SOLICITATION OF MINORS
In Oklahoma, the very attempt to initiate sex with a minor under the age of 16 is a felony sex offense, even if no physical contact results from the attempt. Whether the solicitation of a minor for sex takes place through a face-to-face request or through the use of technology, such as Facebook, text message, or instant messaging, the offense is penalized harshly by Oklahoma law.
In fact, soliciting minors is not only a state crime, but also a federal offense if the act occurs across state lines, on tribal lands, or under other circumstances that put the act under federal jurisdiction.
Adults should be very careful in engaging in online conversations with minors or those they believe to be minors. If a conversation takes a sexually suggestive turn, the consequences can be life-altering for the adult accused of soliciting a minor online. Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, a person convicted of online solicitation of a minor could face life in prison and lifetime sex offender registration.
If you have been accused of soliciting a minor for sex, you must act quickly to secure legal representation. Do not say anything to police or investigators without speaking to a lawyer. Admitting you “messed up” or trying to mitigate the offense can only serve to solidify the state’s case against you. If you are questioned about your online activities, politely decline to answer any questions or make any statements, and insist upon your right to an attorney.
Criminal Charges for Soliciting Minors
Those arrested for solicitation of minors are typically charged with violating one or more of the following three crimes:
- Lewd or Indecent Proposals or Acts to a Child Under 16 (21 O.S. § 1123)
- Soliciting Sexual Conduct or Communication with Minor by use of Technology (21 O.S. § 1040.13a
- Using Access to Computers to Violate the Oklahoma Statutes (21 O.S. § 1958)
Each of the above listed crimes is a felony, and a person convicted faces separate and additional penalties for each conviction. In prosecuting sex crimes, district attorneys tend to file as many criminal charges against the defendant as possible in order to obtain the harshest set of penalties. A skillful defense lawyer can work toward the dismissal of any inflated charges and can vigorously defend against any remaining allegations.
Lewd or Indecent Proposals to a Minor
Oklahoma law makes it a felony to ask a minor under the age of 16 to engage in sex or sexual activity. Section 1123 (A-1) of the state criminal code states, “It is a felony for any person to knowingly and intentionally . . . Make any oral, written or electronically or computer-generated lewd or indecent proposal to any child under sixteen (16) years of age, or other individual the person believes to be a child under sixteen (16) years of age, for the child to have unlawful sexual relations or sexual intercourse with any person.”
Lewd or Indecent Acts or Proposals to a Child under 16 is penalized by 3-20 years in prison if the minor involved is aged 12 to 15. However, if the child involved is under the age of 12, the penalty is much more severe. Soliciting a minor under the age of 12 is punishable by 25 years to life.
Regardless of the age of the minor involved, Lewd or Indecent Proposals or Acts to a Child under 16 brings lifetime sex offender registration.
Online Solicitation of Minors
While the Lewd Acts statute covers making electronic or computer-generated sexual propositions, Oklahoma has a separate statute dealing specifically Soliciting Sexual Conduct or Communication with Minor by use of Technology.
This law, like the lewd acts statute, forbids using technology—including text messaging, smartphone apps, computers, internet, social media, and more—to “facilitate, encourage, offer or solicit sexual conduct with a minor.”
Being charged with online solicitation of a minor does not exclude the possibility of a lewd acts charge. Rather, the two crimes are often charged in concert, meaning a defendant faces the conviction and therefore the separate penalties of both offenses.
Soliciting a minor through technology is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison in addition to any penalties levied for conviction of related offenses. As a Level 2 sex offense, it requires a person convicted to register as a sex offender every 6 months for 25 years.
Violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act
The Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act covers a number of computer-related crimes such as hacking and fraud. However, as a catch-all statute, the act also makes it a felony to use a computer to break any other Oklahoma law.
Using Access to Computers to Violate the Oklahoma Statutes is a felony that can add up to 10 years in prison to a person’s sentence for the underlying crime.
Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC)
One important thing to notice about the Oklahoma laws involving solicitation of minors is that both the lewd acts statute and the online solicitation statute say that it is a crime to solicit sex from a person the defendant believes to be under 16.
Often, arrests for solicitation of minors comes as the result of an undercover sting conducted by Internet Crimes Against Children task force members or other state and federal programs designed to stop the sexual exploitation of children.
In such an investigation, a task force member or other law enforcement officer will create a fake profile online purporting to be a minor. The adult investigator acting as a decoy will then engage in sexually explicit conversations with the suspect, leading to an arrest for online solicitation of minors or other related sex crimes.
In conducting these investigations, law enforcement must be careful to avoid entrapment. However, asserting that there is no real victim does not constitute a valid defense under Oklahoma law.
Sex Crime Defense: Soliciting Minors
Clearly, the consequences of soliciting sexual conduct from a minor under 16 are severe. If you are accused, however, you do have rights and you do have available options for a strong defense. Submit the free case review form found on this page or call (405) 417-3842 to get started.