potential legal defenses.
What Is the Punishment for Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes?
The punishment for Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes in Washington State depends on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. It is typically classified as a Class C felony, which can result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. However, certain circumstances may result in more severe penalties.
There are some defenses available for defendants, such as a lack of intent to commit the crime or the belief that the minor was of legal age. The specific defenses will depend on the facts of the case, and it is essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney for guidance on potential defenses.
Lack of Intent
To be convicted of Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the intent to engage in illegal or immoral sexual conduct. If the defendant can demonstrate that their communication with the minor was not intended for any immoral or sexual purpose, they may have a valid defense.
For example, if the conversation was genuinely about a non-sexual topic, and any sexually suggestive statements were unintentional or taken out of context, this defense might apply.
Belief that the Minor was of Legal Age
If the defendant can prove that they reasonably believed the minor was of legal age, they may be able to use this as a defense. This could involve showing that the minor misrepresented their age or presented false identification. However, this defense may not be successful in all cases, as the court may still consider the nature of the communication and the steps the defendant took to verify the minor’s age.
If law enforcement officers induced or encouraged the defendant to engage in communication with a minor for immoral purposes, the defendant might argue entrapment as a defense. To be successful, the defendant would need to show that they would not have engaged in the illegal conduct without the law enforcement officer’s actions.
The defendant may argue that the evidence presented by the prosecution is insufficient to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This could involve challenging the accuracy or reliability of electronic communications, disputing the minor’s identity, or questioning the credibility of witnesses.
First Amendment Defenses
In some cases, the defendant may argue that the communication in question is protected under the First Amendment’s free speech provisions. However, this defense is typically limited, as the First Amendment does not protect speech that involves the solicitation of illegal conduct or the exchange of explicit materials involving minors.
These are just a few examples of potential defenses in cases involving Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes. Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine the best strategy for your specific case.
Should I Contact a Lawyer for Help?
If you are facing charges of Communication with a Minor for Immoral Purposes, consult with an experienced Washington criminal lawyer. They can help you understand the charges against you and guide you through the legal process.
A skilled attorney can help you comprehend the nature of the charges against you, the potential consequences, and the legal process involved. They can also explain how the law applies to your specific situation and answer any questions you may have.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will also be well-versed in potential defenses for your case, and they can help you determine the best strategy based on the specific facts and circumstances. They may also be able to challenge the evidence against you or the way it was obtained.
Use LegalMatch to find a qualified attorney who can represent your interests and protect your rights.