Online chatting may seem like a way for you to express yourself freely in an anonymous setting. Most people do not think twice about what they post online, the seriousness of their intentions or who they direct their comments to. However, your words can get you in trouble online, especially if they are directed to minors.
What you say can lead to serious criminal charges. It’s safe to say that if you’re an adult, you should never chat with minors online. Here are six reasons why:
1. It is Illegal to Use the Internet to Arranging a Meeting with a Minor for Sexual Purposes.
Under California Penal Code Section 288.4, it is illegal to arrange a meeting with a minor or a person you believe to be under the age of 18 for the purpose of lewd and lascivious sexual conduct. This includes using means such as online chat rooms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to contact the minor.
A felony conviction under Penal Code 288.4 can result in up to three years in state prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender. It is best for adults to not be “friends” with or “follow” any minors they don’t know under these platforms.
2. If You Use the Internet to Arrange a Meeting with a Minor for Sexual Purposes and Actually Go, Your Problems Could Get Worse.
Under California Penal Code Section 288.4, using the Internet to arrange a meeting with a minor for lewd and lascivious acts can be charged as a felony and is punishable by up to three years in state prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender. However, if you actually go to the arranged meeting place, the state prison sentence can increase to four years.
3. Parents are Always on the Lookout for Internet Predators.
These days, parents take extra precautions to make sure their children are not chatting online with someone they don’t know, especially if the person is an adult. They use search and browser filters on their computers and may know what their children are doing online.
If parents see their child chatting online with a person they don’t know, the parents may contact the police and make accusations against the person, no matter what the situation. This could lead to criminal charges being filed against you.
4. The Police May Be Posing as a Minor
The TV show “To Catch a Predator” became famous for using adults posing as minors online to find other adults who tried to meet them in person. Once the adults would show up to the “minor’s” home, they would be arrested by the police and charged with attempting lewd and lascivious acts with a minor.
Though the TV show is no longer on the air, law enforcement all over the country continues to use these sting operations today. If you chat online with someone you think is a minor, they may be targeting you.
5. It is Illegal to Use the Internet to Send Any Sexual Material to a Minor
Under California Penal Code Section 288.2, it is illegal to knowingly send, mail or email erotic material to a minor with the intent of arousing yourself or the minor. For example, if you were to chat with minors online and sent the minor a nude photo of yourself, you could be charged under Penal Code Section 288.2.
A charge under Penal Code Section 288.2 can result in a felony conviction punishable by up to three years in state prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
6. You Could Be Facing Criminal Charges if You Engage in Cybersex with a Minor
Though the criminal charges against you would be based on the exact nature of the acts committed, you could face an array of charges if you engage in cybersex with a minor. For example, if you contacted a minor online and engaged in any sexual activity over video chat, you could be charged with contacting a minor with the intent to commit a sexual offense under California Penal Code Section 288.3.
A charge under Penal Code Section 288.3 is a felony punishable by up to three years in state prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one is facing a sex crime charge, it is critical that you speak to an experienced sex crimes attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience handling all types of sex crimes cases in Southern California. 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 Southern California sex crimes 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.