What are Internet Sex Crimes?
Internet sex crimes are among the internet crimes that have increased over the years.
The evolution of these new types of sexual crimes has led to the creation of sex crime laws, at both the state and federal levels, to curb the crimes, with the main focus being the protection of children, who are the primary victims of internet sex crimes.
If you have been arrested or are under investigation for internet-related sexual crimes, you may feel like your life is over due to the stiff penalties that go along with internet sex crimes.
You could be looking at lengthy prison sentences, fines, and possible sex offender registration, upon conviction.
Working with a skilled defense attorney, who focuses on sex crimes, may be your only chance of getting a fair outcome for your charges.
What are Internet Sex Crimes?
Internet sex crimes refer to any sex crime committed using the internet.
Some of the most common types of internet sex crime charges include child pornography, online sex solicitation, sexting, sex trafficking, and sextortion.
One of the most common types of internet sex crimes that attract law enforcement agencies attention, on both a state and federal government level, is child pornography.
Under Michigan law, child pornography is defined as any visual depiction of a person under 18 engaging in sexual abuse.
Under federal law, any visual depiction of a naked minor can be classified as child pornography, as long as it can meet the definition of sexually suggestive, even where no sexual abuse is involved.
Child pornography is classified into three broad categories:
- Production of child pornography
- Possession of child pornography
- Distribution of child pornography
Most of these laws were written before the internet. However, they have been revised over the years to criminalize the use of the internet to commit any sexual abuse.
For example, you may be charged with possession of child pornography for visiting a site containing child pornographic content, without even having the material in question on your device.
The police can use your browser history or cookies as evidence when prosecuting internet-related possession of child pornography charges.
The police will often seize your computer or devices as evidence in assisting them in charging you with production, possession or distributing of child pornography,
Additionally, you may be charged with distributing child pornography for sharing nude photos of a minor via text, email, or any form of electronic medium.
Communication through text has become the in-thing in recent times, especially among young adults and preteens. This has led to the development of sexting as a form of sharing graphic sexual content.
While sexting may not be illegal, sharing sexually explicit images of persons under 18 is illegal.
If sexting happens between an adult and a minor, the adult will be guilty of an offense, despite the age of the person depicted in the pornographic material. Under such circumstances, the adult will be charged with disseminating sexually explicit matters to a minor.
Example: Person “X” is 18 years old. X’s girlfriend is 17 years old. If person “X” sends, via cellphone, a picture to his girlfriend, who is only 17 years old, X could be charged with disseminating sexually explicit matters to a minor.
Sextortion is an internet crime that has been on the rise in recent years. It involves using non-physical forms of coercion and blackmail to get favors or the cooperation of a victim.
This form of internet crime manifests itself in two primary forms:
- Abuse of power to gain sexual favors
When used in the context of abuse of power, sextortion becomes a form of corruption. It may involve people in high offices who seek to extort sexual favors in exchange for something in their ability to withhold or grant.
A good example of “abuse of power” extortion would be an employer seeking sexual favors from a candidate seeking employment, in exchange for a job.
The other form of sextortion is blackmail. It involves a person using nude or obscene photos of another, and using the photos as leverage against them to obtain money, sexual favors, or other resources from their victims, while threatening to release them if they do not comply.
Sextortion can take a massive toll on its victims since most are afraid of talking about it out of fear of being victimized.
Whether you have the said sexual images or not, you can be charged with sextortion as long as there is evidence to prove that you made sexual contacts with the victim with the intent to commit the crime.
Human trafficking is among the darkest crimes happening in the world today. It’s, in many ways, today’s human slavery.
Unfortunately, most victims of human trafficking are women and children.
Although sex trafficking transactions happen “underground,” offenders’ most widely used medium is the internet and, specifically, the dark web.
With that said, luring and baiting of this type of sexual abuse or child sexual abuse usually occur in the open through regular sites and social media.
