Relatives, family friends, coaches, teachers, and others can use the internet to communicate with children.
The First Amendment protects the right to communicate.
However, the right is not absolute and stops when innocent chatting becomes online solicitation of a minor.
Suppose you are under suspicion or have charges against you for the online solicitation of a minor.
In Nebraska, solicitation lawyer Tom Petersen vigorously defends people facing solicitation charges and works closely with his clients to build a winning defense.
Nebraska Online Solicitation of a Minor
Section 28-833 of the Nebraska Statutes establishes the crime of enticement by an electronic communication device.
The law prohibits anyone 19 or older from knowingly and intentionally using an electronic device to contact a child under 16.
This prohibition extends to incidents where a police officer was acting as a child under 16.
It doesn’t matter that the person you were speaking with was actually an adult officer—using an electronic device to speak to an officer who you believe to be a minor under the age of 16 is still a crime under certain circumstances.
Those circumstances include:
- Using or transmitting lewd, indecent, lascivious, or obscene language, sound, or writing;
- Transmitting or disseminating a visual depiction of sexual conduct; or
- Soliciting or offering to perform a lewd, lascivious, or indecent act.
The definition is broad. “Sexting” or texting sexually explicit language, and texting, direct messaging, or emailing explicit pictures, movies, and videos also falls under Section 28-833.
A violation of Section 28-833 is a Class IV felony.
A Class IV felony in Nebraska carries up to two years in prison along with 12 months of post-release supervision or a fine of no more than $10,000. There is no minimum mandatory sentence.
Soliciting a Minor for Sex
Soliciting a minor for sexual intercourse is a related but more serious crime.
Nebraska Revised Statutes Section 28-320.02 indicates that soliciting a child 16 or younger or a police officer posing as a child under 16 by electronic communication to engage in sexual intercourse or sexual contact is a criminal act.
This offense is a Class ID felony which is punishable by 3 to 50 years in prison. However, if you have a previous sexual assault conviction, the crime increases to a Class IC felony.
Class IC felonies in Nebraska carry between 5 and 50 years in prison.
What Is an Electronic Communication Device?
Section 28-833 defines an electronic communication device as any device that transmits writings, sounds, data, or visual images electronically.
Computers, tablets, cellphones, and other electronic devices like gaming consoles can be used as communication devices under the statute.
Section 2-320.02 uses the same definition of electronic communication devices as Section 28-833.
Defenses to Online Solicitation of Minor Charges
Ignorance is rarely a defense. However, in a solicitation case, you might be able to beat your charges if you honestly did not know the other person was under 16.
An honest mistake would mean you did not “knowingly and intentionally” solicit a minor.
Consent Won’t Work, But Genuine Mistake Might
Reciprocation or consent is not a valid defense. A person younger than 16 cannot consent to sexual contact in Nebraska.
Therefore, you do not have a good defense if the other person “wanted it” or expressed a sexual desire or interest in you.
No person under 16 in Nebraska can legally consent to sexual contact, so their willingness to participate might be irrelevant.
However, a skilled and experienced solicitation lawyer may be able to use this evidence to argue that you reasonably thought the person was 16 or older.
Entrapment is a possible defense if you fall for a police officer’s ruse.
When you argue entrapment, you admit that you committed the acts alleged, but you argue that the police led you into committing the act. Trickery is not entrapment.
Neither is pressuring someone to do something. Entrapment means that you committed an act that you were not otherwise predisposed to commit.
In other words, you would have to show that you have no history of such behavior and no predisposition to seek out young teens for sexual discussions or activities.
The officer’s actions would have to be the only thing that led you to commit the crime.
Police officers in covert sting operations walk a fine line between using a ruse or trickery and entrapment. Having a knowledgeable defense lawyer argue entrapment in your case might be your best defense.
Soliciting a minor is a crime under federal law and Nebraska law.
According to 18 USC 2422, inducing, persuading, or coercing a person to travel across state lines to engage in criminal sexual activity carries a maximum 20-year sentence.
However, using interstate commerce (using a cellphone or the internet qualifies as interstate commerce) to knowingly induce, persuade, entice, or coerce a person under 18 to engage in sexual activity faces a maximum of life in prison.
There is a 10-year minimum prison sentence for this charge.
Where Can You Turn for Aggressive Defense for Online Solicitation of a Minor Charge?
He won’t judge you, he won’t lecture you, but he will defend you vigorously.
Our firm offers 24/7 service to ensure that we deliver the highest-quality legal representation—because that is what you need when your freedom is at stake.
Call Petersen Criminal Defense Law today at 402-999-4981 to learn how we can help you.