Many conversations online are conducted anonymously with little fear of consequences, but such conversations can take on uniquely dangerous elements when they involve online conversations with minors and the topic is of a sexual nature. It is not uncommon for law enforcement agencies all over Tarrant County to set up sting operations specifically designed to capture people who are attempting to meet minors for sexual purposes.

An online solicitation of a minor offense occurs when a person engages in sexual conduct with a minor through electronic communication, but many people who are accused of this crime immediately argue that they did not have any criminal intent. Many words can be taken out of context, and the result can be felony charges that carry very steep penalties.

Online Solicitation of a Minor Main

Online Solicitation of a Minor Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX

Were you or your loved one recently arrested for an alleged online solicitation of a minor offense in the Fort Worth area? You do not want to try and explain yourself to the police without legal counsel, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

Our firm can discuss your rights as soon as you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to set up a consultation.

Online Solicitation of a Minor Offenses in Texas‍

A person commits online solicitation of a minor under Texas Penal Code § 33.021 if they:

  • Being 17 years of age or older, with the intent to commit continuous sexual abuse of young child or children, compel prostitution, or traffick of persons, over the Internet, by electronic mail or text message or other electronic message service or system, or through a commercial online service, intentionally communicate in a sexually explicit manner with a minor or distribute sexually explicit material to a minor; or
  • Over the Internet, by electronic mail or text message or other electronic message service or system, or through a commercial online service, knowingly solicit a minor to meet another person, including the alleged offender, with the intent that the minor will engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with the alleged offender or another person.
 

A minor is defined under Texas Penal Code § 33.021(a)(1) as an individual who is younger than 17 years of age or an individual whom the alleged offender believes to be younger than 17 years of age. Texas Penal Code § 33.021(a)(3) defines sexually explicit as any communication, language, or material, including a photographic or video image, that relates to or describes sexual conduct.

Texas Penal Code § 43.25(a)(2) defines sexual conduct as sexual contact, actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, sadomasochistic abuse, or lewd exhibition of the genitals, the anus, or any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola.

Tarrant County Online Solicitation of a Minor Penalties

When an alleged offender 17 years of age or older intentionally communicates in a sexually explicit manner with a minor or distributes sexually explicit material to a minor over the Internet, by electronic mail or text message or other electronic message service or system, or through a commercial online service with the intent to commit continuous sexual abuse of young child or children, compelling prostitution, or trafficking of persons, online solicitation of a minor is a third-degree felony. Convictions are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

When the minor is younger than 14 years of age or is an individual whom the alleged offender believes to be younger than 14 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense, online solicitation of a minor becomes a second-degree felony. Convictions are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

When an alleged offender knowingly solicits a minor to meet another person, including the alleged offender, by electronic mail or text message or other electronic message service or system, or through a commercial online service, with the intent that the minor will engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with the alleged offender or another person, online solicitation of a minor is also a second-degree felony. A meeting not occurring cannot be used as a defense against online solicitation of a minor charge under Texas Penal Code § 33.021(d).

Online Solicitation of a Minor Defenses in Fort Worth‍

It is a defense to prosecution under Texas Penal Code § 33.021(e)(1) that at the time the conduct was committed, the alleged offender was married to the minor. It is also a defense under Texas Penal Code § 33.021(e)(2) that the alleged offender was not more than three years older than the minor and the minor consented to the conduct.

Many cases can hinge on the actual text involved in an online conversation. An attorney can help prove that comments were not reflective of a desire to commit sexual abuse against a minor.

Fort Worth Online Solicitation of a Minor Resources

Ex Parte Lo | 424 S.W.3d 10 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013) — After sending sexually explicit text messages to a 15-year-old boy, John Christopher Lo was charged with the third-degree felony of communicating in a sexually explicit manner with a person whom he believed to be a minor with an intent to arouse or gratify his sexual desire. A pretrial application for a writ of habeas corpus claimed that the specific subsection of the felony offense of online solicitation of a minor was facially unconstitutional because it violated the Dormant Commerce Clause, it was over broad and criminalized a wide range of speech protected by the First Amendment, and it was vague because the term “sexually explicit” communications that “relate to” sexual conduct chilled the exercise of free-speech by causing citizens to steer wide of the uncertain boundaries between permitted and prohibited speech. The trial judge denied relief and the court of appeals affirmed, but the Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously struck down the sexually explicit communications portion of the Online Solicitation of a Minor statute after concluding that “Section 33.021(b) of the Texas Penal Code is over broad because it prohibits a wide array of constitutionally protected speech and is not narrowly drawn to achieve only the legitimate objective of protecting children from sexual abuse.” The statute was later amended through Senate Bill 344 in 2015 so “intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person” was changed to “intent to commit an offense listed in Article 62.001(5)(A), (B), or (K), Code of Criminal Procedure.”

Criminal Investigations | Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) — The Criminal Investigation Department of DPS plays a major role in several sting operations throughout Texas. Police departments, sheriff’s offices, and district attorney’s offices are among the law enforcement agencies helped by this department. The Administration Section, Organized Crime Section, Special Investigations Section (SIS), and Investigative Support Section are the four specialized sections of the Criminal Investigation Department.

Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for Online Solicitation of a Minor | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

If you or your loved one were arrested for alleged online solicitation of a minor in Fort Worth or another nearby community in Tarrant County, be sure that you exercise your right to remain silent. Do not wait to contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.

Our firm will fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.