Internet Crimes Against Children
Internet chat rooms and commercial Web sites such as Facebook, Craigslist, MySpace, Twitter, Google, Yahoo and various dating web sites can be great places to meet interesting people and make new friends. They're also a great place to meet the state and federal law enforcement officers who are looking for people willing to have sexual chat with fictitious teenagers. There are numerous Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces around Washington state employing these methods every day. At the Meryhew Law Group, our attorneys have extensive experience defending clients accused of these crimes.
You can be charged with Communicating with a Minor for Immoral Purposes, a felony sex offense, even if the teenager you have chatted with is actually a middle aged Detective posing as a teenager. That means that you will be a registered sex offender for at least ten years, and this offense can follow you for many years. If you travel to meet someone you have chatted with online even more serious charges can be filed, including Attempted Rape of a Child 2, a Class A felony sex offense with very serious consequences.Internet Stings—Juvenile Prostitutes Online.
A growing number of agencies are using a sting where they pose on craigslist, Back Page or other online escort sites as a 15 year old girl who is willing to meet for sex in exchange for money. Responding to one of these stings can lead to Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor charges with a prison sentence, three years of Community Custody or Probation, and a minimum of ten years of sex offender registration. At the Meryhew Law Group we have been fighting these stings and helping our clients achieve good outcomes for many years, and we understand how to approach these charges to get the best results.
These are life-changing offenses with jail and prison sentences that can add up to many years or even life in prison. Our attorneys will provide you with an aggressive defense based on their experience in guiding clients through these challenging cases. You need experienced counsel to enable you to put your best foot forward when facing these charges.Internet Stings — Attempted Rape Of A Child Second Degree.
The Special Assault Unit (SAU) in every municipal police department or County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for investigating sex crimes. Often they work with state and federal Internet Crimes Against Children task forces that may include members of local law enforcement departments along with federal agents. These SAU/ICAC investigators enter chat rooms and pose as underage teens interested in sex.
The standard method we see in Washington is an investigator who poses either as a 13-year-old girl, or as the parent of a 13 year old girl interested in sexual encounters with their child. Their goal is to entice the person into sexual talk and hopefully to a meeting where they can be arrested. These investigators are highly trained to sound like teenagers and use very sophisticated measures to convince the person they are chatting with that they are a minor interested in sexual contact or sexual discussion with an adult. The apparent reason they pose as a 13 year old has to do with the seriousness of the offenses they can charge. Offenses against real or fictitious 13 years old are Class A offenses punishable by up to life in prison, while offenses against 14 or 15 year olds are Class C felonies punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.
When a person who is chatting with a fictitious child online takes a “substantial step” toward meeting up with that child, then the person has “attempted” to commit that crime and can be charged. That is the goal of the SAU investigator—to get the person to come to some location to "meet" the child. Typically the person posing as the child or their parent will instruct our clients to bring lubricant, condoms or Viagra with them to prove their intent was to have sexual contact with the minor. Once the person shows up they are charged with a Class A felony that could result in their being sentenced to prison for the rest of their lives.Penalties For Attempted Rape Of A Child Second Degree.
Attempted Rape of a Child Second Degree is a Class A felony punishable by a maximum of life in prison and a minimum sentence of 58.5 – 76.5 months in prison. This is an indeterminate sentence, so if the person goes to prison they are only released if the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board finds that they are not likely to commit another sex offense if released. If the person is released they will be on probation for the rest of their lives.
At the Meryhew Law Group we have extensive experience representing clients accused of these internet stings, with proven results. If you are charged with this very serious crime you need an experienced and aggressive attorney who knows how to fight for your future.Defenses To Attempted Rape Of A Child Second Degree?
It is not a defense to Attempted Rape of a Child Second Degree that the person you were talking with online, or planning to meet in person, was actually an adult. The fact is in these cases there isn’t a “real” child, only a “fictitious” child, and yet the penalties for these offenses are just as serious as if there had been an actual child. An attempt to commit a crime, which would be impossible to accomplish, is still a crime. The law reads:
(1) A person is guilty of an attempt to commit a crime if, with intent to commit a specific crime, he or she does any act which is a substantial step toward the commission of that crime.
(2) It is not a defense to a prosecution of an attempted crime that the crime charged to have been attempted was, under the attendant circumstances, factually or legally impossible of being committed. RCW 9A.28.020Internet Stings — Communicating With A Minor For Immoral Purposes.
Often what is said online is pure fantasy. However, the fact that a person never intended to act on what was said or, even more importantly, would have been unable to complete the crime, is not a defense. Talking in a sexually suggestive way online with someone who claims to be a minor is a felony sex offense, regardless of whether any efforts to meet are even discussed. We see clients charged with offenses against children who live in different states and whom they will never meet.The Elements Of Communicating With A Minor For Immoral Purposes — What The Government Has To Prove.
In order for a person to be found guilty of Communicating with a Minor for Immoral Purposes (CMIP) the government must prove that the person either was a minor or that the person communicating with them believed they were a minor. This communication can be in person, or via an electronic form of communication. The law reads:
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a person who communicates with a minor for immoral purposes, or a person who communicates with someone the person believes to be a minor for immoral purposes, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
(2) A person who communicates with a minor for immoral purposes is guilty of a class C felony punishable according to chapter 9A.20 RCW if the person has previously been convicted under this section or of a felony sexual offense under chapter 9.68A,9A.44, or 9A.64 RCW or of any other felony sexual offense in this or any other state or if the person communicates with a minor or with someone the person believes to be a minor for immoral purposes through the sending of an electronic communication. RCW 9.68A.090Defenses To Communicating With A Minor For Immoral Purposes. Online Communications Defense to CMIP.
If a person is communicating only online with a person who claims to be an adult, then that person cannot be charged with Communicating with a Minor for Immoral Purposes regardless of the person’s true age. In other words, if a child claims to be an adult online then the fact they turn out later to be a minor should not lead to prosecution if the conversation was sexual in nature. The government must prove that the person intended the communications to be received by a minor, and if they have claimed to be an adult then this cannot be proven. See State v. Aljutily, 149 Wn.App. 286 I2009).In Person Communication Defense to CMIP.
It is often very difficult to tell the true age of a young person these days, and the person who believes they can without any further documentation takes a very real risk if they discuss sexual matters with a person who turns out to be a minor. The law in Washington does provide a defense if a person makes a diligent effort to determine if they are talking with a minor. The law reads:
(3) In a prosecution under RCW 9.68A.090 (CMIP) … it is not a defense that the defendant did not know the alleged victim's age. It is a defense, which the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence, that at the time of the offense, the defendant made a reasonable bona fide attempt to ascertain the true age of the minor by requiring production of a driver's license, marriage license, birth certificate, or other governmental or educational identification card or paper and did not rely solely on the oral allegations or apparent age of the minor. RCW 9.68A.110 (3)Contact A Seattle Internet Crimes Against Children Defense Attorney.
At the Meryhew Law Group we have been representing people on internet-based offenses for many years with proven results. We understand the many issues involved, and we have a track record of helping out clients navigate this difficult area of the law. If you have been charged with one of these very serious offenses call The Meryhew Law Group today for a free consultation.