Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney
December 26. 2022.
Internet Sex Crimes Lawyer Kansas City, MO
It is impossible to imagine life today without the internet and all its services, from e-mail and social media to entertainment and productivity tools. Regrettably, there’s also a dark side to this ease of connection, as the internet is increasingly being used as a channel for wrongdoing, especially in the area of felony sex crimes.
Internet Sex crimes are also referred to as internet-facilitated sexual offenses and refer to different sexual offenses that are perpetrated on or with the aid of the internet. These offenses include sexual solicitation, production, possession, or distribution of child pornography, and criminal (sexual) conspiracies using online technology.
Many internet offenses are committed against children and young adolescents. So there is an increasing awareness about such offenses, with some states enacting specialized legislation to prosecute such internet offenders. In most states, though, internet sex crimes are prosecuted under the regular sexual offense laws.
Regardless of the specifics of the law in this area, convictions for sex crimes tend to have a more negative stigma than those for other types of criminal behavior in addition to the criminal law penalties. An accusation alone may harm a person’s image irreparably.
So, if you’re facing charges for internet sex crimes, it is essential that you defend yourself rigorously in court, as that might be the only way to secure your freedom and clear your name. To do so, you would likely need to secure the services of a criminal defense attorney with significant experience in internet sex crime defense.
Having identified what constitutes child pornography, the law goes ahead to criminalize the promotion and possession of child pornography.
Promotion of Child Pornography
A person promotes child pornography in the first degree if they knowingly make, transfer, distribute or circulate such material involving a child less than 14 years old by any means, including a computer. The crime of promoting child pornography in the first degree is categorized as a Class B felony. It becomes a Class A felony when the promotion is to a minor.
A Class B felony in Missouri can result in fines and imprisonment for up to 15 years. Class A felonies could result in imprisonment for up to thirty years. Additionally, those convicted of promoting child porn in the first degree are ineligible for probation, parole, or conditional release until they have served their sentence for three calendar years.
Possession of Child Pornography
Possession of child pornography is a Class D felony if the person only has one still image in their possession. It becomes a Class B felony if they possess a video or more than twenty images of the offensive sexual act (s) or have previously been convicted of the same offense.
The penalty for possession of child pornography includes imprisonment and fines based on the felony classification. Also, the person would receive separate punishment for each piece of child pornographic material they possess.
Solicitation of Minors
This offense is known as the enticement of a child under Missouri law. The law makes it an offense for anyone over 21 to solicit, coax, lure or entice a child less than 15 years old by words and actions or through communication via the internet to engage in any sexual conduct. A conviction for this offense or its attempted offense carries a minimum five-year sentence and a maximum of thirty years. Convicts are also ineligible for probation, parole, or conditional release until after five years.
Sexual Crime Conspiracies
If two or more persons agree to commit a Class A, B, or C felony or certain uncategorized felonies, then they are guilty of conspiracy.
Thus, when multiple persons are involved in the offenses of child pornography or solicitation of a minor, as explained above, they can also be charged with a conspiracy to commit the said offense.
However, a mere agreement to commit a crime is not enough to ground a conspiracy charge. One or more of the conspirators must have taken steps to further the actual commission of the crime.
Promoting Online Sexual Solicitation
Missouri law also prohibits the promotion of online sexual solicitation. As such, anyone who knowingly permits their website or web-based service to be used by individuals to make advertisements that promote prostitution, enticement or solicitation of a child, or sexual trafficking shall be guilty of a felony if they fail to take down the said adverts after receiving a notice to that effect from the attorney general.
The penalty for this offense is a five thousand dollar fine for each day that the offending ad remains on the website after the 72 hours compliance period expires.
Other Internet-Facilitated Sex Offenses
The list of internet sex offenses mentioned above is not exhaustive. Other sexual offenses, such as sexual misconduct, or sexual trafficking of a child, may fall within this category of sexual offenses if they are committed via the internet.
Crimes such as rape and sodomy require physical contact to occur, so they may not qualify as internet sex crimes.
Sex Offender Registration for Internet Sex Crimes
In Missouri, all convicted (internet) sex offenders must be listed on the state’s sex offender registry.
These details are available to the public and could remain for as long as twenty-five years. This is in addition to the other penalties that are available upon conviction.
If you have been charged with an internet sex crime, a criminal defense lawyer will help you avoid a conviction.