A sexual-related conviction can result in life-altering consequences, including years in prison and mandatory sex offender registration. Sex crime convictions can have a variety of implications in terms of your career, future education and housing. If you or a loved one are charged with an internet sex-related crime, what is the best defense strategy? The internet has made sex offenses easier to commit, since people can communicate with one another and remain anonymous. There are several ways police can monitor online conversations. They’re using the Kick app to gather information and use other applications. The internet allows people to communicate with others without revealing their identity. Many people use various websites, chat rooms, and even social media to view sexually explicit material and find a sexual partner.
While this type of activity is legal when it involves consenting adults, many types of sexual-related internet activity can lead to California sex crime charges—especially if the participants are minors. There is a growing number of online crimes involving sex, including: pornography; sexual exploitation; stalking and harassment (including cyberbullying) ; grooming children for sex or to send indecent images of themselves. Law enforcement agencies have found it necessary to modify their techniques in order to investigate suspects who engage in illegal online sexual-related activity.
In California, there are many several statutes defining different types of online sex crime charges, such as:
- Penal Code 311 PC – child pornography,
- Penal Code 288.2 PC – sending harmful material to a minor,
- Penal Code 288.4 PC – arrange a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes,
- Penal Code 272 PC – contribute to the delinquency of a minor,
- Penal Code 647(j)(4) PC – revenge porn,
- Sexting under child porn laws,
Sex crimes take place in many different locations and have many aspects. Many sex crimes—including rape, sodomy and sexual battery—require the physical presence of the perpetrator and victim. Other crimes, such as penal Code 266h and 266i PC pimping and pandering, involve the transactional use or proposition of another. Some sex crimes involve adults with mental or physical disabilities, while others include minors. In this article, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will examine the topic of sentencing in more detail.
What is Internet Sex Trafficking?
According to some media reports, the internet has contributed to an increase in sex-trafficking around the world. Approximately five million people worldwide are believed to be victims of such trafficking—including nearly one million minors. Because federal and state authorities are concerned with protecting victims, they routinely perform sting operations using social media platforms and fabricated websites for popular search engines.
The hazards of engaging in online sex crimes
One might think that sex crimes generally require physical contact, not merely making a few simple computer keystrokes in one’s own virtual privacy. This kind of thinking is risky, and can lead to wrong conclusions. Some serious sex crimes do not involve physical contact between perpetrator and victim—these are called “virtual sex crimes.” Recognizing that surfing the internet for sexual stimulation is not a victimless activity, online sex crimes cause serious harm to other human beings. Sex scenes, whether pornographic or not, always require consenting adults. However, when children are involved, they are often coerced into participating against their will. The seriousness of the harm caused by such material is a major reason why federal and state governments have made possession or distribution of sexually explicit content illegal.
Penal Code 311.11 PC – Child Pornography Charges
Child pornography is the most common type of online sex crime. Under Penal Code 311.11 of the California Penal Code, it is a felony to possess or duplicate any material that shows children engaged in sexual acts.
Subsection (a) of the law clearly defines possession to include all usual forms of online activity and many old or unusual ones.
“Any person who knowingly possesses any pornographic material involving a minor under 18 engaging in or simulating sexual conduct, is guilty of a felony crime punishable by imprisonment.”
Penal Code 311.11 also targets more conduct than just the viewing of pornography on a computer screen: it criminalizes any participation in child porn distribution, even virtual acts such as chatting online with other fetishists.
Anyone commits a child porn crime when he/she:
- sells, or
- Transmits it.
Subsection (d) of PC 311.11 states, “It is not necessary to prove that the matter is obscene in order to establish a violation of this section.” Federal and state investigators are posing online as part of a sting operation to catch people committing sex crimes. They will spend their time on the internet for the same reason. Many people recall the popular television show “To Catch a Predator,” which was a police sting operation. Law enforcement and social media platforms are used by law enforcers to find criminals. Online sex crimes come in many forms.
Prosecutors may charge people with a variety of online sex crimes, not just child pornography. Other types of sex crimes may take place online, including:
- Penal Code 266i PC – pandering,
- Penal Code 288 PC – lewd conduct with a minor,
- 18 U.S.C. § 2251 – sexual exploitation of children,
- 18 U.S.C. § 2252 – federal child pornography,
It is well known that federal and state investigators use fake identities to catch suspects in sex crimes.
How Can a Sex Crime Defense Lawyer Help You?
Because of the severe penalties and enormous collateral consequences associated with sex crimes, including especially sex offender registration—our Los Angeles sex crime lawyers can help anyone charged with any form of state or federal sexual offense. Our firm knows how to build a strong defense against any kind of online sex crime charges. There are many ways to defend yourself against criminal charges. One is to say that you did not commit the crime, but there are others as well.
Lack of knowledge argument
Child pornography statutes like California PC 311.11 make it illegal to possess or control child-related pornography, and the defendant must know he is doing so. Innocent Internet searches can generate incriminating evidence for sex crime investigations. If another person uses one’s computer for illegal activity, it may appear that the owner of the computer has done so. Remember that a charge is only an accusation and is not proof of guilt. Prosecutors must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order to win their case against you. Perhaps we can argue that you had no knowledge that you were in possession of child pornography.
A careful review of the prosecutor’s evidence could reveal other possible defense strategies, such as:
- the use of sting operations that result in the entrapment of innocent suspects;
- a search and seizure of electronic equipment or storage that is unreasonable;
- violations of the rights to legal representation and against self-incrimination;
- the photographs did not involve sexual acts by or with children.
- that the conduct was consensual and did not violate any laws.
- The charge can be dismissed under mental-health diversion.
- The investigator or prosecutor may be withholding exonerating evidence, which could lead to a Misconduct charge.
- fabrication, falsification, or alteration of evidence;
- This case has gaps in the chain of custody, which could lead to problems during future litigation.
For more information on sex crime defenses, or to schedule a consultation if you’ve been charged with a sex offense, call our experienced Los Angeles sex crime lawyers today. You should not waste any time when dealing with these types of cases.