Police stings in Baltimore lead to allegations of soliciting minors

Allegations of sexual solicitation of a minor in Maryland should be taken seriously. A conviction can come with a long prison sentence and hefty monetary fine.

Police officers have been known to use social sites like Craigslist, Facebook or other online chat forums, posing as teenagers in an attempt to engaging others in sexual activities. In fact, the issue of police use of social media is so prevalent that Entrepreneur magazine recently addressed it. The article notes that wise social media use is important to any successful organization, including police departments. The piece further elaborates that police departments and social media seem to go together like "chocolate and peanut butter," pointing to a survey from 2013 conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police finding that 96 percent of police departments throughout the country make use of social media in some form, from fighting crimes to improving community relations. However, even this entrepreneurial twist calls attention to the disturbing connection, noting social media is often a "double-edged sword."

This is particularly true when social media is used for stings leading to charges of soliciting minors.

Using social media for police stings

A police sting case out of Florida recently gained media attention throughout the country when it led to the arrest and charges of over twenty people thought to be involved in a sex ring. Such cases are not uncommon here in Maryland. A young man from Baltimore was charged earlier this year for sexual solicitation of a minor when he arrived at a location to allegedly meet with a 14 year-old.

Maryland state law and solicitation of a minor

Those who are facing these or similar charges are wise to have a basic understanding of state law. In Maryland, solicitation is defined as commanding, authorizing, urging, enticing, requesting or advising a person by any means, including in person, through the use of an agent, over the phone, through print, by mail, through use of the Internet or any other electronic means. It is illegal in the state to solicit a minor, or law enforcement officer posing as a minor, through these means with the intent of engaging in unlawful sexual behavior.

A violation of this law is a serious offense, resulting in a felony that could lead to 10 years imprisonment and a $25,000 penalty.

Take charges seriously, contact an attorney

Anyone facing these charges should take the allegations seriously for two reasons: social stigma and loss of freedom. Allegations of sexual crimes involving children can lead to social stigma, making it difficult to find employment and housing. Allegations that become a conviction can make life even more difficult, leading to imprisonment and hefty monetary fines. Contact an experienced defense attorney to discuss your case and better ensure your legal rights are protected.