Online Sex Solicitation
Solicitation of sex is the act that precedes sexual action. It involves planning how and where to meet for sex.
There is nothing wrong with two consenting adults making plans on when and where to meet for sex. However, if the conversation involves exchanging money for sexual acts, the person offering cash can be charged with solicitation of a prostitute. Additionally, a prostitute seeking to sell their services on the internet will be prosecuted under the same laws, upon arrest.
If the offense involves a minor, the offenders will face solicitation of a minor charges, irrespective of whether there was a reference to payment for sexual acts or not.
Solicitation of a minor for online sexual exploitation is a serious offense, under both Michigan and federal law, and carries very stiff penalties for offenders.
POTENTIAL PENALTIES FOR INTERNET SEX CRIMES
Besides the statutory penalties for offenders on the federal and state level, a conviction with an internet sex crime can radically change the course of your life.
Besides facing restrictions on where you live, travel, or work, you may have to spend many years in prison as well.
If you are facing any an internet sex crime investigation, you should contact a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately.
Due to the sensitivity of the charges, choosing a lawyer that is keen on building a solid attorney-client relationship is critical.
PENALTIES for internet sex crimes include:
Under Michigan laws, a conviction with internet-related sexual crimes can result in offenders serving prison time, ranging from a minimum of one year to a maximum of life in prison, depending on the underlying offenses.
Federal internet sex crime conviction carries stiffer penalties and requires that the offenders work with a skilled criminal defense attorney for proper legal advice and guidance.
The fines issued against offenders convicted of internet sex crimes can vary widely, according to the underlying offenses.
The content of the materials involved in internet sex crime, along with the quantity, can also influence the fines charged.
In Michigan, the lowest fine for offenders is $5,000, and the maximum is $20,000 for internet-related sex crimes.
Sex Offender Registration
The most damaging consequence of an internet crime conviction is the mandatory registration as a sex offender on the sex offender registry.
This means your name will appear on the public sex offender registry for years, or even a lifetime, depending on the underlying offenses.
POSSIBLE DEFENSES FOR INTERNET SEX CRIMES
Being accused of or arrested for an internet sex crime is disturbing enough. With that said, the repercussions of a charge are far more damaging, because these crimes are punished more severely under Michigan law.
Just because you have been accused of, arrested for, or charged with an internet sex crime does not mean you are guilty and will automatically end up in jail.
The reason behind this is simple. You cannot be convicted of any crime unless the prosecution proves all of the elements of the crime in question beyond a reasonable doubt.
Even when the evidence against you could be glaring, here are some of the strategies your criminal defense attorney can employ to fight your internet sex crime charges:
- Unknown Age – If your charges involve online sexual exploitation of a minor or child pornography, you may use unknown age as a defense. Many pornographic sites on the internet do not indicate the age of the persons engaged in sexual abuse. If the persons in question have a mature physical stature, even while they may be under 18, the prosecution can lack a reason to prove that the person in question was a minor, meaning you will not be found guilty.
- Malware – Computer viruses are common online. Since a virus is an unwelcome file that can transfer unlawful sexual content on the defendant’s computer or device, the defense can use it as a defense for your internet sex charges.
CONTACT A SKILLED SEX CRIMES ATTORNEY TODAY
If you are charged with an internet sex crime, you will want to have the best attorney at your side.
Nicole Blank Becker of Blank Law, PC is a Michigan-based criminal lawyer with tons of experience in sex crimes and a record of success to back it up.
To ensure success in a client’s case, Nicole Blank Becker embarks on building a solid attorney-client relationship that helps create an environment of openness, which is critical for getting a fair outcome.
Whatever kind of sex crime you may be facing, Nicole is the lawyer for you. She is solely focused on sex crimes in Michigan, giving her an edge over other lawyers in this practice.
Don’t let your charges ruin your life! Contact Blank Law at (248) 515-6583 or reach us online to book a free consultation today.