In the modern era, the internet is used for everything from education to socializing. People of all ages use the internet as a part of their daily lives, whether for messaging friends on their cell phones or using their tablets or computers to banter with strangers in chat rooms and online forums. It’s rare that anyone doesn’t have constant access to the internet and all its information—and its risks. Multiple California Penal Codes now describe certain online interactions as crimes, and some of them are even federal offenses. It may be easier than you think to be accused of an internet sex crime, and one moment’s error in judgment could lead to being charged with one or more felonies.
A chat room may seem like an innocuous way to spend your free time, but depending on who you are shooting the e-breeze with, a chat room could become a risky place to hang out. People often lie online, including lying about their age. Now that virtually everyone has internet access, the person you’re chatting with whom you were led to believe is an adult could be a teen or even a child. If you get too chummy with someone who is under the age of consent, you could find yourself facing criminal charges and in need of an internet sex crime defense attorney in Los Angeles.
For the same reasons you need to be cautious when using chat rooms and forums, you need to be careful with who you offer to meet up with. Just believing someone is older than they actually are is not a solid defense when you are arrested for a sex crime related to your online activity.
Exchanging personal pictures can end up being shaky ground when it comes to sex crimes online. Sending photos that could be construed as suggestive or lascivious to someone you have never met could result in being charged with a felony if that person claims the photos were unwanted, and if they were sent to a minor you could find yourself charged under California Penal Code Section 311. Similarly, receiving photos from someone who is underage could result in being charged with sex crimes, and possibly having to register as a sex offender.
If you have been detained or arrested over an alleged internet sex crime, you may feel the urge to verbally defend yourself to arresting officers or investigating officers. However, what you say can be used against you—and although you may face coercion to speak without legal counsel present, you do have the right under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution to refuse to speak for fear of incriminating yourself. Request to speak with a lawyer first.
If you have been charged with an internet sex crime, it’s easy to feel like your life is falling apart before your eyes as your online behavior is dissected in a court of law. Don’t go at it alone. Contact Okabe and Haushalter if you need to build a criminal defense case. The experienced lawyers at Okabe and Haushalter offer free consultations and can help you reduce charges and avoid jail time if you need an internet sex crime defense attorney in Los Angeles.