West Chester

Online Solicitation Lawyer

Accusations of soliciting a minor online aren’t just scandalous; they’ll change the way your family, friends, coworkers, and community look at you. No matter how false the allegations, criminal charges can alter your life. To defend yourself against sex crime charges, hire an experienced online solicitation lawyer in West Chester, PA. An arrest is not the same as a conviction. With the help of a local criminal defense attorney, you may be able to avoid charges from going any further or prove your innocence.

Attorney Michael J. Skinner has decades of experience defending people in Southeastern Pennsylvania after they’ve been accused of online solicitation. He began his career as a prosecutor in Chester County, which gives him unique insight into how prosecutors approach these cases. He uses this experience to investigate his client’s cases and develop strong defense strategies. Attorney Skinner knows your reputation, livelihood, and family are at stake. That’s why we aggressively pursue the best possible outcome in every case.

To defend yourself against online solicitation charges, set up a free and confidential consult online or call (610) 436-1410.

Online Solicitation of a Minor

Accusations of using the internet to solicit a minor for sex acts are charged as a felony in Pennsylvania. There are several statutes prosecutors can use to charge you:

Criminal Solicitation

Solicitation to commit a crime is the intent of promoting or facilitating an offense, where you command, encourage, or request another person to engage in specific conduct that would constitute a crime or an attempted crime.

Corruption of Minors

If you are 18 or older, you can be charged for any act that tends to corrupt the morals of a minor. This includes helping or encouraging a minor to commit a crime. This is a first-degree misdemeanor. But if you participate in any conduct related to a sexual offense, which corrupts or encourages a minor to participate in a sex offense, then you face a third-degree felony.

Unlawful Contact with a Minor

This charge refers to intentionally contacting a minor (or an officer who says they’re minor) to engage in:

  • Any sex offense
  • Open lewdness
  • Prostitution
  • Obscene and other sexual materials and performances
  • Sexual abuse of children
  • Sexual exploitation of children

Sting Operations for Online Solicitation

To locate adults committing or attempting to commit child sex crimes, law enforcement routinely set up online sting operations. Officers pretend to be someone else (usually a minor) to get adults to say something unlawful or gain access to files that indicate criminal activity.

These internet stings are sometimes successful. But they also ensnare innocent people. You could virtually walk into a sting operation and be put in a position you normally wouldn’t find yourself. You might hesitantly agree to an activity you have no intention of participating in, or you might play along, thinking it’s just online—not real life.

Saying anything online that alludes to seeking sexual activity with a minor can lead to criminal charges. But are these charges fair?

For a prosecutor to bring online solicitation charges, it must be abundantly clear that you were trying to get a minor to commit a sexual act. Anything short of that isn’t unlawful. So it’s important to work with a lawyer as soon as possible.

Electronic Evidence in Online Solicitation Cases

Online solicitation and other child sex offenses cases often rely on electronic evidence from your computer and mobile devices. But computer files aren’t as straightforward as prosecutors would have you believe. Many files are downloaded without your consent. There could be material on your devices that you’re unaware of.

An online solicitation lawyer who understands the highly technical nature of these cases can make a big impact. Skinner Law Firm thoroughly investigates your online history and hard drives to determine what files were downloaded intentionally versus without your knowledge

Online Solicitation Penalties

Under the statute for Unlawful Contact with a Minor is a felony. You can be charged with the same degree of the underlying offense or a third-degree felony, whichever is greater. Corruption of a minor involving a sex offense is also a third-degree felony.

The penalties of a third-degree felony is up to seven years in prison and a fine between $2,500 and $15,000.

Sex Offender Registration for Online Solicitation of a Minor

Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) determine which convictions require individuals to register as a sex offender. There are three tiers, which determine the duration of registration and verification frequency.

Unlawful contact with a minor is a Tier II offense. You’ll be required to register for at least 25 years and verify your registration information semiannually.

If you fail to register as a sex offender when required to do so, you face a third-degree felony.

Building an Online Solicitation Defense

Speaking with an online solicitation attorney early on cannot be overstated. It protects you from making any incriminating statements and it gives your lawyer the chance to build a defense.

A defense lawyer will thoroughly investigate the accusations, hire experts to review your online history, and evaluate the evidence for weaknesses. We’ll also closely scrutinize the conversation and any prior chats to determine the strength of the prosecutor’s case.

While defending against online solicitation charges, we might look into whether:

  • The police violated your rights during an online sting.
  • The police unlawfully obtained evidence against you.
  • You were a victim of entrapment during an online sting.
  • Files being used as evidence against you were downloaded without your permission or knowledge.
  • Someone else had access to your computer and is responsible for the communications.
  • You had no way to know the other party to the communications was a minor.

Call an Online Solicitation Lawyer for Help

When you are facing accusations of soliciting a minor online, the first thing you should do is protect yourself. Don’t answer a police officer’s questions, try to explain your side of the story, or communicate with the alleged victim.

Say as little as possible and call a Chester County online solicitation attorney Michael J. Skinner. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and resolving things favorably.

Call (610) 436-1410 today for a free and confidential consultation.