Internet Sex Crimes
In the internet age, more and more people around the world can be connected through their computers, tablets, or smartphones. With the rise in connectivity, many people are using the internet to explore their sexual desires. However, the police and governmental agencies also have a significant online presence, investigating and bringing charges for criminal offenses that include the use of the internet.
The internet involves interstate activity, which means that most internet crimes fall under federal jurisdiction. Therefore, internet sex crimes and child pornography charges are often charged as federal crimes in federal court, with defendants facing federal prison sentences.
Federal Child Pornography Charges
While it is a crime to possess child pornography, if the material is transferred across the internet, it becomes a federal crime. Most federal child pornography cases involve people charged with possessing images on their computer, downloaded from the internet, often with P2P (peer to peer) file sharing programs such as Gnutella, Limewire, and Kazaa. Other charges include receipt, transportation, distribution, production or advertising of child pornography.
Online Solicitation of a Minor or Contacting a Minor for a Sexual Purpose
It is a crime to communicate with a child over the Internet for the purpose of committing a sexual offense. Soliciting sex is against the law in California. However, when solicitation involves a minor, the law is much more strict. Using the internet to persuade, induce, entice or coerce someone for sexual activity can result in years in prison. The intended victim does not have to be an actual minor, as long as the defendant believed they were communicating with a minor, even if the intended victim later turns out to be an undercover police officer.
It is also against the law to offer online to make a child available to another person for lewd or lascivious acts, where the child is under the age of 16. With the availability of the internet, this would likely occur online. Child procurement can be combined with other charges, depending on the case.
Arranging a Meeting with a Minor for a Lewd Purpose
It is also a crime to arrange for a meeting with a minor for a sexual purpose, or to attempt to arrange this type of meeting. Even if the person doesn't intend to follow through, this may be still be prosecuted as a serious sex offense.
Showing Sexual Material to Minors
Even if no child pornography is involved, sharing, sending or showing sexual materials to a minor is a crime. This even includes if the defendant only offered to show harmful material to a minor via the internet or e-mail. A person may even be charged if they failed to use reasonable care to determine the age of the person they were sending the material.
Harmful material includes material that shows or describes sexual conduct, and can be a photograph, drawing, video, or even written material. Even if the material is not sent to arouse the minor or the sender, it could be a crime if it was intended to harass or threaten a minor.
Penalties for internet sex crimes are severe, and will depend on the circumstances surrounding the crime and where the crime is prosecuted in state or federal court. Penalties include years in prison, and heavy fines. In addition, a person could face civil charges with significant money damages.
Sex Offender Registration
In addition to the penalties noted above, the defendant may be forced to register as a sex offender. If you are required to register as a sex offender, you will be required to register with the police, or your college or university for the rest of your life. If you move, you will again be required to register as a sex offender.
Defenses to Internet Sex Crimes
Internet crime laws in California and at the federal level are complex, and possible defenses depend on the specific facts of the case. You need a qualified legal team who specializes in defense of sex crimes to look into the facts of each case to determine how best to form their legal strategy. This could include arguing that the alleged harmful material was for an educational or scientific purpose, or that someone else was responsible for the online contact and internet usage.
Contact the offices of White Goldstein to speak with an attorney who specializes in defending people accused of internet sex crimes, including child pornography charges. We will provide you or your loved one with superior legal representation. We are dedicated to giving our clients the highest level of service. We will thoroughly investigate the charges you or your loved one face and will tirelessly work to have them dismissed.
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Call White Goldstein today at (310) 295-1810 for a free, confidential consultation.