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Texas Law & Internet Crimes

Texas has a number of laws related to internet crimes. These laws span a wide range of legal areas and have established serious penalties related to the crimes. The following are all considered illegal under Texas law:

  • Knowingly accessing a computer, computer system, or computer network without having received the appropriate consent;
  • Knowingly soliciting a minor under the age of 17 over the internet, text message, or through other electronic means to meet in person for the purpose of engaging in sexual behavior;
  • Knowingly accessing a computer system, network, program, or machine that is part of a voting system that effectively tampers with the votes or impedes the voting process;
  • Creating a web page or posting messages on a social networking site using another’s persona without that person’s consent and with the intent to defraud, harm, threaten, or intimidate another individual; or
  • Referencing the name, domain address, phone number, or any other identifying information of a person without that person’s consent, aiming to cause the recipient to believe that the message is coming from the other person, with the intent to harm or defraud.

Possible Defenses to Internet Crimes in Texas

If you have been charged with an internet crime, you may be able to provide a defense that will work in your favor. However, keep in mind that these defenses are not available or appropriate in all situations. Possible defenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Lack of knowledge;
  • Age (meaning the person solicited for a sexual act was not under 17); and
  • Consent.

What are the Possible Penalties After Arrested for an Internet Crime in Texas?

The penalties associated with any internet crime depend on a variety of factors. These factors include the severity of the offense and whether the defendant has been previously convicted of a similar offense.

Generally, however, the following are the likely penalties an individual will incur for violating the given offense:

  • Breach of computer security: This offense can range from a Class B misdemeanor to a First Degree felony. A Class B misdemeanor may lead to up to 180 days in jail and as much as $2,000 in fines. A First Degree felony is punishable through imprisonment of 5 to 99 years and a fine of $10,000.
  • Soliciting a minor: This crime is typically charged as a Third Degree felony. This is usually punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. The penalty changes if the minor involved is under 14 years old. In that case, the crime may be charged as a Second Degree felony and is punishable through 2-20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Tampering with a voting machine: This offense is charged as a First Degree felony. This is punishable with a prison sentence of 5-99 years and as much as a $10,000 fine.
  • Internet harassment: This is deemed to be either a Class A misdemeanor or a Third Degree felony. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by no more than one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.

Internet Crimes Against Children in Texas

Internet crimes involving children are especially troublesome. This area of law is still fairly new, but the Texas government has developed methods to investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of and charged with internet crimes against children.

An internet crime unit was established in Texas in 2003 by the Attorney General. The unit was created in order to investigate and arrest child predators who have committed sex crimes against children through the use of technology and the internet.

The unit employs undercover law enforcement officers that impersonate children on various internet chat rooms or other social networking sites. In addition, the unit works to arrest and prosecute individuals who victimize children by creating, sharing, and/or distributing images of child sexual violence and exploitation.

This unit will work with other state and federal agencies in order to be most effective in seeking out any individuals that may have committed crimes like these against children. One way in which these agencies receive information about potential perpetrators is through the use of “cyber tips.” These tips in conjunction with other efforts have led to countless arrests for child pornography or other internet crimes.

The unit is also working towards improving education throughout the state. This is especially true for Texas law enforcement. The education provided is expected to provide law enforcement with better methods related to the arrest and conviction of those that commit internet crime.

A charge involving internet sex crimes against children is treated as a felony and is punishable through imprisonment and heavy fines.

Should You Contact an Attorney?

If you have been charged with an internet crime and need competent and experienced legal representation, contact a local Dallas attorney who will work with you and the facts of your case to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome regarding your legal matters.

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