Online Solicitation of a Minor
Tampa Sex Crimes Defense Attorney
The computer and internet may seem to offer an anonymous platform from which to solicit sex but as multiple arrests and prosecutions have demonstrated there is no protection from the law. The crime of online solicitation of a minor occurs when an individual over the age of 18 uses the internet to solicit or lure a minor, someone under 18, to commit a sexual act. The definition of "solicit" is to "ask for or try to obtain something from someone." In this case that "something" is a sexual act and the "someone" is a minor or quite importantly someone that the individual believes is a minor. It is not required that an actual meeting, physical contact or a sexual act took place but merely the solicitation is adequate for charges of a sex crime.
Often the charges of online solicitation are brought after an individual has unknowingly solicited an undercover agent posing as a minor. While this has been held up in courts and the legislature as valid and not a deceptive practice or entrapment it still can be challenged and is often founded on shaky or suspect facts or evidence. A review of the facts of the case by a Tampa sex crimes defense lawyer is well advised. Our team at The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger is highly familiar with crimes of this nature and can readily deliver an assessment of the case, as well as an evaluation of where we feel your strongest defense will lie.
Potential Consequences of a Conviction
There are many areas of grey in this particular type of crime. Often the charges can be based upon a series of internet conversations that were not necessarily meant to be what was understood and later brought as accusations. But the consequences are not light. Even when no meeting occurred and nothing of a physical nature took place this crime is still dealt with as a third-degree felony. To compound and aggravate matters the courts can decide to treat each and every instance of solicitation as a separate count - which means upwards of a five year sentence for each solicitation made.
If an individual arranged for an actual physical meeting and travelled to make that contact then the crime becomes a second-degree felony. The law states that if someone travels a distance for the intent of a sexual encounter with a minor that they can be sentenced for up to 15 years in prison.
These are serious crimes and are dealt with very harshly. Contact a Tampa online solicitation of a minor defense lawyer for a consultation and evaluation of your case as soon as you possibly can.