What is Considered Online Solicitation in Texas?
solicitation of a minor occurs when a person of adult age begins
having sexually themed chats with a minor (under 17 in Texas) over
the internet; this is also known as “cyberstalking.”
What many adult offenders do not realize is that, in more than a few cases, the person they are talking to is not a minor but an undercover police officer.
During a “sting,” an officer will pose as a child to lay a trap for a suspected sex offender or child predator. They will “lurk” in certain chat rooms to be invited to talk about sex, exchange sexually explicit photos, or plans for a meeting in real life.
Is Online Solicitation Considered a Misdemeanor or a Felony in Texas?
Online solicitation is always a felony. The exact degree of felony will depend on the facts and circumstances of the actual case. According to Texas law, it is considered to be a third-degree felony if the adult speaks to a minor online in a manner that is sexually suggestive.
It’s also a third-degree felony if the adult sends sexually explicitly material for the minor to view. Texas law also requires the defendant to have the intention of desiring to arouse the sexual desire of the minor.
If the minor is under 14, the offense increases to a second-degree felony. The charge also increases if the defendant uses the web to solicit an actual meeting with the minor with or even without the intention of engaging in sexual conduct.
What is Considered Sexually Explicit Under Texas Law?
The law will refer to any kind of language or material, such as photos or videos, that describes or solicits sexual conduct. The law is more severe in this case because it relates to an adult purposely soliciting sex with a minor.
Even if the person on the other is a police officer, the sender still believes they are talking to a minor. They can, therefore, be arrested for this offense regardless of how old the person they think is a minor is.
What is the Punishment for This Crime?
If convicted of a third-degree felony, the defendant may be sentenced to 2 to 10 years in a Texas state prison. There may also be a fine of up to $10,000.
If convicted of a second-degree felony, the defendant may face 2 to 20 years in a Texas prison. There may also be a fine of up to $10,000.
Is it a Mitigating Circumstance if the Meeting Never Occurred?
No actual meeting has to take place for a felony to occur. The only possible mitigating circumstances are if the offender was married to the minor at the time of the offense or if the minor is less than three years younger and the communication was consensual.
The defendant may also wish to plead entrapment, but Texas law is set up to make this very hard to prove.