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Digital Communication Can Be Used As Evidence in Your Criminal Case


Digital communications can be compelling and be the evidence that makes or breaks a criminal case. The Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure is not as helpful in cases involving illegal online communications as it is in cases where physical evidence was confined to a defendant’s residence or vehicle. For example, in cases involving drug possession and arising from traffic stops, many defendants have successfully argued that the police did not have probable cause to search the vehicle. Many of the justifications that police give for traffic stops and vehicle searches are subjective at best. 

When it comes to illegal communications online, however, content moderators are legally required to report them to law enforcement, so there is usually plenty of evidence by the time the police obtain a warrant to search your devices. Communicating online with minors in an effort to engage them in sexual conduct and possessing or distributing sexually explicit images or videos depicting minors carry serious criminal penalties, even in instances where the defendant has never made physical contact with a victim. 

If you are accused of illegal communications with or about a minor, it is in your interest to hire a Texas sex crime attorney to fight the charges.

Texas Imposes Severe Repercussions For Enticement of a Minor

Until March 2021, William Alan Shelly was employed as a band director at a middle school and a high school in Muleshoe. Early in 2021, he began exchanging text messages with an eighth-grade student at the school where he taught; court documents estimate that she was 14 years old at the time. It is not clear how law enforcement first became aware of the communications. Still, on March 8, 2021, they searched his cell phone and a cell phone that belonged to the victim and found messages referring to sexual encounters between Shelly and the victim.

Shelly could have faced a sentence of 10 years to life in prison; news reports did not indicate the charges he originally faced. He pleaded guilty to one count of attempted enticement of a minor and one count of enticement of a minor. In October 2021, the court handed down a sentence of 14 years in prison; Shelly, now 58, must serve at least half of his sentence before he becomes eligible for parole, meaning that the earliest he could be released is 2028. After his release from prison, Shelly must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He is also not allowed to work in any professions that would bring him into contact with minors or to loiter at places frequented by children. He is not allowed to contact the victim or her family and must allow his probation officer to monitor his personal relationships.

Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, About Sex Crime Cases

A Dallas criminal defense attorney can help you if you are facing charges for a sex offense, such as the enticement of a minor. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC in Dallas, Texas, to discuss your case.

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