Sexual Solicitation of a Minor

The crime of sexual solicitation of a minor is covered under several different Massachusetts statutes and in many cases sexual solicitation of a minor falls into the realm of federal law. Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal for a person to pay, agree to pay, or offer to pay a child under the age of 18 in return for engaging in sexual conduct. This statute also covers conduct that occurs when a defendant pays a third party in order to engage in sexual conduct with a minor. Further, Massachusetts law makes it illegal for a person to induce a person under the age of 18 to have unlawful sexual intercourse. While these laws are often used to prosecute solicitation cases involving minors in Massachusetts, often times the conduct of the defendant is such that the case can land in federal court. Most often a defendant will find himself in federal court when the solicitation is done through the use of the internet.

Online solicitation of minors through the internet has become a common and growing problem. If a defendant lures a child to commit a sexual act through the internet, that defendant can be prosecuted under the Mann Act in federal court. While originally passed over a hundred years ago with the intent to prosecute men for having sexual intercourse with underage women, the Mann Act has been recently interpreted prohibit the use of any means of interstate commerce (in this case, the internet) in order to knowingly persuade a minor into prostitution or into committing a sexual act. 

In order to prove a case under this statute, a prosecutor must show a number of elements. First, the prosecutor must show that the child sought to be lured through the internet was under the age of eighteen. While this element might seem straightforward, it is only necessary that the prosecutor show that the defendant believes that he was soliciting a child. This typically applies when a defendant is caught through a police sting operation in which undercover officers use the internet to pose as children. Second, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant seduced the minor into engaging in a sexual act involving physical contact between the defendant and the minor.  The prosecution can attempt to prove this element a number of ways.

While solicitation of a minor can be proved under a number of statutes and through a number of different case theories, the penalties are almost always severe. According to Massachusetts law, a person who induces a person under the age of 18 to have unlawful sexual intercourse faces imprisonment for up to three year and a fine of $1,000. For those convicted of offering to pay a minor in exchange for sexual conduct, the penalty is up to ten years in prison and a fine between $3,00 and $10,000. In addition, if prosecuted under the Mann Act, the defendant could also face a civil fine of up to $100,000. 

MA Criminal Defense Attorneys at Altman & Altman, LLP

At the Greater Boston Law Firm of Altman & Altman, LLP, our attorneys have years of experience in criminal defense. As new laws are passed to stop the sexual solicitation of a minor over the Internet, law enforcement agencies are becoming more attentive to, and are training their officers on how to detect and engage persons online. We are constantly monitoring the changes in the law in order to effectively protect our clients.

Our Massachusetts Internet crime defense lawyers defend clients who have been charged with sexual solicitation of a minor. Our goal is to protect your rights and develop strategies that defend you effectively. We advise anyone who believes they may be under investigation for sexual solicitation of a minor to Contact Us immediately so we can begin to defend them. In some instances, our attorneys have been able to stop our clients from being charged at all, preserving their careers, families and futures.

If you believe you are presently being investigated, or have recently been charged with sexual solicitation of a minor, please Call the Boston Law Office of Altman & Altman, LLP for a free consultation, 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199 (toll free) or contact us online.  We are available to speak with you regarding your case 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 



Sources:

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 272, § 53A
Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 272, § 4
Com. v. Lavigne (1997) 676 N.E.2d 1170, 42 Mass.App.Ct. 313
15B Am. Jur. 2d Computers and the Internet § 266
Elana T. Jacobs, Online Sexual Solicitation of Minors: An Analysis of the Average Predator, His Victims, What Is Being Done and Can Be Done to Decrease Occurrences of Victimization, 10 Cardozo Pub. L. Pol'y & Ethics J. 505, 506-07 (2012)
The Mann Act, Criminal Resource Manual, http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/79mcrm.htm.




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