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Sex Crimes

Sex Crimes

Online Solicitation of a Minor

Law enforcement agencies throughout Texas frequently use undercover sting operations to catch alleged offenders accused of online solicitation of a minor. In many of these cases, an undercover police officer poses as a minor and the investigating agencies use electronic communications to gather evidence to be used against the alleged offender.

When a person is accused of this crime, prosecutors will often feel empowered to seek maximum sentences. It is critical for alleged offenders in such cases to understand that certain common defenses to these accusations are expressly prohibited under state law.

Attorney for Online Solicitation of a Minor in Georgetown, TX

Were you recently arrested in Central Texas for alleged online solicitation of a minor? You should refuse to make any kind of statement to authorities until you have legal representation. Contact Law Office of Michael J. Price P.C. today.

Georgetown criminal defense lawyer Michael J. Price aggressively defends individuals accused of sex crimes all over Williamson County and Bell County, including Temple, Killeen, Leander, Round Rock, Taylor, and several other nearby areas. He can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (512) 354-1880 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


Overview of Online Solicitation of a Minor Arrests in Texas


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Online Solicitation of a Minor Charges in Williamson County

Under Texas Penal Code § 33.021, an alleged offender commits online solicitation of a minor if that person does either of the following:

  • Being 17 years of age or older, with the intent to commit continuous sexual abuse of young child or children, compelling prostitution, or trafficking 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 communicates in a sexually explicit manner with a minor or distributes 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 solicits 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.

For the purposes of this statute, a minor is defined as being 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. Sexually explicit is defined as any communication, language, or material, including a photographic or video image, that relates to or describes sexual conduct, which means sexual contact, actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, sado-masochistic abuse, or lewd exhibition of the genitals, the anus, or any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola.


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Online Solicitation of a Minor Penalties in Georgetown

If 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, the crime is classified as a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. If 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, the crime is classified as a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

If the 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, the offense is a second-degree felony. Texas Penal Code § 33.021(d) establishes that such meeting not occurring cannot be used as a defense against these charges.

Texas Penal Code § 33(e), however, states that it can be a defense to prosecution that at the time the conduct was committed:

  • the alleged offender was married to the minor; or
  • the alleged offender was not more than three years older than the minor and the minor consented to the conduct.

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Texas Resources for Online Solicitation of a Minor Offenses

Criminal Investigations | Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) — The Criminal Investigation Department of DPS is frequently involved with sting operations for online solicitation of minors. DPS will assist numerous local law enforcement agencies, such as sheriff's offices, district attorney's offices, and police departments. On this website, you can learn more about the five specialized sections of the Criminal Investigation Department.

Ex Parte Lo | 424 S.W.3d 10 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013) — 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 after sending sexually explicit text messages to a 15-year-old boy. He filed a pretrial application for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that this specific subsection of the felony offense of online solicitation of a minor is facially unconstitutional for three distinct reasons:

  • it is overbroad and criminalizes a wide range of speech protected by the First Amendment;
  • it is vague because the term "sexually explicit" communications that "relate to" sexual conduct chills the exercise of free-speech by causing citizens to steer wide of the uncertain boundaries between permitted and prohibited speech; and
  • it violates the Dormant Commerce Clause.

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. The Court concluded that “Section 33.021(b) of the Texas Penal Code is overbroad 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.” Senate Bill 344 in 2015 amended the statute to change “intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person” to “intent to commit an offense listed in Article 62.001(5)(A), (B), or (K), Code of Criminal Procedure.”


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Law Office of Michael J. Price P.C. | Georgetown Online Solicitation of a Minor Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with alleged online solicitation of a minor in Central Texas, it will be in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Law Office of Michael J. Price P.C. can fight to help you achieve the most favorable possible outcome to your case that results in the fewest possible penalties.

Michael J. Price is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Georgetown who represents clients in Hutto, Benton, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Harker Heights, and surrounding communities in Williamson County and Bell County. Call (512) 354-1880 or complete an online contact form to have our lawyer review your case and help you understand your legal options during a free initial consultation.


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