The internet is the gateway to almost everything in our lives. Unfortunately, it is also a place where people can find themselves in legal trouble in just a few clicks.
Online laws are intended to protect us from harm. The laws pertaining to minors and children are especially strict to insure they are protected from predators or exposure to inappropriate content. While we all agree that protecting minors from harm should be a priority, the law can sometimes ensnare innocent people who are unaware they are doing wrong.
Online solicitation of a minor is a heavy charge leveled at those who attempt to persuade someone under the age of 16 to engage in sexual activity through the internet. The legal terms and definitions can be confusing and innocent people can wind up on the wrong side of the law without knowing it.
What should you do if you or a loved one is facing charges for illegal online activity? To prove your innocence and protect your rights, you need an online solicitation lawyer. Read on to learn more about online solicitation laws.
What is OnlineSolicitationof a Minor?
Many people assume they understand what is and what isn’t illegal on the internet or social media. However, the growing number of arrests for online crimes is proof that people, especially young people, are uninformed about online law. Of particular concern is the growing number of teens and young adults in legal trouble for their online activity. Online solicitation of a minor is one area where confusion still exists.
Online solicitation of a minor often has a broad definition but the legal concept is fairly straightforward. The basic idea is any action taken to elicit a sexual response with someone you believed to be a minor.
Smartphones, social media apps, and the internet has made connecting with others easier than ever. However, just because something is easy to use doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe or secure. In today’s highly connected world, it’s all too easy to mistake someone or to say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time.
The best way to avoid making mistakes online is to understand the law and how it applies to online behavior. Knowing the definitions and keys to what you are facing is a powerful start.
1. Actions of Online Solicitation
There are a wide array of actions that can constitute online solicitation of a minor. To get an idea, it’s simpler to break them down into specific actions that fall under the legal definition of online solicitation of a minor.
First, exposing one’s own or another's genitals to a minor can be considered online solicitation. Asking for a minor to expose their genitals or touch you in a sexual manner can also fall under this definition.
Any discussion or requests in doing any sexual acts of any shape or form, including intercourse, is an act of online solicitation.
Enticing a minor to enter your home or vehicle can elevate online solicitation to even more severe charges suchas sexual assault.
2. Official Definition of a Minor
The law is serious about protecting minors. It’s important to understand how the law defines “minor” and the exact wordings and usage.
A minor is a legal qualification that means a person or individual who is under the legal age of 18. The law is strict, so even those who are close to 18 are still a minor.
Proving one’s age can be difficult without valid ID or certified documentation. Documents can also be faked and this is especially true online. While it’s understandably difficult to prove the age of someone online, reasonable doubt is often a justification for the crime. If there is any doubt in your mind that the person may be a minor, take extreme caution when interacting and avoid any communication that could be interpreted as inappropriate. When it comes to online communication, you can never be too careful.
3. The Alarming Growth of Undercover Sting Operations
In recent years, law enforcement has ramped up it’s efforts to catch people attempting to solicit minors online. Online sting operations are relatively inexpensive to conduct and pose fewer risks to officers compared to traditional patrols or criminal enforcement. So, it’s no surprise that a growing number of local law enforcement agencies across the country are conducting more and more online sting operations to catch potential predators. These onlinesting operations. work to locate individuals intending to engage in sexual conduct with minors.
The methods used by law enforcement are wide ranging. They can easily border on entrapment or infringe on one’s constitutional rights. However, proving a sting operation crossed the line can be difficult for the accused. Hiring a skilled criminal justice attorney with experience in online solicitation is likely your best chance of proving police misconduct.
Online sting operations can range from a sophisticated multi-departmental operation to a single officer working a local jurisdiction. These operations often involve a police officer or other official posing as a minor online. It’s legal for the police to use fake names, photos, or other methods in the course of their duties. They have no obligation to reveal their real identity or communicate with honesty. Even when asked directly, an undercover officer can deny they are affiliated with the police.
Oftentimes an undercover officer will engage the subject however long it takes to gather evidence for a case. Once law enforcement determines there has been enough evidence gathered to convict, the police can move to make the arrest.
Sting operations can cast a wide net in an attempt to catch potential predators. Depending on the type of operation and the tactics used, law enforcement can sometimes arrest people who may not be in the wrong.
