The state of Illinois takes the safety and well-being of children very seriously. In an effort to protect minors from online predators, the state has enacted laws specifically targeting those who contact children over the internet and attempt to engage in inappropriate sexual behavior. The offense of online solicitation of a child involves using the internet or other electronic means to communicate with a minor for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity. This is a very serious sex crime, and anyone who has been accused of this offense or any other related charges will need to understand the potential consequences they may face.
Definition of Online Solicitation of a Child
Under Illinois law, online solicitation of a child is defined as knowingly using a computer, internet service, or any other electronic means to seduce, lure, or entice a child under the age of 17 to engage in acts of sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct. The offense can be committed through various forms of communication, including social media platforms, chat rooms, instant messaging, email, or any other online platform that allows for direct communication.
The key elements of the offense include:
The accused knowingly used a computer, internet service, or electronic means.
The accused engaged in communication with a minor.
The purpose of the communication was to commit an unlawful sexual offense involving a child, including any actions that could lead to charges of aggravated sexual abuse, sexual assault, or predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.
It is important to note that the offense does not require any physical contact or actual sexual activity to have taken place. The act of communicating with a minor for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity is sufficient to constitute the offense.
In addition to charges of indecent solicitation of a child, a person may be charged with solicitation to meet a child if they entice, induce, or make arrangements to meet a child under the age of 17 in person without the consent of the child’s parents for the purpose of engaging in any unlawful activity. This offense may apply if a person communicates with a child online or over the phone and asks to meet them in person.
Potential Consequences of a Conviction for Online Solicitation of a Child
The offense of online solicitation of a child is a serious crime in Illinois that carries severe penalties. The specific consequences may vary depending on the circumstances of the case, including the types of offenses that a person intended to commit with a child. The potential penalties of a conviction may include:
Class 1 felony
If a person solicits a child to engage in acts that would be considered aggravated sexual assault or predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, they could potentially be sentenced to four to 15 years in prison.
Class 2 felony
If the acts in question would be considered criminal sexual assault, a conviction can result in a prison sentence of three to seven years.
Class 3 felony
If a person is accused of soliciting a child to commit acts that would constitute aggravated criminal sexual abuse, they could face a sentence of two to five years.
Class 4 felony
If the accused allegedly discussed sexual acts with a child online with the intent of committing a sexual offense, they may face a prison sentence of one to three years.
The offense of solicitation to meet a child is usually charged as a Class A misdemeanor, and a person who is convicted could be sentenced to up to one year in jail, and they may face a maximum $2,500 fine. However, if the accused believed that they were at least five years older than the child they allegedly attempted to meet, they may face Class 4 felony charges.
In addition to a prison sentence, a felony conviction carries a maximum fine of $25,000. A conviction for online solicitation of a child or solicitation to meet a child can have other long-lasting consequences, including mandatory registration as a sex offender, damage to a person’s personal and professional reputation, and limitations on their future employment and housing opportunities.
Defenses Against Child Sex Crime Charges
If you are facing charges of online solicitation of a child in Illinois, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed. At [[title]], our skilled lawyer can assess the specific facts of your case and develop a strong defense strategy.
Some potential defenses to charges related to online solicitation of a child may include:
Lack of intent
If it can be shown that there was no intent to engage in sexual activity with a minor, it may be possible to argue that online communications were misinterpreted or taken out of context.
If law enforcement officers used deceptive tactics or coercion to induce the accused to commit the offense in question, it may be possible to argue that the offense would not have been committed otherwise.
Violation of constitutional rights
If the accused’s rights were violated during the investigation or arrest, such as through unlawful searches and seizures or refusing to allow a person to be represented by legal counsel, it may be possible to challenge the admissibility of evidence or seek a dismissal of the charges.
Contact an Experienced DuPage County Sex Crimes Defense Attorney
If you are facing charges related to online solicitation of a child in Illinois, it is crucial to seek legal representation immediately. The consequences of a conviction can be life-altering, and navigating the criminal justice system can be complex and overwhelming. At [[title]], our skilled Naperville online solicitation defense lawyer has extensive experience defending clients against charges of sex crimes and related offenses. We understand the gravity of these charges, and we are committed to providing aggressive and effective legal representation to protect your rights and your future. Contact us today at [[phone]] to schedule a free consultation.