The internet has made almost everything in our lives easier. In fact, the pandemic has made us realize that – in a pinch – the internet can even stand in for our offices and school buildings. Whatever you need, you can get it online, but there is also a flip side to this equation. The internet is a virtual playground for sexual offenders on the prowl, but it can also serve as a trap that ensnares people in internet sex crimes that they had no idea they were committing.
Better understanding the five types of internet sex crimes in Texas can help – and so can working closely with an experienced Florence criminal defense attorney. (3 Important Considerations When Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney)
One: Child Pornography
No one has to tell you that child pornography is illegal, but it is not quite that simple. In the State of Texas, child pornography relates to anyone who knowingly creates or even possesses pornographic material in which the subject is under the age of 18. This includes both still photos and videos, and the law extends to anyone who is alleged to have actively searched for pornography depicting underage subjects. A picture of your daughter in her catholic school uniform, however, will not suffice – regardless of the fact that this is a common trope of pornography.
The penalties for child pornography convictions are exceptionally harsh, and this is not to mention the social stigma attached, which can haunt you into your future. Ultimately, if convicted, you will likely be on the Texas sex offender registry for life.
Being stalked by someone else can be terrifying, and the State of Texas takes the matter very seriously – including cyberstalking. We do everything else online, and stalkers have taken it upon themselves to also take their stalking to the web. Cyberstalking refers to harassing one’s target electronically with a malicious pattern of behavior. Examples include unsolicited lewd messages and sexually explicit photos and/or videos.
Some cyberstalkers work under cover of anonymity, which the internet makes very easy to do, while others make their identity known. Stalkers have a tendency to escalate their behaviors, and cyberstalking is no less terrifying for its targets than real-world stalking is (and the two are not mutually exclusive).
While consenting adults generally have the right to engage in whatever sexual activities they choose to, including sending sexually explicit pictures and/or videos electronically, this does not extend to children under the age of 18 (regardless of whether they believe they have consented or not). Even sexting between minors (with no adult point of connection) is a crime. There are some exceptions that include instances in which you receive unsolicited sexually charged material and those instances when teens are dating and choose to share intimate pictures of themselves with one another.
The bottom line, however, is that there is a lot of legal grey area within the category of sexting – as there is with other internet sex crimes – which can leave you facing a charge based on sexting before you recognize what is happening.
Four: Online Solicitation
The days in which soliciting was conducted mostly on the streets are gone. Solicitation is a huge online enterprise, and it is a major crime in the State of Texas. Online solicitation refers to anyone who attempts to drum up sexual activity in exchange for payment via the internet. Rest assured that the authorities engage in widespread sting operations that are intended to entrap those who engage in online solicitation, but that can also ensnare innocent bystanders along the way. When the online solicitation involves a minor, the legal ramifications become that much more serious.
Five: Sex Trafficking
Sex trafficking is a massive online business, and it is often referred to as human slavery for modern times. Sex trafficking is a violation of human rights that can haunt its victims far into their futures. The trafficking is often conducted online – when the person or people in charge connect with potential clients (who are engaging in online solicitation). Sex trafficking typically involves vulnerable people who are used for sexual purposes and who can see no way out – or who are actually held against their will and have no physical way out.
Examples of techniques that sex traffickers use to bind their workers – other than physically holding them against their will – include threatening victims with deportation or public humiliation and/or withholding drugs that victims have become dependent upon. All told, sex trafficking is a vile institution, and attendant penalties are harsh.
Texas takes internet sex crimes very seriously, and the associated penalties reflect this fact. Conviction on a serious offense can lead to decades in prison and to a lifetime on the sex offender registry. Even a minor offense, however, can come with steep fines, jail time, and ongoing social consequences. Society at large takes a hard line when it comes to sexual offenses, and even facing a sexually related charge can have harsh social consequences. A conviction can permanently alter your ability to do all of the following:
Rent a home or apartment
Obtain a loan to purchase a home or apartment
Find and keep a job
Maintain the social standing you have come to enjoy in your community
Gain acceptance into a college, procure a student loan, and/or live on campus
Maintain your professional licensure
If you are facing an internet sex crime charge, the first order of business is consulting with a dedicated criminal defense attorney with extensive experience successfully guiding cases like yours toward optimal outcomes.
Do Not Wait to Consult with an Experienced Florence Criminal Defense Attorney
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Florence, Texas, is a formidable criminal defense attorney who takes great pride in helping clients like you prevail with favorable case resolutions. Our impressive legal team is on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today for more information about how we can help you.