What Can an Online Solicitation Lawyer Do?
Online solicitation charges are serious and the consequences can be devastating. Texas has some of the highest conviction rates in the nation while also maintaining some of the most overburdened courts. It’s a recipe for disaster if a defendant is unprepared or without skilled legal representation. No matter how you got into the situation, you need a good lawyer to help you get out.
Taking the wrong steps can lead you to life-altering consequences beyond jail time and significant fines. If convicted, individuals will typically have to register as sex offenders. This alone can destroy reputations and careers.
What can your lawyer do to protect you? Here are 4 common ways they can turn the case in your favor.
1. Ensuring Your Rights Are Protected
With every criminal charge, there are rights that you always have as an American citizen. Understanding these rights can help even more so here as these are charges of information.
The right to remain silent is often forgotten when one is facing an arrest. This is especially true when an innocent person is wrongly accused, It’s understandable an innocent person will want to explain their side of the story. They hope that an explanation will help their cause. Unfortunately, this can often make things worse.
Beyond the right to remain silent, a criminal justice attorney can make sure all of your rights are protected and that the police didn’t infringe upon your rights during the course of their operation and arrest. There are rules that police must follow and usually it takes a savvy, experienced criminal justice attorney to uncover any missteps. Carefully reviewing the case and police records takes time and legal expertise but could make all the difference.
2. Gathering the Right Evidence
Evidence is crucial in all cases but especially in these types of cases. Text messages, emails, social media chats, images, and other digital information could be used for or against you in a case. An experienced lawyer will know how to navigate these tricky waters and handle this information with care.
Many people mistakenly believe that they can simply delete old messages, pictures, or other data from their phones, laptops, or social media accounts. It’s common for people facing online solicitation charges to panic and try to delete or erase what they think may be used against them. Unfortunately, almost all of your history and data can be recovered by law enforcement with relative ease.
Don’t make any moves with your data or online information without consulting an online solicitation attorney. Few people have the time and expertise to dissect an online solicitation charge. An online solicitation attorney will know what to look for and how to best position that information for your benefit.
A lawyer can also see potential areas of attack the prosecution may get from the evidence as well. A poor choice of words taken out of context can be damning, so an experienced online solicitation lawyer can provide the proper framing.
3. Avoid Representing Yourself
It’s bad enough to be facing charges of online solicitation of a minor. The punishment is severe and can destroy your future. Don’t make it worse by going it alone. Representing yourself in court is oftena dangerous move. It’s especially risky when facing online solicitation charges or anything to do with minors.
No matter how much the truth is on your side, a court case is a matter of presentation, expertise, and experience. Our prisons are teeming with people who thought they could beat the system. Having a capable online solicitation lawyer by your side is your best chance at understanding your options, building a solid defense strategy, and crafting a presentation for the court.
Beyond the facts of the case, an experienced online solicitation lawyer can provide the court with a context of who you are as a person beyond this case. If your lawyer deems it beneficial, they may incorporate your family connections, work history, and other character traits in your defense. Having an experienced lawyer speak on your behalf is critical.
4. Breaking Down Complex Legal Situations
When you’re the victim of a sting operation or similar circumstance, there are a lot of legal loopholes that bind you in court in the first place. Entrapment is a word thrown around a lot in these cases and a good lawyer will know how to use it.
The more your involvement inthe crime is uncertain, the harder it can be to cut ties without risking pulling yourself in further. This is a very tricky line to walk but a skilled online solicitation lawyer should know the best course of action for your case.
The Right Legal Defense in Your Hour of Need
Getting an online solicitation lawyer as soon as even the hint of charges come against you can save you a lot of frustration and damage. Even the charges of a sexual act with a minor can bring high levels of stress, anxiety, and strain on individuals and their families.
To get the best, you need to hire the best. The law firm of Andrea M. Kolski has successfully defended the accused for over 20 years. Andrea is highly respected by her peers and is a National Top 100 criminal justice lawyer. Her record of success is second to none. Andrea is committed to fighting for every clients rights and aggressively pursuing the best possible outcome regardless of the charges. To learn more about what we can do for you,contact us today!
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