Solicitation of a Minor
Houston Online Solicitation Defense: Brazoria, Ft. Bend, Galveston, Harris & Montgomery Counties
In Texas, the online solicitation of a minor occurs whenever an individual age 17 or older performs certain acts via the Internet or by text message. The acts must be committed with the intent to obtain sexual gratification and with a person the actor knows or believes to be under 17. These acts include:
- Sexually-explicit communications
- Distributing sexually-suggestive material
- Soliciting a meeting for sexual behavior
These acts can be prosecuted regardless of whether or not a meeting actually took place, or if the defendant alleges he or she was engaged in a fantasy and did not truly intend to act in a deviant manner. The fact that the actor did not know the individual was a minor is not a defense as long as the accused reasonably should have known this to be the case.
Defenses to Prosecution
While there is little tolerance for those who commit online solicitation of a minor, Texas law does recognize instances where there could be viable defenses to this crime. These are spelled out in Section 33.021 (e) of the Texas Penal Code and include:
- The actor and the minor in question were husband and wife
- The accused was not more than three years older than the victim, who must also have consented to the sexually-explicit communications
This crime can be considered either a second or third-degree felony depending upon the circumstances. When the offense is committed against a child who is 14 years of age or younger, it is considered to be a second-degree felony. This is also true if the defendant believed the individual was less than 14 years of age regardless of whether he or she is actually older. Punishments for second-degree felonies in Texas include:
- Prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years
- Fine of up to $10,000
When the victim is age 15 or older, the crime is considered a third-degree felony, with sanctions that can include:
- Confinement of two to 10 years
- Fine of up to $10,000
In any situation, lifetime sex offender registry will be required as well.
Defending Online Solicitation
Attorney Greg Tsioros has defended numerous sex crimes including the online solicitation of a minor. He puts the experience he gained while working with the Harris County district attorney’s office to good use on every case in order to provide each client with the best defense possible. Those who are facing these charges need a competent and aggressive lawyer like Mr. Tsioros and are encouraged to call his office at 832-752-5972 for a free consultation.