What Are Internet Sex Crimes?
In the digital age, law enforcement is faced with the difficult challenge of tracking, arrested, and penalizing people who use the internet to commit crimes. While internet crimes may vary, the most focus is brought upon internet sex crimes, namely those involving minors. The federal government even funnels millions of taxpayer dollars each year into its Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC), which was created with the sole purpose of catching and punishing adults using the internet to solicit minors into sexual acts.
Legal Definitions of Internet Sex Crimes
By and large, internet sex crimes is a term used to refer to someone interacting in some way with a minor through the internet for the purpose of sexual gratification. How that person interacts with a minor might vary, from encouraging sexual acts to actually engaging in virtual sexual acts in a chatroom or another online forum. However, an incredibly common internet sex crime charge is the possession or viewing of child pornography.
According to The United States Department of Justice website, it is a federal crime to produce, distribute, import, receive, or possess any image that depicts child pornography. Since the internet is usable universally and cannot be bound to any single state’s laws, the federal statute considers anyone under the age of 18 to be a minor. The federal law also defines “pornography” as a visual depiction of a sexually explicit act. You might also see child pornography listed as child sexual abuse images in official police filings.
Penalties for Internet Sex Crimes & Child Pornography Possession
A person might be penalized through the following methods for internet sex crimes:
- Prison time: Since internet sex crimes are most often filed as a federal crime, any incarceration will be carried out in a state prison, not a county jail. Typical sentences include at least one year of imprisonment.
- Steep fines: The exact amount of fines used against someone convicted of internet sex crimes will vary depending on the charges ultimately filed. The content of child sexual abuse images as well as their quantity or to where they were distributed can all escalate the charges. A judge may also have some input as to how steep a fine should be used. People convicted of an internet sex crime should expect to be ordered to pay $1,000 in fines at the least.
- Sex offender registration: Arguably the most damaging penalty of an internet sex crime conviction is the mandatory registration to a nationwide sex offender list. People on sex offender lists will find it incredibly difficult to acquire gainful employment, rent certain living spaces, be approved for loans, and so forth. Registration may even be permanent in severe cases.
With so much attention being brought upon internet sex crimes, it is feasible that the agencies and agents put in charge of stopping them can become overzealous. Innocent people can and have found themselves in a pair of handcuffs after being accused of committing an internet sex crime, despite only partaking in innocuous acts. If you are worried about an unjust punishment being used against you at the end of an unjust sex crimes trial, then you need to start defending yourself today by first educating yourself with the legal details of internet sex crimes.
A person is determined to be in possession of child pornography if they possess just a single image depicting a minor – less than 18 years of age due to federal statutes – within some sort of sexually charged conduct. The image or images can be found anywhere in the person’s possession, from their cellphone and tablet to their work computer. Even a printout of an internet image of child sexual abuse might be enough for investigators to file internet sex crimes charges in pursuit of steep penalties used against the alleged offender.
Potential Defenses to Use When Accused of an Internet Sex Crime
For every crime on the books, there is a possible defense. Even when the facts of an internet sex crimes case are gray or seem to be pointing out of the defendant’s favor, there might be ways to prove a conviction would be unjust. If you have been charged with an internet sex crime or possession of child pornography, you should not leave things up to chance. Talk to an internet sex crime defense attorney right away about how you can protect your rights, reputation, and finances from the heavy hand of the law.
Consider these three possible internet sex crimes defenses:
- Age unknown: Many online sources depicting sexual acts do not list the age of all people seen in the visuals. A person arrested for an internet sex crime may have never been given any reason to believe a minor was involved in any sexual conduct due to a lack of age information.
- Malware: Computer viruses run rampant, especially on non-corporate internet sites. Since a virus is defined as an unwelcome file or program downloaded automatically to a victim’s computer, it is entirely feasible a virus could have transferred child sexual abuse images to the defendant’s computer entirely without their knowledge.
- Artistic value: Internet sex crimes are dependent on the explicit images being sexually charged. Images intended for and only used for artistic appreciation and not sexual gratification should not be enough to convict someone of internet sex crime charges.
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Have you been accused of or charged with an internet sex crime, like possession of child pornography? You must act fast to defend yourself from a prosecution that will stop at nothing to see you penalized, regardless of the facts behind your arrest. Inman & Tourgee have more than 125 years of combined legal experience standing up for the rights of people in situations like yours. Let us know what has happened and we can let you know how we can defend you.
Contact our Rhode Island criminal defense attorneys today and ask for an initial consultation. There is no time to lose.