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Understanding Internet Sex Crimes: What is Illegal and What is Not?

People utilize the internet for many reasons, one of which is to send explicit messages or images. While there is nothing legally wrong with posting and viewing pornographic content, there is some content that crosses the line between “pornography” and “criminal actions.” If you cross that line, you may find yourself in huge trouble.

Sex crimes are not just limited to the physical. In fact, many sex crimes today are committed on the internet. Some of these crimes are more minor and deal with the solicitation or promotion of prostitution, while others are much more severe and deal with the promotion of child pornography or the promotion of sex trafficking. Whatever the case, if you were charged with an internet sex crime, you risk jail time, hefty fines, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. Do not let your future be ruined because you did not understand the difference between legal pornography and an internet sex crime, and if you are charged, reach out to a skilled Houston sex crimes defense attorney right away.

What is Against the Law Online?

Though the internet seems like this wonderfully un-censored world, it is actually a prime hotspot for catching and stopping criminal activity. Because of this, there are a surprising number of rules and regulations governing the online world, and any activity that occurs online falls under the jurisdiction of both federal and state laws. For this reason, performing illegal actions online can have similar criminal consequences as doing so in the physical world.

Most online sex crimes involve sexual paraphernalia that showcases individuals who do not consent or who are unable to consent to the activity in which the paraphernalia show them participating. In short, many online sex crimes take place when an adult attempts to perform illegal activity with children or minors.

Internet sex crimes are different from physical ones in that they do not involve physical touching; rather, they involve the viewing of illegal material or the attempt to schedule meetings with minors in order to engage in sexual activity. Some illegal activity that occurs on the internet includes:

  • The distribution, promoting, or possession of child pornography;
  • The solicitation of a minor; and
  • The promotion or facilitation of sex trafficking

Each of these offenses is extremely serious, and if charged with one or more of them, you face severe legal consequences.

Punishments for Internet Sex Crimes

The consequences of internet sex crimes vary depending on the nature of the crime and the age of the individuals involved. For a better understanding of what type of consequences you face with a conviction, consider the following:

  • Under Section 43.26 of the Texas Penal Code, a person who knowingly accesses or possesses child pornography is subject to two to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 and a lifetime registration as a sex offender;
  • Under Section 33.021 of the Texas Penal Code, any person who engages in the solicitation of a minor, which includes persuading a child to meet for sexual contact, distributing pornographic material to a minor, or communicating with a minor in a sexual manner, is subject to two to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and a lifetime registration as a sex offender;
  • Any person who engages in sex trafficking, which involves the transporting of person or persons for the purpose of making that person or persons perform sexual acts in exchange for money, is subject two to 20 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
  • Under Chapter 43 of the Texas Penal Code, any individual who attempts to schedule a sexual encounter for payment in return is guilty of prostitution and is subject to up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2000. Any person who promotes prostitution, meaning that they create advertisements to persuade people to engage in prostitution, is subject to up to one year in jail and potentially a $4,000 fine.

Your Defense to Sex Crimes in Texas

If you were caught and charged with committing an internet sex crime in Texas, your future may be at stake. Your best defense starts with hiring an aggressive Houston sex crimes defense lawyer right away. Call The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today to schedule your initial case evaluation.