Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Sexual Exploitation of a Minor — Smart Phones, Webcams and Sexting over the Internet.

In these days of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and with a smart phone in the pocket of just about every teenager in America, it is no wonder that we have seen an explosion in cases involving sexually explicit photographs of minors. Most of these cases involve photos exchanged voluntarily that end up being distributed more widely. If a person photographs a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, or simply invites a minor to take such a photograph, they may be charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. At the Meryhew Law Group we have extensive experience working with these cases and have achieved a track record of proven results.

Sexting

“Sexting” (the sending of sexually explicit photos via text message) has become very commonplace in social media, and in our public and private schools. Many young people view modesty as old-fashioned, or just don’t think through the consequences of their choices. As a result, they end up sending very explicit photos of themselves to friends, people they are dating and others. But once that photo is sent it is very difficult to control what happens to it, and all too often a jilted ex or a former friend distributes these images to others. If a person suggests, invites, authorizes or permits a minor to send them a sexually explicit image, or even if you receive one unsolicited, you could be charged with a very serious crime.

Technically these images qualify as Child Pornography as well, but most Prosecutors do not bring this charge in cases involving voluntary photos taken by minors themselves. But an adult who engages in this kind of behavior could well face Child Pornography charges as well as Sexual Exploitation of a Minor.

The Elements of Sexual Exploitation of Minor — What the Government has to Prove

There are a couple of ways to be found guilty of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor.

  1. If you threaten or force a minor to behave sexually while being photographed, videotaped or as part of a live performance.
  2. If you “aid, invite, employ, authorize or cause” a minor to behave sexually while being photographed, videotaped or as part of a live performance.
  3. If you are a parent, legal guardian or otherwise have custody of a child and you allow them to behave sexually while being photographed, videotaped or as part of a live performance.
Penalties for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Sexual Exploitation of a Minor is a serious crime that has a minimum sentence of 31 – 41 months for a single incident, as well as three years of probation and at least ten years as a registered sex offender.

Defenses to Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

The only defense under the law to this charge is that you took steps to make sure of the person’s real age before you took, sent or invited the taking of sexually explicit photos, videos or a live performance. In order to prevail with this defense the person must prove that at the time of the events they asked for and saw a driver’s license, marriage certificate, birth certificate or governmental or student identification. The person cannot rely solely on the oral representations of the person or the apparent age of the person, and must ask for identification. It isn’t easy or even possible to check someone’s driver’s license over the internet. The fact is you have to rely on the person’s oral allegations or apparent age when chatting on the internet or even while text messaging.

The Definition of Sexually Explicit Conduct — What is Prohibited?

The fact is that the law defines a very broad range of images as sexually explicit, and almost any photos or videos of a nude child could meet the definition. The definition includes:

  • Actual or simulated sexual intercourse of any type between humans or animals.
  • Penetrating the vagina or rectum with any body part of object.
  • Masturbation.
  • Sadomasochistic abuse of any person.
  • Feces or urine when done for sexual gratification.
  • Any depiction of the genitals or unclothed pubic or rectal areas of a minor, or the bare breast of a female minor, when the image is for the sexual stimulation of the person viewing it.
  • Any touching of a person’s unclothed or clothed pubic area, genitals, buttocks or breast area when the image is for the sexual stimulation of the person viewing it.

Even the mere depiction of a child’s unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks of breast can be sufficient to meet the test of "sexually explicit conduct" if the picture is deemed to be for the purposes of the sexual stimulation of the viewer. As you can imagine, depending on the intent of the person viewing the material, even the candid shots of your own children in the bathtub might meet this definition.

Contact a Seattle Sexual Exploitation of a Minor Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, or if you are being investigated for this offense, the stakes are too high to rely on anyone other than an experienced, respected and aggressive attorney. At The Meryhew Law Group we have been working with clients charged with this offense for many years with proven results. Call us today for a free initial consultation.