Facing sex crimes charges under federal or state law can be an extremely anxiety-inducing experience for anyone in Texas, and it is critical to understand whether certain actions you might have taken—or are accused of taking—can actually result in sex crimes charges. As experienced Dallas sex crimes defense lawyers, we vigorously defend clients who have questions about why they are facing charges even though they never engaged in any physical contact with another person. Indeed, you might be wondering: can I face sex crimes charges even if I never left my home?
We want to explain the differences between charges for solicitation of a minor and indecent contact, which are two very distinct offenses under federal law and state law. In short, whether or not you can face charges for either of these offenses will depend upon the particular facts surrounding your case.
No Physical Contact is Necessary for Solicitation of a Minor Charges
Under federal law (18 U.S.C. 2422), a person can face charges connected to the solicitation of a minor even if that person never engages in any kind of physical contact with a minor and never leaves their home. Indeed, federal law makes clear that it is illegal for any person to use the mail or any means of interstate commerce (for example, by using the internet on your computer or phone) to knowingly persuade, induce, entice, or coerce “any individual who has not attained the age of 18 years to engage in prostitution or any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense” A conviction will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 10 years in prison.
In addition, under the same statute, it is unlawful to actually persuade, induce, entice, or coerce a minor to travel across state lines to your home, or even to attempt to do so. A conviction can result in up to 20 years in prison. Federal law defines these types of offenses with the language of “coercion and enticement.” To be clear, you can face charges under this federal law without having any kind of physical contact with a minor and without ever leaving your home.
Texas has a similar law pertaining to online solicitation of a minor. Under Texas Penal Code 33.021, you can face felony charges for attempting to solicit a minor on your computer or by engaging in any kind of communication through email or text message. You can face charges under state law even if there is no physical contact and you never leave your home.
Physical Contact is Necessary for Indecent Contact Charges
Differently, to face indecent contact charges, or for indecency with a child under Texas Penal Code 21.11, a person must be alleged to have engaged in actual physical contact with a minor. Texas law expressly defines contact as “any touching by a person, including touching through clothing, of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of a child,” or “any touching of any part of the body of a child, including touching through clothing, with the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of a person.”
To be clear, this offense could be charged even if you never left your home because the alleged offense could have occurred in your home. Yet this offense cannot be charged through virtual contact, such as through communications on your computer or phone. Yet, as we noted above, that type of virtual contact can result in other criminal charges in Texas.
Contact a Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer in Dallas
If you are facing charges related to the solicitation of a minor or indecent contact, you should seek advice from a dedicated Dallas sex crime defense attorney today. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC to learn more about how we can assist you.