Soliciting a Minor: When Contact with a Child Becomes a Felony
Recent charges against a Baltimore man for sexually soliciting an adolescent boy prompts a discussion of what constitutes the sexual solicitation of a minor and how to fight an accusation of sexual solicitation in court.
Baltimore Man Charged with Sexual Solicitation of a Minor
This summer, a Baltimore man was charged with sexually soliciting a 13 year-old boy via a smartphone application. The solicitation allegedly occurred earlier this year, when the two found each other via the application and agreed to meet for sex. The boy’s parents discovered the rendezvous this summer and pressed charges against the 36 year-old man. If convicted, the man faces a fine and prison time and may be required to register on the state’s sex offender registry.
Sexual Solicitation Defined
In Maryland, sexual solicitation of a minor occurs anytime someone commands, urges, entices, requests, authorizes or advises a child to have sexual relations. The solicitation may occur over the Internet, on the phone, in person, by mail or through a third person. The law stipulates that no one can “knowingly solicit” a minor to engage in any activity that would be illegal for the child to participate in, including sex.
Sexual solicitation of a minor is a second-degree sex offense in Maryland. The felony conviction carries a prison term of up to ten years, a fine of $50,000, or both. The state may also require the offender to register as a Tier II sex offender on Maryland’s sex offender registry.
How to Fight an Accusation of Sexual Solicitation
Unfortunately, individuals can be entrapped by police for sexual solicitation of a minor. Often, police will pose as teenagers online, using a fake photo and adopting teen slang and language. The police will log onto sites that teens frequent and provoke other users into conversations and arranging meetings.
Once the meeting is set up, the unknowing user is confronted by police and is arrested for the solicitation of a minor. At this point, it is important that the accused hire a lawyer experienced in these types of cases. An experienced sex offense defense lawyer may be able to prove the police entrapped the accused and that the alleged solicitation would not have occurred without police intervention.
Another defense strategy is to mount a challenge to the evidence on constitutional grounds. This will include investigating how the police gathered their evidence. If police did not have probable cause, any evidence seized may have been taken illegally.
The consequences of a sex crimes conviction are severe. In addition to hefty fines and potential incarceration, individuals may be forced to register as sex offenders. Sex crimes convictions can also affect the ability of individuals to gain employment and secure housing. With such heavy penalties, it is important that anyone accused of sexual solicitation of a minor contact an experienced Baltimore criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.