How Befriending Minors through Online Games Can Be Game Over for You – Solicitation of a Minor
Recently, a man in Seattle, Wash. was arrested for sexually exploiting a 12-year-old boy. According to police reports, the man contacted the alleged victim through popular online gaming platforms Minecraft and League of Legends.1
According to police, Andrew Hartung would send expensive gifts, electronics, money and cigarettes to the boy in exchange for photographs of the boy’s genitals. Hartung is also accused of trying to arrange a meeting with the boy in Colorado. The boy thought Hartung was just a friend until another boy’s parents revealed Hartung’s identity. Hartung is suspected of using the same scheme with at least two other boys.2
Before his recent arrest, Hartung was previously convicted of possession of child pornography and was required to register as a sex offender. Hartung was found to be in violation of his sex offender registration requirements, as he had not been registered since 2002 (sex offenders are required to register every year). He was also in contact with children and was found to be living in an apartment complex that housed many young children.3
Solicitation of a Minor (California Penal Code Section 288.4)
Under California Penal Code Section 288.4, it is illegal to engage in a conversation with a child under the age of 18 and during the exchange, ask the minor to meet for the purpose of engaging in a sexual act. It does not matter if the conversation occurred in person or via gaming chats online.
To be convicted of a solicitation of a minor charge, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Organized a meeting with a minor;
- Intended to expose your genital or anal area to the child, or made the child do so; AND
- Did so to gratify or arouse the sexual desires of yourself or the child.
What are the Penalties of a Solicitation of a Minor Conviction?
Depending on the circumstances of your case and past criminal history, solicitation of a minor can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in the state of California. If you have no prior sex crimes on your criminal record, solicitation of a minor will likely be charged as a misdemeanor.
A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail, a $5,000 fine and a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender. A felony conviction is punishable by one year in county jail or 16 months, two or three years in state prison, a fine of up to $10,000 and registration as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
Federal Solicitation of a Minor (United States Code 18 Sections 2242 and 2243)
If you are arrested for solicitation of a minor by a federal law enforcement agency like the FBI or travel to another state to engage in unlawful sexual activity with a minor, you can be prosecuted for solicitation of a minor at the federal level as well as the state level.
You do not have to have sex with a minor and the person you contact does not actually have to be a minor in order for you to be convicted of solicitation of a minor at the federal level. You can be convicted of the crime if you believed the victim was a minor and you attempted to arrange a meeting with the victim in another state.
What are the Penalties of a Federal Solicitation of a Minor Conviction?
Under U.S. Code 18 Sections 2422 and 2423, if you are convicted of using mail, Internet or other forms of interstate or international communication to solicit or attempt to solicit a minor with the intent to engage in unlawful sexual activity, or are convicted of successfully transporting a minor for this illegal purpose, you face a minimum of 10 years (as a misdemeanor charge) and a maximum of life (as a felony charge) in federal prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Under U.S. Code 18 Section 2423, if you are charged with traveling to another state, coming to the United States or traveling internationally and engaging in illicit sexual activity with a minor, solicitation of a minor is charged as a felony and is punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and registration as a sex offender for the rest of you life.
Call the Sex Crimes Attorneys Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one is facing a solicitation of a minor charge after talking to a minor online, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending persons charged with solicitation of a minor at the federal and state levels. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich sex crimes defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.