Online Solicitation of a Minor in Texas
Both offline and online, solicitation of a minor is a felony in Texas. Conviction of offline and online solicitation of a minor has serious consequences, including jail time, fines, and lifetime inclusion on the Texas Sex Offender Registry.
If you’ve been accused of solicitation of a minor, you need Dallas’ most aggressive sex crime attorney fighting for your rights. This is especially true if you were caught soliciting a minor or as part of a sting operation. Remember: even as you research the charges of offline or online solicitation of a minor in Texas, the prosecution is actively building their case against you.
Defining offline & online solicitation of a minor in Texas
In Texas, solicitation of a minor is a charge that applies to any pursuit of sexual activity with a minor, including online requests for child pornograpahy. Note that solicitation can include—but is not the same as—hiring an underage prostitute.
The Texas Penal Code Section 33.021 provides the following legal definitions for both online solicitation of a minor and offline solicitation:
- Section 33.021(b) states that an adult is soliciting a minor if he or she, “through the Internet or any electronic message service, intentionally communicates in a sexually explicit manner with a minor or distributes sexually explicit material to a minor.” In this context, the term “sexually explicit” refers to communication (including pornography) that involves or describes sexual conduct.
- Section 33.021(c) states that solicitation of a minor occurs when an adult “knowingly solicits a minor to meet with the intent that the minor would engage in sexual contact, sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse.”
In the context of solicitation, the Texas Penal code defines a minor as anyone who directly tells the accused that they are younger than 17 and/or is believed by the defendant to be under the age of 17 at the time of the alleged offense. Both offline and online solicitation of a minor in Texas carries steep, life-altering penalties and punishments.
Punishments for solicitation of a minor
“Is online solicitation of a minor in Texas a felony?” This is one of the first and most commonly-asked we receive. In Texas, offline and online solicitation of a minor is a third-degree felony. Charges for solicitation of a minor may come with jail time in Texas. If convicted, you’ll be facing a minimum prison sentence of 2-10 years, a maximum fine of $10,000, and placement on the Texas Sex Offender Registry.
If the minor you’re accused of soliciting was under the age of 14, your charges will be upgraded to a second-degree felony, punishable by a 2-20 year prison sentence, a maximum fine of $10,000, and a lifetime placement on the Texas Sex Offender Registry.
Defense options for online solicitation of a minor in Texas
Because Texas police often use sting operations to catch and accuse people of solicitation, the prosecution usually has plenty of evidence to use against the accused. That said, there two main defenses to solicitation outlined in Texas Penal Code Section 33.021(b).
Age difference between the victim and the accused was less than 3 years
In Texas, the same “Romeo and Juliet” laws that apply to statutory rape also apply to solicitation of a minor. The Romeo and Juliet laws specify that If the minor is at least 14 years old at the time of the alleged offense and the accused is less than three years older than them, then, so long as the interaction is consensual, it is also legal. In other words, so long as the interaction is consensual, a 16-year-old can legally solicit a 14-year-old.
To be clear, consent is irrelevant if the victim is younger than 17 years old and you are more than three years their senior. Even if the minor consented to the activity, you can still be found guilty of solicitation.
The accused is/was married to the minor
Although an uncommon scenario, Texas law does exempt cases of solicitation when the couple is/was married at the time of the alleged offense. In the state of Texas, anyone aged 14 and older can legally marry so long as they have parental consent to the union.
If it can be proven that you and the alleged victim were legally married, then you could not be found guilty of solicitation.
Each case Is unique
Aside from the two former common defenses, the unique subtleties of each case be used to influence the final outcome of your case. While online sting operations may make it easy for prosecutors to collect evidence and prove guilt, the specific factors of your life and case can be used to influence sentencing.
Accused of soliciting a minor in Texas? Get The Wilder Firm on your side!
Doug Wilder and the team at The Wilder Firm have extensive experience with online solicitation cases and can help you achieve your case’s best possible outcome. As both an aggressive Dallas defense attorney and a former Texas prosecutor, Doug Wilder knows the ins and outs of solicitation cases and can help you craft a quality defense for your case
The only way to protect your freedom and your reputation is to act now. Don’t give up hope: contact The Wilder Firm today to schedule your free consultation.
Related Practice Areas
Texas Sentencing Guidelines for Drug Offenses
Sex Offender Rights: How Texas Sex Offender Registration Works
Get a free consultation
Sign up to our newsletter and get the latest tips