Online Solicitation of a Minor
Online Solicitation of a Minor is a felony offense in Texas codified under Penal Code 33.021. It makes it a criminal offense to have a conversation online to solicit a minor with the intent to have sexual contact. A minor is someone who is younger than 17 or whom the actor believes in younger than 17. It is common in online solicitation cases for the person on the other end of the conversation to be police detectives. These individuals are not under the age of 17, but they give the person reasons believe they are under 17. For example, it is common to see detectives use websites, chatrooms, social media applications, and even Craigslist to snare individuals who engage in these conversations.
The statute explicitly removes a defense that the meeting with a minor or purported minor did not occur. Instead, the statute criminalizes the conversation.
If you are facing charges for online solicitation of a minor, it is important for you to understand that Penal Code Section 33.021(b) has been ruled to be unconstitutional. That portion of the Online Solicitation of a Minor statute in Texas can no longer be used to prosecute an individual.
The other sections of this statute are still valid.
What is Online Solicitation of a Minor in Texas?
Online solicitation of a minor is essentially using the internet to set up a meeting with a minor with the intent that the minor will engage in sexual conduct. Online solicitation of a minor is generally a third degree felony with a punishment range of 2-10 years in prison. However online solicitation of a minor under the age of 14 is a second degree felony and the punishment range is then 2-20 years in prison.
Online Solicitation of a Minor in Texas Defenses
It is not a defense that:
1. the meeting did not occur;
2. the accused did not mean for a meeting to occur;
3. the actor was only fantasizing about the meeting occurring.
It is a legal defense if the accused was married to the minor, or if the accused was not more than three years older than the minor and the minor consented to the conduct.
Collateral Consequences of Online Solicitation of a Minor in Texas
Any plea to or conviction for the alleged offense requires the defendant to register as a sex offender. This includes a plea that results in deferred adjudication.
Specifically, the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure requires anyone with a “reportable conviction or adjudication,” to register as a sex offender. A reportable conviction or adjudication” means a conviction or adjudication, including an adjudication of delinquent conduct or a deferred adjudication, that, regardless of the pendency of an appeal, is a conviction for or an adjudication for or based on: … (J) a violation of Section 33.021 (Online solicitation of a minor), Penal Code.
Call us at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session. Our team of former prosecutors and Board Certified Criminal Lawyers are here to help. During this call we will:
- Discuss the facts of your case;
- Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
- Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.
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Penal Code Section 33.021
(a) In this section:
(1) “Minor” means
(A) an individual who represents himself or herself to be younger than 17 years of age; or
(B) an individual whom the actor believes to be younger than 17 years of age.
(2) “Sexual contact,” “sexual intercourse,” and “deviate sexual intercourse” have the meanings assigned by Section 21.01.
(3) “Sexually explicit” means any communication, language, or material, including a photographic or video image, that relates to or describes sexual conduct, as defined by Section 43.25.
(c) A person commits an offense if the person, over the Internet, by electronic mail or text message or other electronic message service or system, or through a commercial online service, knowingly solicits a minor to meet another person, including the actor, with the intent that the minor will engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with the actor or another person.
(d) It is not a defense to prosecution under Subsection (c) that:
(1) the meeting did not occur;
(2) the actor did not intend for the meeting to occur; or
(3) the actor was engaged in a fantasy at the time of commission of the offense.
(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that at the time conduct described by Subsection (b) or (c) was committed:
(1) the actor was married to the minor; or
(2) the actor was not more than three years older than the minor and the minor consented to the conduct.
(f) An offense under Subsection (b) is a felony of the third degree, except that the offense is a felony of the second degree if the minor is younger than 14 years of age or is an individual whom the actor believes to be younger than 14 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense. An offense under Subsection (c) is a felony of the second degree.
(g) If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.
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