San Antonio Internet Sex Crimes Defense Attorney
Internet Sex Crimes Lawyer
When the Internet appeared in every home and business in Texas, it changed the way we learn, entertain ourselves, and communicate. More recently, it kept thousands of people across the state employed when the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to transition their operations online.
Like all critical tools, the Internet has also been misused, especially by individuals seeking to connect with the growing number of young people online. According to a study by Purdue University, arrests for Internet-based sex crimes against children went up by 21% between 2000 and 2006. In the same period, there was a 381% increase in arrests of adults who solicited undercover investigators posing as children.
While protecting children from sexual exploitation and sexual offenses should always be a priority, Internet stings have impacted the lives of people who didn’t intend harm or, even worse, were victims of mistaken identity. You could face criminal charges for a sex crime even if you only forward a suggestive image on Facebook or some other social media site.
Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC represents a wide range of clients charged with technology-related sex crimes. We have extensive experience representing individuals in federal court and understand the unique evidentiary issues presented by new technologies. Furthermore, we recognize the sensitive nature of these charges and their potential impact on your personal and professional lives. If you are under investigation or have been arrested for an Internet sex crime, call a criminal defense lawyer at our firm today.
Internet Sex Crimes – an Overview
As we stated above, law enforcement has increased its efforts to catch people who are engaged in illegal activity online, with a special emphasis on crimes involving sexual activity with children. For example:
- Even if you accidentally visited a child pornography site by following a shared link or unintentionally viewed a sexually explicit image online, you could be charged with possession of child pornography.
- If you take steps to meet someone who claims to be a minor in an instant-message conversation chat room or social media outlet, you could be charged with solicitation of a minor.
We work vigorously to protect the rights of those accused of Internet sex crime charges, including those related to the following types of crimes.
Possession of Child Pornography
Under Texas law, viewing or possessing child pornography is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If you have previously been convicted of a felony, it may be enhanced to a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Subsequent convictions may further enhance penalties to a first degree felony up to 99 years in prison.
Distribution of Child Pornography
Transmitting a single image through email, text, or social media can result in a child pornography distribution charge. Like child pornography possession, distributing it is a third degree punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine with enhanced penalties for those who have been previously convicted of a felony.
Online Solicitation of a Minor
In Texas, anyone seventeen years of age and older is prohibited from communicating sexually explicit material to a minor or distributing sexually explicit material via the Internet or other electronic means with the intent to commit a sexual act with a minor. Furthermore, online or electronic solicitation of minors for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with the actor or a third party is also illegal. If convicted of this third-degree felony, you could spend up to 10 years in prison. If the minor was under the age of 14 (or you believed that they were), the charge escalates to a second-degree felony.
The general definition of child molestation is indecency, sexual abuse, or sexual contact with anyone under the age of 17. Indecency involving children includes exposing a victim’s private parts or one’s own for the sexual gratification of any person. There doesn’t have to be physical contact for the accused to be found guilty. Depending on the circumstances (e.g. the child was under 14 or aggravated sexual assault was involved), alleged offenders could face life in prison.
Teenagers involved in romantic relationships often “sext”, i.e. transmit and recieve sexually suggestive or explicit images. In Texas, an adult who sexts a minor can be charged with possession or promotion of child pornography, or with promoting sexual performance by a minor. Thus, statutory rape defendants are often charged with possession of child pornography because they have previously sexted on their phones.
If you are convicted of an Internet sex crime, the State will add your name to the sex offender registry, which may have severe consequences in your personal and professional life. You will also face possible jail time and harsh fines. Let an experienced lawyer help you challenge these devastating charges and fight for the best outcome.
Are There Valid Defenses to Internet Sex Crime Charges?
Yes, there are. Your Internet sex crime lawyer will identify and pursue the strongest defense for your case. Depending on your circumstances, defense options include:
- The minor is your spouse and was married to you at the time of the alleged offense
- You are no more than three years older than the minor (for example, you are 19 and they are 16) and they consented to the online sexual activity
- Someone used your computer and/or identity without your knowledge
Also, adults may engage in online activity with others who are assumed to be consenting adults. Unfortunately, users can easily misrepresent their age or other information. Your Internet sex crime lawyer can assist you in arguing that you did not intend to commit a crime.
I’m 17 and Sext With My 16-Year-Old Girlfriend. Is This Illegal?
Not necessarily. Although sexting explicit photos and content between a minor and adult can lead to criminal charges, there is an exception under the following conditions;
- Images were sent solely to the sender or recipient;
- Images were sent within the context of a dating relationship;
- Both parties are under the age of 18; and
- Both parties are not more than two years apart in age.
An experienced attorney at our firm will present your side of the story to law enforcement and fight to get the charges dropped.
Will an Internet Sex Crime Charge Stay on My Record if I’m Not Convicted?
Internet sex crimes charges, particularly those involving sexual assault against children, carry a huge amount of social stigma. For those who are wrongly accused of child molestation or another sex crime involving a child, the stigma can last for years.
Talk to your criminal defense attorney about expunging or sealing your criminal record if you were found not guilty of committing a sex crime or if your case was dismissed. Your arrest record may be erased or rendered inaccessible to the public. If someone runs a background check on you for a job or housing, they won’t see the expunged arrest.
A San Antonio Sex Crime Defense Attorney is Here to Help
If you have been charged with a sex offense in San Antonio, Texas, get an experienced sex crime lawyer on your side right away. The legal team at Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC offers strategic, nonjudgmental representation. If we accept your case, our only goal will be to minimize, dismiss, or defeat the potential charges that you face during this difficult time.
Our first step will be to carefully examine your case to determine if the evidence was lawfully acquired, whether the witnesses or victim’s accounts are credible, and how your arrest and interrogation were handled. At every stage of the legal process, our goal will be to eliminate or minimize the impact of the charges against you. To get started on your defense strategy today, schedule a free initial consultation by calling (201) 202-1076 or using our online contact form