The internet has made communication easier than ever before. Unfortunately, it has also opened up a new opportunity for online criminal offending. We commonly hear about offenses like identity theft or fraud happening online. However, there are also many internet sex crimes occurring daily. We’ve put together a list explaining some of the most common online sex offenses, penalties for these offenses, and what you need to do if you are charged with one of these crimes.
Most Common Online Offenses
Many online sex offenses are related to pornography and/or harassment.
You may be charged with child pornography if you have made, posted, distributed, or downloaded lewd material of individuals under 18. You may not know that the law also includes any computer-generated or photoshop images that depict child pornography.
Child pornography cases are typically investigated for months before making an official arrest and can result in state or federal charges.
Solicitation of a Minor
There are three main elements of an online solicitation of a minor charge:
- You arranged meeting with a minor or person you believed to be a minor
- You were motivated by sexual interest
- You intended to engage in lewd behavior with the minor at the meeting
Even if the proposed meet-up did not occur, you may still be charged with solicitation if the above elements can be proven by messages sent between you and the minor.
Not all states have a specific law criminalizing revenge porn, but California does. When relationships go sour, some individuals publicize sexual photos or videos of the other partner to get revenge and humiliate them. When this happens, it’s a crime.
Blackmail differs from revenge porn in that the blackmailer is relying on the threat of publicizing private content to harass and control another individual. This is sometimes referred to as sextortion.
The individual who obtains private photos of another person may threaten to post or send them unless they are paid, given more explicit content, or other favors.
The potential penalties for online sex offenses vary greatly based on the circumstances of the offense. You could receive a misdemeanor, felony, or even federal conviction. With each type of conviction, you risk expensive fines and jail time.
Sex Offender Registry
Nearly everyone convicted of a sex crime has to register as a sex offender. California uses a three-tier system based on the severity of the offense that determines how long you are required to remain on the public list.
- Tier 1 (low-level crimes): 10 years
- Tier 2 (mid-level crimes): 20 years
- Tier 3 (most severe crimes): Lifetime registration
While on the registry, you are required to update your information annually as well as inform the State if you move.
Information that is publicly available on the registry may include:
- Your full name
- Your photo
- Identifying information (hair color, eye color, height, etc.)
- The offense you were convicted of
For severe or repeat offenders, your home address will also be public.
After Being Charged With An Internet Sex Crime
If you are facing online sex offense charges, the stakes are high. Being convicted of a sex crime will not only result in criminal penalties, but could hurt numerous other aspects of your life.
- You may be unable to work in certain fields
- You may lose your current job
- You may struggle to obtain housing
- Your relationships may suffer
- You will damage your reputation
- If convicted of a felony offense, you may lose freedoms
It is crucial that you contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible after being arrested. A strong legal team knows what it takes to handle a complex sex crime case. At Newman & Allen, we know there is no room for error when it comes to these types of cases. Contact us today to set up a free consultation to learn more about what we can do for you.