West Chester Minor Solicitation Lawyer
A person may not solicit a minor—or a law enforcement officer who is posing as a minor—to engage in activities which would be unlawful for the minor to engage in. The term “solicit” means to urge, request, authorize or advise the minor, whether in person, through another person, over the phone, through any type of print media, through the mail or through e-mail, text or any other electronic means. Whether you are charged through federal or Pennsylvania state laws, you will certainly face severe penalties if you are convicted of the crime of solicitation of a minor.
It is important that you not decide to plead guilty to the charges of solicitation of a minor simply because you don’t think you have any other choice. Cases of solicitation of a minor are very fact-specific, and there are a number of defenses which may apply in your particular case. Whether you are innocent of the charges entirely, or you made a one-time error in judgment, having an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney by your side is crucial to the outcome of your charges.
What is Solicitation of a Minor?
If you asked a minor to engage in a conversation of a sexual nature, then perhaps asked to meet the minor for the purpose of engaging in sexual activities, then you engaged in solicitation of a minor. Any time an adult intentionally entices, allures, persuades or invites a minor to enter a vehicle, home, office or other dwelling for the purpose of having a sexual encounter, solicitation of a minor has occurred. In our digital age, solicitation of a minor most often occurs over the computer, but it is important to know that attempting to solicit or entice a child—whether over the computer, or in person—can result in solicitation charges, even if you never carried out the offense.
Falsely Accused of Solicitation of a Minor?
Unfortunately, sometimes false allegations are made, which can be very difficult to deal with. Your communications may not have been meant in a sexual way at all—you might have just been being friendly to the minor. Or, perhaps someone else used your computer or your cell phone, and you knew nothing about the communications until you were charged. You could be the victim of entrapment, meaning you were coaxed into saying things by a police officer posing as a minor, and, under normal circumstances, you would not have spoken to a minor in an inappropriate manner.
You may have thought the person you were communicating with on the Internet was 18 or older because he or she told you so, therefore you are not guilty of the solicitation of a minor. You may have communicated with a minor, in a way that could have been misconstrued, or in a way that was just on the edge of inappropriate, in a chat room or through a text or e-mail, yet did not complete the act with the minor. There are many different scenarios which could have resulted in your charges of solicitation of a minor, and only a knowledgeable Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney will be able to sort out the facts of the case and build a solid defense on your behalf.
Penalties Associated with Solicitation of a Minor
If you are convicted of traveling to meet a minor, you could serve a minimum of 21 months in Pennsylvania state prison, pay heavy fines, and you could be required to register as a sex offender. You could also be subject to sex offender counseling, probation or even house arrest with a curfew, random searches of your person, vehicle or residence, annual polygraph exams, and you could be unable to have contact with minor children.
Potential Defenses for Solicitation of a Minor
If you are charged with Solicitation of a Minor, or Traveling to Meet a Minor, your attorney will build a defense on your behalf based on the circumstances surrounding your charges, however the following are some of the more common defenses used in this situation:
· If you are charged with Traveling to Meet a Minor, there must be proof that you traveled for the specific purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a child; if you communicated with the minor for a lawful purpose, then there is not intent.
· If you only responded to an offer of sex, and did not attempt to persuade the child yourself, then there is no intention or act to seduce the child.
· You may have believed the person was an adult, and had no intentions of interacting with a minor.
· You were entrapped by law enforcement, who acted in a way which misled you, or the police may have misinterpreted your words to have a criminal meaning.
· Other people had access to your computer or your phone, and you were not the person soliciting the minor.
· There were mitigating factors, i.e. you suffer from a mental or emotional condition which make you more comfortable seeking personal relationships through electronic communications;
· There was ambiguity in your communications with the minor—in other words, there was no intent to engage in sex, only sexual banter.
· This is your first offense, and you have shown genuine remorse for your actions.
· The alleged victim initiated the contact or was a willing participant.
· You intend to cooperate fully with law enforcement to help them arrest another person who has committed a more serious crime, in exchange for a plea bargain.
If you are facing Pennsylvania charges of Solicitation of a Minor, it is extremely important that you speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as you are charged. Your attorney will aggressively investigate your charges, then will build the best defense for you. Don’t try to face these charges alone—you could end up behind bars for a considerable amount of time.
The sex crimes defense attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been accused of sexual assault crimes. Our Chester County based law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, , Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and . Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately.