Texas Penal Code 33.021 / Online Solicitation of a Minor

The Internet is one of the most significant sources of communication and connection between many people across the world. However, the ease of connection with other people can lead to major issues, including criminal activity. In some cases, these crimes may even involve minors.

For example, you may have been charged with online solicitation of a minor under Texas Penal Code 33.021. A sex crime charge could lead to felony charges, which can impact your life moving forward. Understanding these allegations and what you can do to defend your future against them can help you prepare for your day in court.

Elements Required to Prove Cases of Online Solicitation of a Minor

When accused of online solicitation of a minor, you may face specific accusations regarding your behavior. In Texas, there are certain elements to this sex crime charge that must be proven before you face a sentencing. Because of this, Texas prosecutors must prove the following elements under Texas Penal Code 33.021 to pursue charges:

  • You are 17 years old or older
  • You acted with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of another person
  • You did so through online communication
  • You intentionally communicated with a minor in a sexually explicit manner

If the prosecution is unable to prove these elements, they may not have a child sex crime against you. However, with enough evidence, they may be prepared to press charges against you and pursue felony charges. That can lead to devastating impacts on your life moving forward, including second or third-degree felony charges under Texas Penal Code 12.33.

Defense Strategies for Charges of Online Solicitation

Often, accusations of online solicitation of a minor come after a lengthy sting operation to ensure the police have a strong case against the person being accused. However, you always have a right to defend yourself in court, pursuing a reduction or dismissal of your case. Below are a few potential strategies you may take against your charges.

Mistake of Fact

In some cases, one of your top defenses may be that there was a simple mistake of the facts in your case. For example, if you share a computer with another person, they may have been the ones attempting to solicit a minor online. In these cases, you may need to show that you could not have been the one taking these actions.

Defenses of Age and Consent

Sometimes, you may also have been near the same age as the minor in question. If you are less than 3 years older than the minor, and the minor also consented to this conduct, you may have grounds for the Romeo and Juliet defense under Section 42.017 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Proving your age may be a key facet of your defense strategy.

You Are Married to the Minor

In some cases, you may pursue a defense on the grounds that you are married to that minor. When a minor is married, the grounds for legal action may change with regard to their marriage. In these cases, you may simply need to approve that you are in a legal relationship.

Penalties for Online Solicitation Can Be Severe

Penalties for accusations of online solicitation of a minor can have harsh penalties. In fact, under the law, this accusation may lead to second or third-degree felony charges. Felonies of that degree can lead to years in prison, high fines, and a criminal record that can impact your future for decades. Do not hesitate to seek help to pursue a reduction or dismissal of your charges, when your future is on the line.