Internet sex crimes charged in Virginia mostly entail an allegation of some sort of online solicitation of a child to involve in sexual activity, in violation of § 18.2-374.3 Virginia Code (Use of electronic communications systems to simplify certain offenses against children). This is a very broad code section, which covers a wide range of conduct such as proposing actual sexual contact or solicitation, indecent exposure, or prostitution. While generally referred to as “online solicitation”, “computer solicitation” or “internet solicitation “, the law actually forbids the use of any electronic device for such purposes, including the use of mobile phones to send text messages, so-called “sexting” crimes. Keep in mind that there are no such laws regarding sexting mentioned or exist. But, there a few federal laws which indicate that sexting leads towards online solicitation, hence it counts in the solicitation which is a sex crime.
Our internet sex crimes attorneys have experience with a wide variety of the fact patterns that normally arise with these kinds of cases. In most of the cases and charges, the individual on the other end of the alleged communication is not in reality a minor at all, but rather a secret police detective posing as a child in an online sting operation. A set-up defense to an internet solicitation case is always a possibility to be discovered, but the code of Virginia makes it very difficult to establish a set-up and the law enforcement agencies are well trained in how to avoid it. Generally, the main legal and factual issue in these cases is whether the offender actually knew or had reason to believe that he or she was dealing with a child. Unlike some other sex crimes against minors, internet solicitation of a child is not considered a strict charge offense. If the offender had no reason to believe the other party was under age (if they lied about their age, for example), this is a good security cover in these cases. Our lawyers will carefully review all of the government’s proof, including text prints, chat records, and other online or computer forensic evidence, to fully discover and develop every possible defense to your case.
When the receiver of the alleged internet solicitation is actually underage, the offender will often be charged with committing Indecent Liberties with a child, in violation of § 18.2-370 Virginia Code, in addition to the computer sex crime. With an actual victim, the stakes are usually advanced, and the consequences of a conviction more serious, but the same possible avenues for a positive defense to the charge remain. If the minor lied about his or her age, and the offender did not have a good enough reason to believe otherwise, a good criminal defense lawyer may be able to successfully defend the charge.