Can Talking to a Minor on Social Media Land You in Prison?

Social media is popular among all demographics, but teenagers spend the most time of all–a 2022 study from Common Sense Media shows that on average, teens spend over eight hours using screens for entertainment purposes each day. However, not everyone is aware that contacting a minor online can have you seeking out sex crimes defense lawyers near me.

Talking to a minor on social media or other electronic mediums can actually be a criminal offense in some circumstances, such as if you intend to meet in person for sexual contact.

If you are concerned about potential charges, a sex crimes attorney can help you combat accusations and protect your legal interests.

California Penal Code Section 288.3(a) – Talking to a Minor with Intent to Commit a Felony

California Penal Code Section 288.3(a) makes it a crime to communicate with a minor with the intent to commit a sexual felony. It falls under the category of internet sex crimes, but it may also include other crimes.

There are many potential felonies included under this umbrella, including:

  • Kidnapping (PC 207) – Taking someone forcibly to another location, including across county or state lines.
  • Rape (PC 261) – Nonconsensual sexual intercourse through violence, threats, or fraud.
  • Sodomy (PC 286) – Sexual contact between the anus and penis.
  • Forced acts of sexual penetration (PC 289) – Sexual penetration with a foreign object other than a sexual organ.
  • Child endangerment (PC 773a) – Willfully exposing a child to suffering, danger, or pain.
  • Lewd acts with a child under 14 (PC 288) – Engaging in sexual activity with a child.
  • Child pornography (PC 311.1, 311.2, 311.4, and 311.11) – Possessing or advertising pornography that depicts people under the age of 18.
  • Sending harmful materials to a child (PC 288.2) – Explicit material, such as a person’s private parts.
  • Oral copulation with a minor (PC 288a).

Each of these crimes has different penalties and fines associated. It is important to note that even if you did not commit the felony, the attempt to do so is considered a sex offense. Other related crimes include enticing a child into prostitution and statutory rape.

Elements to be Proven in Court

Several elements must be proven in court in order for the prosecution to convict you. These include:

  • Communication and contact, effective or attempted, with a minor
  • Intent to commit one of the crimes listed above
  • Knowledge that the person was a minor

Communication can be face-to-face, but it can also be through social media, e-mail, phone, or print medium.

In order for an accused person to be convicted, the prosecution must prove that all three of these elements were present. If one is missing, then the sex crime case may fail.

For example, if the two met in a bar or club that only admits people of a certain age, the accused could not be expected to know that the alleged victim was underage. Another possibility is that there was no intent to commit a felony.

Criminal defense lawyers can help those accused of statutory rape and other crimes navigate the legal system. When facing potential sex charges, it’s important to respond quickly.

Punishments or Penalties for Violating PC 288.3(a)

Like many sexual offenses, this crime has several potential harsh penalties. Sex crime charges can follow you for many years, limiting employment opportunities and housing options.

Depending on the specific alleged sex crime, you could face the following:

  • State prison time: ranging from roughly 16 months to 13 years, depending on the act
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • A lifetime on the sex offender registry
  • Probation

Since many different sex crimes fall under this penal code, the exact prison time and fine will vary. Repeat offenders may receive an additional five years on their sentences.

Mandatory sex offender registration is one of the most impactful penalties on this list, and it applies regardless of the specific crime. A sex crime conviction can affect the rest of your life, limiting your opportunities for work and housing. Experienced sex crime lawyers will fight hard to prevent you from these penalties, and they understand how stressful the situation can be.

Sex crime cases can be stressful and challenging. When you have a reliable, skilled attorney on your side, you can navigate the law much more comfortably. A lawyer can help you get charges dropped so you can avoid prison time and other penalties.

When to Contact a Sex Crime Defense Lawyer

When you are facing charges of contacting a minor with intent to commit a felony, it’s time to get in touch with a defense attorney.

The sooner you address sex crime allegations with legal representation, the better your defense will be. An aggressive response from a skilled legal team can provide better outcomes for sexual assault cases.

Here are some of the top reasons people seek help from criminal defense attorneys:

  • Lack of intent to commit a felony
  • Miscommunication
  • Believed the alleged victim was of legal age
  • Entrapment
  • Falsely accused

All of these reasons are potential arguments that a sex crimes defense attorney can use for your case. If you need legal assistance, you can get started by searching for sex crimes defense lawyers near me.

Looking for Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers Near Me?

Our law firm is familiar with sensitive topics such as sex crimes and child molestation charges, and we have a proven track record of getting charges dismissed. We work with clients who have been accused of a variety of sex offenses and help them avoid jail time.

Are you looking for sex crimes defense lawyers near me? Set up a confidential consultation so we can discuss your legal issues and the best way to approach them, fill out our online form or contact us at 877-545-3127 at LibertyBell Law Group today!

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