Virginia police stings nab illegal internet solicitors
Seeking sexual contact with a minor is a crime. And when it happens online, the activity is known as internet solicitation. Even if an actual child is never contacted, the act of even attempting to contact a child counts as a crime. Undercover police stings play a major role in uncovering illegal internet solicitation.
Children between the ages of 13 to 15-years old are most often targeted by online sexual predators. During a sting, a law enforcement officer plays the role of a young boy or girl online. The officer receives a fake internet profile or access to a chat room.
In most cases, the adult will spend several weeks or days building an online relationship with who they believe is a child. This act is known as grooming. It’s how sexual predators gain a child’s trust. When the possible sex offender requests a meeting, an arrest is made at that meeting. All online interactions between the officer and the adult are kept as evidence.
The officer is prohibited from initiating sexual contact or conversation to avoid accusations of entrapment. The officer must not do anything that encourages the online solicitation of a minor. Instead, the officer must wait until the possible sex offender initiates sexual contact or conversation. Only then can the law make a move to arrest the possible offender.
Federal and State Charges Apply
Federal law states that online soliciting of a minor younger than 18-years old is a felony. Ten-years in prison is the minimum punishment for attempting to entice a minor into a sexual situation. The minimum penalty is higher if the adult creates child pornography. Life imprisonment is the maximum punishment a convicted person can receive for this activity.
Electronically sending sexually explicit material to a minor also counts as online soliciting under federal law. If the minor is younger than 16-years old, the perpetrator can spend up to 10 years in prison.
In Virginia, the act of soliciting a minor online is illegal for a person 7 years or more than a child 15 years old and younger. Even if the 15-year old is acting under the influence of another individual, the punishment remains the same. This is a felony can result in a $2,500 fine and up to a 30-year prison term.
Under § 18.2-374.3. of Virginia Law it is a class 6 felony to use any form of electronic communication system for in promoting any sort of indecent liberties with children or with the production or sale of child pornography.
There are several more laws concerning internet sex crimes. The issue is complex, and the information here isn’t legal advice. If you need legal advice concerning sex crimes and the Internet, then you should contact an attorney for more information.
What this article does is point out the seriousness of Internet sex crimes. And it gives you an overview of what counts as a crime according to Virginia and federal laws. If you’re facing sex crime charges, contact a defense attorney to help with your case.