What Is Solicitation of a Minor?
You have heard the term “solicitation of a minor” from the famous American reality show “To Catch a Predator” or read it somewhere in a news article about prostitution.
But what does it mean exactly?
Let’s discuss solicitation of a minor, the penalties for it, and what a solicitation of a minor defense attorney in West Palm Beach, Florida, may do to overcome such charges.
What Is Solicitation of a Minor?
Many people think that prostitution is legal in some states owing to their progressive and socially liberal outlook. However, this is far from the truth, especially in a place like West Palm Beach, where Florida law is strict against prostitution.
The Florida Code Section 796.07 clearly states the following is not allowed: “purchasing the services of any person engaged in prostitution.”
“Solicitation of a minor” involves a person who engages in conversation with a minor (under the legal age), and “solicits” or asks them to participate in a sexual act. In most jurisdictions, solicitation of a minor is a criminal offense not taken lightly and charged as a felony, not a misdemeanor.
This is mostly because when a minor is involved in a sex act or prostitution, it becomes a human trafficking issue, which is a felony.
Readers should note that criminal charges stand even if:
- No sexual act takes place
- The defendant never meets the minor physically
The offense is simply triggered by the asking of a minor to engage in a sex act.
In most states, including Florida, a minor is a person of 17 years of age or younger. Moreover, many states also charge defendants if the defendant believed that the person they were soliciting was a minor regardless of the victim’s age.
If the solicitation of a minor takes place online or through text messaging, some states may charge that as a separate offense.
However, a person is only guilty of solicitation of a minor if they had any sexual motivation for conversing with and meeting a minor. If they arranged a meeting with a different, non-sexual motivation, they are not guilty of solicitation because their intent was non-sexual.
Penalties for Solicitation of a Minor
Many states have varying degrees of felonies. They may charge the defendant with a second-degree felony or third-degree felony, depending on the case.
Solicitation of a minor is typically punishable by:
- Imprisonment in state prison for four or more years
- Large fines
- Registering as a sex offender
Most jurisdictions impose harsher penalties if certain facts are present in the case.
The defendant may receive more prison time if:
- They used a computer or other electronic device to solicit the minor
- They met the minor for a sex act
- They made sexual contact with the minor
Sometimes such offenses may involve violations of the state’s child pornography laws. Solicitation penalties increase severely if they involve child pornography convictions.
Solicitation of a Minor Defense Attorney
A person involved in such an offense may hire a criminal defense attorney to defend their case. Attorneys that specialize in solicitation of a minor defense often challenge charges using certain legal strategies, including but not limited to:
The defendant had no intent to engage in a sexual act with the minor.
The defendant had no knowledge or belief that the alleged victim was a minor.
The defendant was entrapped.
Of course, depending on the case, the defense attorney may use whatever evidence, witnesses, and strategies available to them.
Solicitation of a minor is a serious crime in most states, and judges do not treat it lightly. They treat defendants as a criminal because they are being charged with a criminal offense. Hence, if charged with this offense, you will need solicitation of a minor defense attorney.
You will need them sooner rather than later because your conviction or lack thereof will decide your future, freedom, and fate. We highly recommend The Law Office of Patrick R. McKamey in West Palm Beach for an experienced and skilled solicitation of a minor defense attorney.
If you want to learn more about the solicitation of a minor or about an excellent solicitation of a minor defense attorney in West Palm Beach, please visit our website today.